Saturday, 3 August 2013

horse of a different colour

Not only do humans suffer from the heat and associated plagues, their animal companions do too and cannot adapt so easily.
In order to provide some relief from the oppressive mosquitoes and horse-flies that have really taken advantage of the hot weather, some ranch-hands have taken to decorating their horses with zebra-stripes, finger-paints mixed with a cocktail of natural repellants—experimenting with the recipe to find what works best and does not cause any further irritation for the animals or riders. The zebra got its stripes, biologists believe, for disruptive-camouflage—not to disappear into the background but to blur together, so a predator had a harder time singling out any individual member from the herd. There may be an element of glare thrown into the mix too, helping to regulate temperature. Maybe there is another reason such a coat is preferred altogether that we are completely missing. It's impossible to say, however, what a lion or mosquito actually sees when it looks at a fancy striped horse and I imagine that the horse has no concept how it looks to them either, though free to wonder with human and horsey bias.  I suspect the horses do not care, so long as the flies are shooed away.