The Mighty Muzzle

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Is one amazing muscle...
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It's funny. I googled muzzle and muscle and got hundreds of sites and articles talking about anatomy and/or how wonderfully soft a horse's muzzle is (and it is ;o) but I was surprised that there was little to no additional information about it. Why, you ask? Because that cute little kissable thing is COOL. I never thought much beyond the softness either; until Bella, that is. I walked outside one afternoon to see her with her nose poked down into a sandy area and her head [just barely] moving strangely about. Puzzled, I went to see what on earth she was doing. Would you believe she was twirling a small piece of rope around in the sand with the tip of her muzzle? [Photo inset is Bella's "teacup" muzzle in my mini-mixing bowl; she's eating the leftover shredded carrots from a carrot cake I made. This post].
Standing there (mouth open like a ninny) I stared rather stupidly at her as she continued playing with the rope. In amazement, I looked at all the patterns she had already made in the sand; wow. Shaking my head and laughing I pondered the obvious; Bella was bored and had found something interesting to do to entertain herself. Sometimes I think we should change her name to Cerebella *grin*. Again I say wow.
It's been awhile, but I took a couple of videos of Max and Bella one afternoon (I was sitting on Shadow; I'm tall, but not that tall). I was curious to see their muzzles in action as they grazed. Bella is definitely the more industrious of the two. The efficiency of the whole process is what blows me away. Max used both nose and lower lip to help the closely cropped grass stand up (I want to say it was shot at the very beginning of spring). Bella used hers like a whisk broom to brush away the pine needles and sand in the soil, leaving the grass better exposed.
Check it out:Last week in a discussion group I belong to there was a raging debate about whether or not it was a good idea to kiss a horse on the muzzle. Opinions were split about 50/50 until someone said something somewhere that annoyed someone else and the "discussion" group disintegrated into a major dogpile/nah-nah thing that gave the rest of us a whopping headache. It made me think of what my mom used to tell my brother and I when we started sniping at each other, "Fight nicely children." (hee). It also reminded me why I so rarely post anything to a group and why I don't talk to most horse people around here; they tend to be opinionated to the Nth degree, and if you don't fall in with their line of thinking you're an idiot (and they are all too happy to tell you so - eek :o) Apparently, you guys are going to get my thoughts on this subject - whether you want them or not *laugh*. Ready? Here goes...
The Art of Kissing an Equine
Strange as it may sound, we have worked very hard on perfecting this particular trick. Before we get to the pictures below I would like to say a few things:
1. Bella is the only one of our horses I feel comfortable letting kiss a visitor (with their permission of course);
2. She is not allowed to kiss without the [target specific] cue;
3. Although William [first kid photo below] beat her to the punch, Bella always "kisses" her target and promptly withdraws for her treat. Her kiss consists of a light touch with the very tip of her nose. No contact, no treat. The rules are pretty simple and she understands them well [second kid photo below].
4. She is not allowed to step too far into anyone's personal space; as you can see by the space between her chest and the rails [second kid photo] she understands and respects this too.
Every once in awhile, Bella will make slightly firmer contact when both she and the kissee (haha) lean forward at the same time. Other than that, she is wonderfully consistent. Happily, I was able to put this trick to the acid test by asking her to kiss DH before we moved on to friends and visitors. While Bella is not aggressive toward DH, she does not like him, as he thinks it's funny to come up and put his arm around me when we're working and say "My person" (remember the jealous tart comment from this post?) It makes her mad. She had no compunction whatsoever about kissing DH though; it was all about the treat (she's a professional ;o) 
My only regret over our recent visitors was that I did not have anyone standing there with a video camera while I was taking stills. William, being a kid and all, is pretty short and initially Bella could not "find" him. She had her upper lip stretched out as far as she could and was literally patting the air with the end of her nose in search of her target (she looked like a cartoon - it was hilarious). He had to step up on the bottom rail to get his kiss. Above photo: Bella loves to rest her chin in my hand while we "talk". Mostly about how smart she is ;o)
William was not the slightest bit shy about kissing Bella. He popped right up on that bottom rail and planted one on her.
Keira, on the other hand, changed her mind at the last minute (she's still all puckered up though ;o) You can see what a good girl Bella is, in that she is not plastered up against the side of the stall crowding Keira's space even though she is doing her level best to do what I asked her. I gotta say I just love the photo; isn't it a hoot?
Must. Make. Contact. Strrrrretch....
For my crafty friends, I worked on the chairs (here) and this small sign that will go outside next to the door of the "Epic Farms Room". I'm not quite finished playing *ahem* working on it:
For our donors, I made up and delivered 10 care packages to a local hospital for the Sickle Cell kids (because I know exactly how boring it is to be stuck to an IV pole for hours on end ;o) I'm now working on another batch for the Twilight/Lymphoma and cancer kids in our area. I will add that the only thing I'm going to stamp for awhile after I finish this batch is my foot. Ugh.*laugh*.
I did have to stop somewhere during the week to have a chat with my itty bitty stalker. We discussed exactly why the pasture was off limits, and the fact that sometimes size DOES most definitely matter. Understand, peanut? ;o)
Speaking of a 50/50 split, look at this weird photo I took of the sky the other day. A storm was coming in; isn't that wild? Too bad the wire is in there though. I can take it out, but I'm not skilled enough to do it where you can't tell (I'd make a mess of it). And it would probably take me a week to do it, too ;o)
As always, thanks so much for reading this far and have yourself a wonderful week. The rotten ones are way too much trouble ;o)


  1. Loved the video and the whisking demonstration, that is so cool.
    Those pictures of the kids getting (or not getting) their kisses cracked me up. Especially the little girl.

  2. I, too, am fascinated by horses' muzzles. I can watch them eat... choosing this piece of grass, but not that weed... for hours!
    I think horses are the "elephants" that are in Rudyard Kipplings story about how the elephant got his trunk - afterall, their muzzles are just as adept - right?!

  3. Wow, I am always so leery of getting my face near a horse's mouth, but, I think the key here is to be comfortable with said horse, and have said horse relaxed and well trained and not push said horse or the kiss recipient beyond their respective comfort zones for safety.
    Your projects are coming along so nicely and the care packages are such a wonderful idea, I'm sure the patients love them.
    I did a little awwwww when I saw Bella's nose in your hand, and your comment on how she rests her nose there while you two talk. Too heartrendingly precious. Now I have to have one too, lol!
    Hope you're feeling well. I think and pray for you all the time :)
    Hugs and prayers,
    Meg your Canadian Friend :)

  4. Oh, and I was totally FASCINATED by the muzzles and how they use them as little hands. So sensitive and amazingly adaptable!
    Only you could think to show us something so seemingly mundane, yet incredibly beautiful and useful. Like finding out how mushrooms grow, you don't see how neat it is until someone shows you. Thank you!

  5. After thoroughly reading your blog, I think more horse people should listen to you!

  6. Ann: Isn't it neat? Kiera's photo was one of those happy accidents; I still can't believe I actually captured that shot *grin*.
    Dreaming: You are exactly right; their muzzles are extremely adept. Never ceases to amaze me. I do wish ours would be a little more discretionary about the weeds though, seeing as how they come out pre-fertilized at the other of things ;o)
    Meghann: I tend to kiss Bella on the top of her nose; it's awful cute, isn't it? *laugh* Rina does pretty well with it for us, but I don't think she's quite ready to go public. Taya, however, is suspended from smooching because she was getting way to in your face about it (too much enthusiasm definitely not a good thing for this). You couldn't pay me enough to kiss Max ;o)
    As to the muzzles, you pegged it perfectly: they are exactly like little hands. Praying for you too girl, and haven't we both just become busy little bees? Hugs!

  7. Fisher: HA! You snuck a comment in there as I was answering the others. Thank you for the lovely compliment *blush*. I'm quite content puttering along on my own, and then blogging about it (a much safer way to go about things ;o)

  8. Hmmm... I see nothing wrong with giving any critter a kiss on the nose! (As long as they are friendly of course.) Goodness ~ I bet our four legged friends have cleaner lips than some of our human friends!! :)

    Hope you had a terrific weekend Jen ~ I like your sky photo!
    xo Catherine

  9. Catherine: I'm with you, although I don't kiss any of the boys (and you couldn't pay me enough to kiss Max *laugh*).
    I had a lovely weekend, thank you, and I'm glad you liked the photo :o)

  10. Bella is adorable. Reminds me of the old fashioned kissing booths at fairs years ago. You could pay the pretty girl for a kiss, looks like Bella's figured it out for treats. You could actually rent her out a booth somewhere at a fair and make lots of money from Bella kisses.

    My horse Erik would always give me a kiss hello or goodbye for free. Donnie does it too followed by a hug. Dusty...not on your life, she's above all that.

  11. GreyHorse: My only problem with that would be we'd end up spending our proceeds on more treats and Bella would weight 2,000lbs. *Laugh*
    Isn't it funny how they are so different? Shadow loves hugs, Rina does fist bumps - my fist, her nose - and Taya is on kissing restriction for being dangerously overenthusiastic (I was getting worried about my glasses ;o)

  12. "Epic Farms" has been included in the third edition of this years Thinking of Christmas gifts in July. I hope this helps to attract new customers.

  13. FishHawk: Thank you so much! I'm so sorry I didn't respond earlier (I'm terribly slow these days ;o)

Your comments really brighten my day!

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