The assumed-dead horse, Slim Shady, is actually just asleep in his favourite position.
By Libby Kirkby-McLeod of RNZ
His knees are weak, and hooves are heavy – but he’s not dead, just calm and ready.
Concerned locals in Cambridge have been reporting a horse seemingly lying dead by the roadside.
But Slim Shady’s owner Maija Vance is begging people to please not call the council in a panic – the painted palomino is just asleep in his favourite, though unusual, position.
Vance said it is common for horses to lock their knees when sleeping standing up. It’s a less common sight when they are lying down, but that’s what Slim Shady is up to.
“What he does is, he lays down and he locks his knees, which means his legs are sticking out stiff, which makes him look, like, really, really extra-dead.”
Thinking they have stumbled upon a dead horse is understandably upsetting for residents, who sometimes even take their concerns to the council or to the community’s social media page.
“They actually are pretty worried. They either come to the house or they post it on the grapevine, which is worse because then everyone sees it,” Vance said.
Unfortunately for Maija, Slim Shady’s favourite place to nap is right next to the footpath which borders the popular town greenbelt.
Named after hip-hop star Eminem’s famous song, Vance thinks Slim Shady might enjoy the taste of fame his unorthodox sleeping style brings him.
“I think he does like the attention. A lot of kids walk down the footpath, and people are walking their dogs and stuff.”
Jane Taylor-Young from the New Zealand Centre of Equine Psychology and Behaviour near the East Coast of the Tararua district said most horses slept folded up with their legs under them, but young horses often liked to flop over and stretch out.
“It’s very common for horses to take short naps throughout the day. If it’s like that on its side and its legs are locked, the chances are it’s just enjoying the sunshine.”
Taylor-Young said people worrying about animals without really understanding their natural behaviour was common. Because of this, ignorance leads people to interfere or complain – which can be a real problem for owners.
“Onlookers can very easily get the wrong impression about many things about animals.”
For now, Vance would like people to stop worrying.
When they say, “What should we do if we think he is dead?”, she said it was quite simple – leave him.
“What are they going to do? Give him CPR?”
So far, Slim Shady has resisted all attempts to break him in and allow Vance to ride him. So for now, his entertainment value is all he’s got.