An Unexpected Truth:
One day, early on in her work with me and my two, Trainer Marianne turned to me and in the most matter-of-fact voice said, “Christine, you are annoying your horses.”
After I stopped laughing until tears rolled down my cheeks :), I considered her words and took a quick self-inventory.
Those that know me in person, know that I resemble a big, ol’ Labrador Retriever. I express my joy at seeing someone I care about with huge hugs (the equivalent of a Lab jumping up on someone and licking their face all over). There is much virtual “tail-wagging” in my enthusiasm! I tend to resemble the Lab wagging his tail so ferociously near the living room coffee table decorated with Swarovski crystal figurines that he sends everything shattering to the floor! Just from the pure joy of love ❤
This can be distressing to an introvert or someone who is highly sensitive. Which is funny, because I, too, am an introvert and highly sensitive….I just become a Labrador when I get excited 😉
In the world of horse, this tends to be, to say the least, a disturbing quality. Horses are slow in their movement. I am fast with hands flying everywhere. Horses, being creatures of flight, are always discerning if there is something from which they need to flee.
When I would come up to them, excited, touching, fumbling with halters or lead ropes or just staring because of their amazing beauty, the horse would interpret this as…”something is very wrong and I should flee” or “stop poking and hugging and touching my delicate nose” or “it’s TOO much sensory input and I’m ANNOYED!”
Trainer Marianne, being a kind, gentle soul and somewhat of a horse herself, quietly and persistantly corrected me every time I did something “annoying”.
Here are some examples of how NOT to be annoying to a horse.
1. Approach horses with energy high and a matter of fact attitude.
2. Don’t hesitate in an action, it makes the horse think something is wrong.
3. When leading a horse on the lead rope, don’t keep looking back, it worries them.
4. Don’t stand in front of a horse and stare. It’s irritating to them. They don’t stand like that with each other.
5. Don’t talk so much. Horses communicate with body language.
6. If something like a halter or tack gets tangled while you’re trying to put it on, don’t stand there and fumble. Take it off and pretend you’re fixing it or doing something that has nothing to do with that failed attempt. Then they get curious instead of annoyed.
7. ALWAYS move slowly.
Then she taught me this…
…there’s nothing more healing to a human than to stand in the crook of a horse’s neck facing out the same way they are facing. Oh how true this is.
In the quiet of a horse’s being, all else is forgotten and one is transported into the profound inner world they inhabit. This feeling, more than any instruction, taught me.
I’ve cuddled, played with, danced with and loved up pets like my cats and dogs with my ” Labrador ways” and it always went well!
Ah, but horses are not that. They have heightened sensitivities, perceptions and a decision making process that says, “Fly first, figure it out later.” It’s probably how they survived as a species for 55 million years or so.
Horses, if we listen, if we humble ourselves to approach them as THEY require being approached, can wordlessly teach us the mysteries of these primeval times which they knew. They can teach us that, perhaps, in all our dealings with others, both human and animal, we can set aside our habitual behaviors. We can act with sensitivity to the being with whom we’re interacting.
We can certainly be much less annoying :)!
I am still “in recovery”. I stumble….a lot. I am humbled….a lot. But recently, the highest compliment ever paid me, which I shall cherish always, came from Trainer Marianne…
… “Christine, you are finally becoming a horse.”