Loving Your Horse
For most of us, loving our horses comes easily and naturally. The beauty of a horse is enough to inspire both love and awe. The love (of people and horses alike) involves much more than admiration of physical features, however. Some people seem to love their horses only when they act perfectly. When an unwanted behavior surfaces, they begin focusing on the "problem" rather than the relationship.
A horse is one of the most sensitive and social creatures in the animal kingdom. The capacity of a horse to bond can even surpass that of a human. How many humans have you known who starved themselves to death because they couldn't be with their mate? It is not uncommon for a horse to do so. The desire and ability of horses to bond is innate and the depth of their attachment is truly profound.
The bad news? Herd-bound horses are accustomed to being together and the removal of one of them from the herd can create anxiety and chaos. The good news? A horse can develop just as strong of a bond with you as he can with his fellow horses. Horses love companionship. Simply spending time with your horse opens the secret pathway to achieving the connection you both desire. The love you have for your horse must not be conditional upon how well he “serves your needs." If the time you spend with your horse is always activity related (such as feeding, grooming, and exercising) you aren't taking time to nourish the underlying relationship. Sharing quality time with your horse will grow a bond that is satisfying and fulfilling for both of you. Think about what horses do to strengthen their bond with one another. They simply share territory while maintaining an awareness of all that is going on around them.
Developing a good relationship with your horse encompasses more than projecting human emotions onto him. Just because you love your horse does not mean that your horse loves you. If your horse comes running and whinnying when you approach, he may truly care about you or he may simply be excited about receiving his next meal. Spending quiet time with your horse will help you develop a better understanding of his moods, reaction, wants, etc. As you get better at "reading" the signals he sends, your bond will deepen exponentially.
Loving a horse is not about being fixated on what he can do for you. Love comes with responsibilities. As a horse grows older, he inevitably will no longer be able to perform certain tasks. My horse BlackJack is 34 years old. Many years ago when I purchased him, I prayed that I would be able to provide his forever home. Time has marched on and BlackJack has long since retired from riding. He does, however, participate in my clinics. Despite his advanced age (or should I say due to it) BlackJack brings a wealth of knowledge into the arena. He is a master teacher who gently and unfailingly guides students toward the lessons they need to learn.
Does your horse love you? That's a good question but more importantly you might ask, "Do I love my horse unconditionally?" I am truly grateful to BlackJack for all his years of service but I dearly love him for the beauty of his soul. The unbreakable bond that we now enjoy is our reward for so many hours spent "just doing nothing." Thank you BlackJack for being such a great companion, teacher, and friend!
Have a great rest of the week as you enjoy being with your equine partners the same way horses enjoy one another.