As it turns out, Radar’s pelvis was out again, but this time it was on his right side. His entire right hip and flank area were in spasm and sore. “This explains him trying to escape his back end,” she said.
“But what about that bizarre behavior with the mare that day? She wasn’t putting off any signals that any of us could see. She was totally calm and well behaved.”
“Now that one,” she said, “is very interesting indeed.”
All living creatures produce both sets of sex hormones—estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Some of us, horses included, produce more opposite-sex hormones than normal and this can result in some behavior issues. “In Radar’s case,” she said, “he is producing more female hormones than he should be. He is very effeminate, very emotional. Look at his beautiful face and conformation. He could easily pass for a mare.”
“Ok…so my horse is kind of transgender?” I joked.
“Sort of,” she replied.
“But what does this mean?”
Julie went on to explain that horses in this state, and she said a lot of Thoroughbreds have this issue, don’t need a mare to be squealing, winking and peeing to set them off like a normal male would. Instead, they just have to get a whiff of female pheromones to set them off. Have you ever seen two unfamiliar mares greet each other in a field? Especially if they are dominant mares, you just know there will be a confrontation and display for supremacy.
So Radar’s response to Kestrel that day was something akin to the two mares meeting in the field; he felt an instant competitive surge and a desire to investigate her smell, to ask her what business she had here, to let her know that he was in charge. We didn’t, of course, understand this and didn’t give the horses a chance to work it out before we hit the trail, so I need to shoulder some of the blame for this incident for simply not knowing.
It also explains the very first time Radar had a melt-down on the trail. That day, Susan and Earl, Radar and I hit the trail and met up with two other friends on their very well behaved horses. One was riding a mare that day, however, and that was the first time Radar was not my calm, steady trail horse. That day, everyone else was moving so slowly, that Radar and I were really far ahead of that mare and managed to finish the ride intact, despite his unruly behavior. Now it all makes sense.
“So,” I asked. “Is there anything we can do about this?”