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In people, body dysmorphic disorder is a mental condition where someone essentially believes that there is something wrong with a part (or all) of their body and take extreme measures to correct the issue. In layman’s terms, people believe their appearance (or size) is different to what it is in reality. But I am nowhere near qualified enough to discuss this. Instead I am going to discuss what I believe to be a similar condition in horses.
Now, horses do not have the same brain capacity and self awareness as humans. So I am not trying to suggest horses can develop conditions such as anorexia. However, it was the closest human condition I could think of to describe the condition I am about to describe in horses, or more specifically Scottie.
How big am I?
I genuinely think Scottie has issues with recognising just how big he is. He has moments where he feels too big to feel comfortable in small spaces and then he will follow this with a moment of believing he can fit into a tiny space!
For example, Scottie love a good roll. If he has had a few days in the stable he is so excited to get back out in the field to have a good roll. Despite having had some nice sized stables over the years and nice big beds, I have never found any signs of him having a roll in his stable. Yes I can see that he lays down in the stable, but I do not think he rolls at all.
He also occasionally has issues with going into new stables or lorries. He stands at the entrance, almost checking out if he can fit or not. He can get quite upset if he feels you are asking him to go into what he considers a small space. But once he is actually in that small space, he realises there is enough space and is ok.
Scottie the Mouse
Despite Scottie’s belief that he is too big to fit into lots of perfectly sized space, he also regularly puts himself into very tight situations. Including considering climbing into the back of the farriers van, through open car windows and walking into a dead end narrow archway! He also regularly limbos through tiny gaps in electric fencing.
So my experiences with Scottie have led me to believe that perhaps horses can lack the awareness of how big they are exactly. Afterall, we have all heard that cat’s whiskers are there to let them know if their body can fit through a gap. Which surely means cats don’t know how big they are either.
Has anyone else experienced this with their horse or other animals?