Now, as I've told you, Gus was very strong and very athletic, when he wanted to be. A trait he displayed as soon as I got to riding him in the mountains, was he would severely and violently "spook" or "booger", whenever a grouse or something like a squirrel would jump up.. With all those muscles to go with his disposition, he was able to quite severely hurt me whenever we came upon this type of situation.. I don't know how he could do it, but a grouse would fly up, Gus would stomp all four feet on the ground and propel himself backwards about 6 feet, and be turned halfway around, all in the blink of an eye. I don't recall ever completely falling off when he did this..... but, I do recall kind of oozing out of the saddle and onto the ground as I made lots of whimpering sounds. My hunting companions would sit there on their horses, laughing and making comments like, "
It's a good thing you didn't fall off. You know, Carl..... continually getting off by going over his head might teach him bad habits, or something." As I would continue groaning, another would say, "Are you hurt?? You're probably done having kids, anyway, aren't you??"
It shouldn't have taken so long for me to learn about this, but a favorable trait Gus had was, whenever he would see, or otherwise know, that an elk was real close, he would freeze, with his ears pointed, his head high, and he'd make snorting sounds. I remember the first time he did this, I was riding in the lead and we were going through and around sage brush and juniper bushes. All the sudden, Gus froze, and, like radar, locked onto something up ahead. This was all before I knew better, but I soon became bored and impatient, and wanted to move on. My brothers were behind me on their horses and stayed back to watch what was going to happen. Being ready and insistent on moving on, I started kicking Gus.... lightly, at first... but, beings I was getting no results and Gus was totally and absolutely ignoring me, I decided not to tolerate his stubbornness. I kicked him harder... and harder... to no avail. As I was kicking and cussing him as hard as I could...wishing I had spurs on, an elk jumped up right in front of us from where it had been bedded down. We were totally unprepared, and the elk quickly made it to safety.
After this, we figured Gus had earned the right to behave like he wanted when we were out on a hunt. He was a good tool, and we learned to pay attention to him. For all of those who don't know, a horse can hear probably three times better than a human, his sense of smell is several times better than a human, and a human's eyesight does not even compare with a horses. Horses can see very, very well... and when they indicate to you that they see something.... and though it sometimes isn't anything terribly important to you, they really do see something...