Learned Helplessness

There is a “funny” image of a horse who fell down and got her foot stuck on an electric fence, the horse goes dull and unresponsive. Everyone thinks this is a big act of drama by the horse, “haha what a silly horse, she’s only caught a little, doesn’t she know she’s fine?”

Obviously not…

Have you never been so scared in your life that you are frozen with terror? That you disconnect with reality? You imagine its happening to someone else, not you? You just go limp and pray for it to be over quickly? This is tonic immobility, this is such extreme fear the horse feels they have already lost, the monsters are there to eat them, they disconnect with reality. Nothing, nothing, nothing about this emotion is funny.


Often animals who experience this a few times in their life fall into this state more and more quickly. So while running (possibly in fear not play) then falling, a serious sliding fall, and then feeling trapped by the leg is actually a horrifying experience for anyone, it may not have been the horse’s first time feeling this way and fell into this state of shock quickly. Perhaps they were “laid down” by humans, or sacked out, or twitched regularly… who knows. But still. Not. Funny.