I decided today to just hang out with a few of my horses. I needed a little R&R and I am getting ready to start a summer workshop with them. I brought a chair into their pasture, my tablet to read, a cold drink, sunshades, a hat and one apple. While there were three horses in this particular pasture, I knew one of them would certainly come pretty quickly and she loves fruit. Within about five minutes of finally getting settled, sure enough, my soul mate horse Amber came up from across the pasture. I promptly gave her the apple and smiled. I told her, Amber, you are my BHFF, best horse friend forever. Once she ate the apple she became interested first in what I was looking at, my Samsung tablet, then my hat, then tried to drink my diet Dr. Pepper. and finally my sunshades. She removed my hat in fact. Of course, she made me laugh. Then she noticed I didn’t have on my normal “horse hooves” (boots, but shiny sandals). She had to shine ’em up a bit to show her love of pretty shoes, great minds think alike!
A few minutes later, Lady and Rosie joined us. Lady is my oldest mare at 20. Over the years, her most important job out here was that of brood mare though she was ridden sporadically in between, but I lost my connection to Lady. She no longer would come up to me in the pasture and would walk away from me if I approached her. Staying true to character, she walked up but past me in my chair and stopped… facing away. I said hello to her and went back to fending Amber and now Rosie away from all my “toys”. Both of those girls were so much in my space at this time that I moved my chair back, and again a second time and then it hit me. I am giving up my space to them….and in horse language, that means, I am saying you two are dominate. Once I realized this I promptly got up, moved my chair back to its original location and used my hat to scoot them backwards. Both became a little quieter and quit playing with my “toys” so much. Rosie actually moved away in the corner and sulked for a bit. Amber however, remained close to me, just not hovering over me as if I were her foal! Then the special moments really began, she put her cheek next to mine, literally fur to skin, and would hold it there. She put her lips to mine. Then from behind she would gently rest her head on top of mine. Anybody watching would have clearly seen a lot of affection going on, from horse to human. Dog, was right by my side. He is very comfortable with Amber as I do a lot with her and he is ALWAYS by my side. He’s even gone as far as to lick her muzzle before, clearly an example of species to species affection. (As a side note, over the years I observed Amber first taking a leap of faith by showing extreme trust towards Dog and then Dog returning same. Amber initiated their relationship.) However, it appears to be deepening even more now.
Suddenly Lady walked up, very near to me. I sat quietly. She was taking it all in. Rosie came back in too. Rosie decided she wants to have a little fun with dog so she pinned her ears slighty back and proceeded to herd dog away from and out of the picture. Lady came in closer, turned to look at Rosie with her ears slighty back, her message clearly being, don’t do that. Dog then circled around and came to sit on the other side of me. Rosie started to circle around but before she reached dog, Lady stepped in between dog and Rosie, completely shielding him as she would a foal, head down, placing her muzzle on his back. And of course since dog is next to me, Lady is next to me, in fact, almost touching me. Rosie gives it up. I reach out and start stroking Lady’s legs, then she turns her head to me, and I rub her face and ears and gently caress her eye. I knew just that quick, Lady had made a decision to re-connect and let me know first by protecting my faithful companion, dog, and including him as part of our little herd. From that point forward, she inched closer and closer, definitely in my space, but not in the way Amber and Rosie were, in a much quieter way. I felt she was communicating that in this moment, the stale mate was over and that she wished to connect and reaffirm our relationship. What I clearly saw was that because I gave Lady the opportunity to make the decision on her own, to re-connect with me and didn’t try to force it, I in essence gave her respect as an intelligent, thinking being with feelings, intelligent enough to choose and in return, she honored me in a great and giving way that I could not have forced or mechanically generated through training. It was simply natural and much more than I would have every thought to even ask for or dream of.
After about an hour of sitting and just being with those girls and dog, I decided to take a walk in the pasture to see if they would follow. Rosie was immediately behind me, along with dog. Rosie just ignored dog at this point. Lady and Amber dallied a bit in order to knock the chair over before following. Once that fun task was complete, they galloped out to join us. Once again, Lady came right up to me, so close, her stomach was touching my arm and just stood there for a few moments, clearing communicating a desire for affection and closeness, nothing more, nothing less. I was just in awe based on the past few years of her “stay away from me” behavior. The horses went on to graze as I stood there with them when suddenly, though the sun was shining, rain drops started falling, nothing heavy, but…I went under a shed that is in the pasture, with Lady and Rosie moving exactly at the same time I did, up under the shed. Amber….who is my trail horse and whom I have always said is my horse soul mate, just stayed in the pasture grazing, though near by. As I thought about this in hind sight, it was very obvious, what occurred there was that both Rosie and Lady gave me the honor of lead horse in that moment, as, simply put, they followed my lead. Before I left, I placed my hat on Lady for a moment, and then Amber since she kept pulling it off my head earlier. She seemed to love it and grazed away in it. I finally asked if I could please have it back! She obliged.
From an emotional stand point, within 5 minutes of being in that pasture I was smiling and laughing. For two hours, I thought of nothing else but what I was doing with them and just enjoying their company. It brought about a total break from life’s problems and issues as I became one with them in their world. I found myself in a state of bliss. That is in part, one of the many gifts horses bring humanity and how the human spirit naturally responds. I would speculate this elevated state of joy promotes healing on both the outside and inside of man. On this day, I didn’t ask them to join me in my world…I joined them in theirs with the mind-set that today, I am one of them. When I left that pasture my step was much lighter!