Category Archives: Horse Stories

‘What Rastus Knew’ by H. Alan Day.

A lovely story by Alan Day (author of The Horse Lover: A Cowboy’s Quest to Save the Wild Mustangs   and  Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest –   get them both, if you haven’t already – ) has a blog.  Here is his latest submission.

Click image to go to the original article by Alan Day.

Rastus was a Lazy B cowboy who was like family. He couldn’t read or write, but what he knew never ceased to amaze me. When he was eight years old, he ran away from his abusive and dysfunctional home in Pinos Altos, New Mexico. Somehow he  made his way to Lordsburg, about 80 miles away. A kind soul noticed the homeless young boy wandering around town and suggested to Rastus that he might fit in at the big Lazy B ranch. They just might need someone to bring kindling to the cook. What’s more, he’d probably get fed for doing the job. So Rastus went out to the ranch, got hired, and remained there for 75 years.

Rastus learned cowboying from the roots up. He went from being a cook’s helper to being the number one cowboy in the crew. For as long as I remember, he was the go-to guy. He had an encyclopedic mind that observed things most of us wouldn’t notice. He always was aware of how much water was in each tank and how the grass was growing. If a windmill pumped a little less water than it should, he’d say the leathers need to be changed. What’s more, he also knew each cow, and Lazy B had 1500 cows. Often he could identify a cow by looking at her footprints. He knew which calf belonged to which cow and what last year’s calf looked like.

One thing that we all learned is that if Rastus told you something, which would be something to do with the ranch, you could go to the bank with that. It was always correct and accurate. The only time my dad argued with him, Rastus was so incensed someone doubted his word that he quit. His word was his bond. When it turned out Rastus was right, my dad had to go to town and hunt him up and apologize.

Rastus lived at headquarters and only went to town about once a month. Ever year, we give him a Christmas present, which often was a nice shirt. No one ever saw the shirt again because it stayed folded up for later use. He probably had ten shirts for later use that he never unwrapped. He had a needle and thread, though. He’d wear a shirt or pair of pants until it got so thin it would start to tear. Then he carefully sewed the tears together with tiny stitches. He literally wore his clothes until they came apart. Yet he never looked anything but neat and clean.

Before my time, Rastus had fallen off a windmill. One leg landed on an anvil and had a real bad break. The doctor had to cut a piece out of it. When it healed back up, it was three inches shorter than the other leg. He had his boot built up, but I never knew him to walk without a limp. If he suffered from backaches, I wasn’t aware of it because he never complained.

So even though Rastus never learned to read, never learned to drive, he was one of the smartest men I ever knew. He was totally loyal to the ranch, and I was proud that he was a part of my extended family.


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Scientists Taught Rats How To Play Hide And Seek And Found Out They Actually Really Enjoy Playing

Perfect for a Sunday!  Read original article here!

click image to read original story

Hide and Seek is probably one of the most popular games in the world. You’ve played it, we’ve played it, little Timmy, who always tried to be sneaky and cheat, played it. Even new parents and their relatives get to relive the excitement by playing hide and seek with their children! Besides it being genuinely fun, there is a heap of science backing up how beneficial it is to a developing body and mind. In fact, hide and seek is such a universal game that it transcends all barriers of language, age, and even species.

Scientists in Berlin taught rats how to play hide and seek in order to understand their behavior better

Image credits: Humboldt-Universität Berlin

Michael Brecht, a Neuroscientist from Humboldt University in Berlin, stumbled upon some YouTube videos of pet owners playing with their rats. Many of them noted that their beloved animals love playing games, including hide-and-seek. Previous research has already concluded that rats enjoy rowdy games, but hide-and-seek is a complex game as it has specific rules and roles.

Image credits: Tambako The Jaguar (not the actual photo)

Brecht, with the help of his colleagues, set up an enclosed 30-square-meter playground with little shelters as well as transparent and opaque boxes. These served as hiding places for the rats. There were also a handful of hiding places for the experiment’s game master, Annika Stefanie Reinhold, as she was the one teaching them the ropes of hide-and-seek.

Image credits: Sue (not the actual photo)

Six rats were selected for this experiment. The game began with a rat being put into a lidded box. As soon as Reinhold hides, the box is opened remotely and the rat would jump out to look for her. The rats were rewarded with pats and tickles for finding the game master.


Image credits: Marco Nedermeijer (not the actual photo)

Then the roles change—the rat becomes the hider. Reinhold would crouch beside the now open box, letting the rat jump out and go hide in one of the prepared hiding places.

Image credits: Mike (not the actual photo)

In just 2 weeks of this experiment, five out of six rats knew how to play hide and seek in either of these two roles. They followed the rules of one rat seeking and others hiding and switching between these roles after the seeker has found the hiders.

Image credits: David Ascher (not the actual photo)

Most rough and tumble games, which the rats enjoy, do not include such elements as roles, rules and strategy, which, in contrast, is a huge part of hide and seek. This alone hints at how complex rat behavior can actually get. Neural tests also pinpointed the specific areas of the rat’s brain that processes such information as learning rules.

Image credits: Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center (not the actual photo)

Previous studies on rats also support the complexity of their brain. Another study—also covered by Bored Panda—has shown that rats are capable of expressing empathy towards other rats. The behaviors studied in this experiment involved one rat releasing another one from an enclosure. One case even records the saving rat also sharing its chocolate treat with the saved one.


Image credits: Tambako The Jaguar (not the actual photo)

When asked whether the rats are doing this for fun, or because they are treated to a pet and a tickle, Brecht explained that the rats were jumping out of joy—something many mammals do when they are happy. They would also run off to a new hiding spot after being found without receiving a reward, thus prolonging the game. So, who said science can’t be fun?

This is one of the videos that inspired the experiment

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