Greet Me at the Gate

I’d like to think that I’m fairly pragmatic most of the time when it comes to my horses. I generally don’t anthropomorphize them, I understand that they’re horses, and I know that we’re not majikal mystical BFF’s. But there’s one thing I’ve always been a bit of a mush about… greeting me at the gate.


I dunno why exactly, I think it just makes me feel better that they don’t see me coming and go “oh god, it’s HER again” and make for the hills. Granted, I’m sure that Henry knows I’m good for at least 2 cookies, so the fact that he comes up to the gate when he sees me coming is most assuredly because he’s a fattypotamus that wants a treat. Shhh… let’s ignore that. At least when they come to greet me, it makes me think that they don’t totally hate their work or their human.

I’ve really only had one horse that was hard to catch, and the others mostly just stayed where they were until I walked out to get them. A few have always been gate-greeters though, especially Sadie and Henry. Presto is generally a greeter too (unless he’s sleeping, which is a lot) but he’s a baby and most babies are like that. Things are still fresh and new and fun to them, and they never actually have to work. We’ll see how things go as he gets older.

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Presto’s standard greeting (side note: can we talk about that one cute little curly white whisker?)

Every once in a while, usually when we’ve had a lot of hard dressage days, Henry will give me a long hard look and then walk a few feet away, making me come to him. I swear that’s the horse version of flipping a human the bird. Not gonna lie, it kinda hurts my feeling (singular) and usually earns him a couple of fun easy hack or trail ride days. Yes, I’m a pushover like that. But 99% of the time, voila, suddenly he’s back to being a gate greeter after he’s had a bit of a mental break.

Am I the only one that places far too much emotional emphasis on the whole greeting the human at the gate thing?

24 thoughts on “Greet Me at the Gate

  1. Gem always watches me closely, pees (hates to go under saddle so she always empties the tank before I even halter her), then runs off to the farthest corner of her pasture. She will then watch until I’m about half way to her and starts to walk toward me. It’s her mental game and as long as she doesn’t run from me in circles I’m fine with it. Lately her BFF and pasture mate has declared war on all of us for attempting to bring him out of retirement and had taken to making her run away and keeps her from getting caught. I’ve threatened to send him to slaughter and it has gotten better.

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  2. My childhood pony would RUN from me! She was a devil pony. So a horse that doesn’t walk away from me thrills me, and a horse that comes to the gate is a dream come true.

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  3. So Anchor used to canter up to me and stop about a foot in front of me when I would go to bring him in from turnout–like when I first got him even, when I was 12 and he was 3. Luckily he never actually plowed me down. I am sure it was carrot-motivated, but so damn cute.

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  4. My secret to my horses meeting me at the gate is that my herd boss is a food motivated pasture puff that never gets ridden. 🙂 I whistle and she comes running and brings everyone else with her. Really though, all of mine come when I whistle regardless of Robin’s gluttony. I’m lazy so I’m grateful for that, especially in the 20 acre hay field haha

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  5. OK I laughed way harder at your singular feeling than I probably should have in my dead quiet office. My husband accuses me on the daily of having maybe one feeling.

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  6. I have one who makes what I call his “token effort” at showing he is “WYLD STALLYN”. Usually involves ‘running’ off (who are we really kidding? he trots off), then he stands stock still until I walk over to halter him.

    I had one mare who got bitchy at me for some unknown reason (I think since we were conditioning a lot, she was getting sour) who would run away EVERY time I went to catch her. We had to work through that (putting up the other two horses and then use her “love” for the other two to catch her as she stayed near them), and she’s back to being fine. Not going to lie, it was so frustrating and annoying. Especially on days I was working on short time frames to ride and work.

    My ‘pasture puff’ Arab who only gets pulled out to give leadline rides and VERY rare trail rides is always there to greet me. First to say hi, last to leave.

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  7. My ArabX who I am just getting started under saddle is weird. When I walk up to her with a halter she walks away and will keep walking and turning away from me until I call her name then she stops, turns and drops her head to let me halter her.

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  8. I died a little yesterday when Rio nickered at me when I came in the barn. He’s not a big talker, so naturally I assumed something was wrong with him. There wasn’t, probably he just wanted a cookie. But I took it as love (once confirming no immediately impending death). Cause we do have a magical unicorn relationship. Obviously.

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  9. My mare has never been a gate greeter, in fact when I bought her I had to spend months and months just bonding with her to get her to not “run” away when I went to catch her (her method of running away was to walk fast enough for me to not catch up). A switch finally came on and she never ran from me, but she also made me walk alllll the way our to get her. Now 16 years later, and mostly retired, she will acknowledge me, sometimes, when I call to her, but I still have to walk out most of the way before she sighs, rolls her eyes, and then slowly plods my way to bless me with her presence.

    Side question, are those little black spots on Presto’s sock in that picture?! It looks like he has on a polka dot sock, and it just ups the cute factor!

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  10. My OTTB would come in from the herd in a five acre field when I called him and that always made me feel so good. I will never have a horse like him again.

    The mare I started has a weird habit of running to the back of the property when she sees me, but that is because I reward that behavior by bringing out a bucket of grain and calling her back in, so if she runs she gets a snack. If I actually walk out and catch her she doesn’t run away. It’s not like I work her all that hard – for the past four years we wandered around the pasture at a leisurely walk/jog.

    My current gelding stands and waits for me to get him. It’s fine but it doesn’t produce the happy feeling my horse trotting up when I called did.

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  11. I don’t anthropomorphize a lot because horses are horses, but many times a horse will prove me wrong and enlighten me. A place I worked allowed me to pasture Amber in an area right next to the arena. I’d be riding a few colts and call out to her, and no joke she’d look at me and give me this glare like “how dare you ride another horse”. She’d stand in the farthest corner of the pasture when I’d come to ride her. Never run away, but she was not enthused either. Then I stopped riding the colts and focused on her, and wonder of wonders she’d begin to meet me at the gate, ears pricked and ready to roll. That horse has seriously made my jaw drop and the wheels in my brain whirl too many times with how smart and how much she does things like that. Just boggles the mind lol

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  12. Hampton comes to the gate for me, too. I know it’s because I am the food lady. And he, too, is a fatopotamus but my previous horse would run from me sometimes and it drove me crazy.

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  13. Foster would flip flop on being a gate greeter, and occasionally he would nicker when he saw me. But the thing that made my heart go pitter-patter was being told by friends standing near him that he would start whinnying when he saw my car pull into view. I’m just pure mush.

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  14. I die when the horses give a shit about my existence. I think sometimes they think “me coming into the field” is an elaborate game of tag. With more cursing.

    But I do treasure when the weather is bad and my weenie kids are like OH GOD BRING ME IN and GALLOP up to me.

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  15. Frankie has trotted (slowly) to me twice now when I’ve called since I got him. I almost cried both times. Usually though, he hears me call, looks at me cheerfully, then goes back to eating to wait while I tromp all the way out. At least now he doesn’t walk away when I get close, which I see as a win.

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  16. My mare usually waits for me to trek most of the way out to her and then she’ll walk the last little bit to meet me. My heart melts when she does trot up to me occasionally. She never runs away from me (unless another horse starts it), but I know we’ve worked too hard when she moves a bit away before letting me halter her. While she’s not a gate greeter, Kachina is easy for me to catch, and almost impossible for the barn owners to catch when in the pasture so obviously that means she loves me (or that I’m not the one who deworms her, one or the other 😉 )

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  17. I had one at work that would always gallop up to the gate as soon as he saw me pull in the drive. (I mean, I’m pretty sure he just did it because I gave him his grain, but…) It never failed to warm my heart!

    A lot of my horses walk up to me, but a lot of times that’s just because they want their breakfast. I do have a couple who come just to say hi, and I always love on them more just because they love me so much.

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  18. My heart melts when they walk to me or meet me at the gate, but I totally recognize that they’re doing it for the food and not me! lol

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