Springtime in Kentucky brings with it green grass, growing foals, and frequent pop-up thunderstorms. As one of these said storms rolled through the Bluegrass over the weekend, I wondered how my horse was doing, outside in his pasture. I wondered if he'd gotten nervous or anxious, a relatively common behavioral change for him, as this one approached.

My 16-year-old Thoroughbred Dorado is reactive to incoming storms. He wasn't always like this--I've known him since he was 12 and this is the first year I've noticed him becoming anxious as weather approaches. Generally a cool customer capable of babysitting young children, it's almost like a switch flips in Dorado's head as storms move in. He ignores his food, stall walks, and seems constantly poised in a flight position. The next day, when the storm has passed, he's back to his calm and quiet self.

Further, our now 26-year-old Appaloosa Taz is also sensitive to incoming weather. At one horse show we attended several years ago, storms were due in the area at the end of the day, so the show organizers worked to squeeze in all the classes before the weather arrived. He was probably aged between 16 years and 18 years at the time, but my normally calm, "been there, done that" campaigner couldn't keep his feet on the ground. He jigged, bucked, and reared through an entire pleasure class--not like him at all.

We decided to scratch the rest of the classes for the day, unsure of what brought on the antics. As we drove home, he pawed throughout the entire trailer ride. We turned him out upon arrival, and he careened around the pasture, jumping and bucking. Worried he might slip and fall--he's not the most graceful critter in the world--we brought all the horses in until the storm had passed. When we let him out after the weather, he walked calmly to the field and started grazing.

I don't know what causes these behavior changes as storms approach, and interestingly (at least to me, anyways), I've never noticed these behavioral changes in younger horses. That's not to say it doesn't occur, simply that I've never encountered it. But it always fascinates me how a simple weather change can impact a horse's behavior so much.

Does your senior horse's behavior change as a storm approaches? What kinds of things does he or she do?