Have you ever been “picked” by a horse?
A friend was just telling me last night that she was advised to “pick the type of horse she wanted.” That’s really good advice, especially for people who plan to compete in shows, endurance or other events that require a certain type of horse with certain physical features and dispositions. Even if you want a trail horse (and I do not say “just” a trail horse as trail horses must have certain qualities), that horse must have four good legs and the disposition for the work.
But what if the horse chooses you and it’s not the horse you had in mind? What do you do then?
This type of horse purchase or acquisition could be considered an “emotional” choice, rather than a pragmatic one. Keep in mind that horses have needs and when they see or “feel” someone they really connect with or think they could connect with, they might make it difficult for that person to get away without taking them along. Often the person insists they aren’t even “looking” for a horse! Sometimes we can’t get sucked into what the horse wants, because we have concerns in life that prohibit taking on another horse. Like the state of our pocketbook, for example. Horses are not good financial advisors. Or we need a horse for a particular job, and it’s not fair to get one who isn’t up to the task physically or mentally.
The horse who wants you could be a horse that needs a lot of TLC, or a lot of training, or a lot of physical issues dealt with. Or maybe none of the above. You don’t know how long the horse has been thinking about this by the time you get the sense that the he has been working to get his way into your life!
Some people have seen a horse in need on TV and gone to rescue him. They just have a feeling they need to make the horse a part of their life.
Even if you go on Craigslist to look for a horse, you don’t know which one wants to come home with you until you go see him or her. I’ve had horses who were indifferent to my visits, and others who wanted to please so much I could taste it. I have gotten a horse off Craigslist and he’s in our barn right now.
I’ve almost come home with so many horses, but I can only feed so many so that limits the number.
Some people seem to be very practical and don’t pay any attention to the horse who wants them. But maybe horses don’t pick them out, because they know that person may think of them as a commodity or that person is looking for a special kind of horse.
What horses might look for when picking a human might be – someone who listens to them. Someone who meets their needs. Someone who can’t be pushed around. Someone who will want to spend time with them. And of course, they want their basic needs met like food and shelter. I also think some horses are less pragmatic in their search for a human: I think they look at the soul of the human being and connect on a soul level.
Some horses who are rescues or even horses who have been passed around or passed over a lot have a feel about them. Desperation. They may want almost any home. They don’t want to feel so needy, they don’t want to smell bad and have bad habits. And others are more discerning; they don’t want to go home with just anyone.
Some horses hide their physical problems as long as they can, for fear you might see and want to sell them or find them a new home. The sheer effort of holding it all together can be very painful for a horse.
The beauty of the Liberty Foundations is, there is always something a horse can be good at. The relationship is unconditional; the horse at this point is not a prospect for performance, but if he wants to perform, he will want to do this if he has the foundations with you. Whatever the situation, the horse wants reassurance from you that everything will be okay, that he or she is okay.
My first horse, Opal, was diagnosed with melanomas shortly after I met her, but I bought her anyway. We went on to do 800 miles of endurance, before I had to retire her when the melanomas metastasized.
The next two characters were horses I bought specifically for endurance, but I’m certain the horses knew I was shopping and knew they fit the bill. We have enjoyed many wonderful years together.
My most recent mare came to me in dreams two years before I brought her home. I think her involvement in my life happened well before I was aware of her. Before I went to pick up another mare, she appeared in my dream: Take me instead, she said. I knew nothing of her, only her name, which she gave me. I had a very bad accident right after that and was in the hospital but she came to me in dreams. As I became stronger, the dreams became more powerful.
This was so odd, because usually the horses who contact me are my own. I knew of her, but she was in a herd of mostly bay horses, and she is bay, so I wouldn’t have been able to pick her out of the crowd. When I visited my friend Andrea, I asked, which one is Jazzmine? Andrea said, oh, let’s find her.
There was no need to go far. A beautiful bay with a lightning bolt zigzag of white on her forehead walked confidently up to us, and she placed her head on my shoulder. She sniffed me all over. This was her, this was the one, I would know her even if she hadn’t done this by the way she appeared in the dreams. She even smelled familiar.
Andrea said when people came to look at her to buy her, she would disappear suddenly. At that time she was nine, so had managed to evade being purchased since birth! I told Andrea about the dreams.
I worked with Jazzie, getting to know her in a more tangilble way by sitting with her. I walked in her pasture with her. I didn’t do much else because I was just building on what I had experienced in dreams. I had no idea why this horse had contacted me the way she had.
When I didn’t go out there to see her regularly, the dreams became more insistent. When I thought I had a place for her and then didn’t, she colicked a couple of times. I had images of her pressed against the gate, very ready for me to pick her up. She felt big, powerful,but she’s only 15 hands high.
Although she wasn’t the horse I would’ve picked for myself, it is all turning out fine. I believe now, she is a great teacher for me in all aspects of my work and learning.
Jazzie was a beautiful young mare waiting for a person of her own choosing, however flawed and unprepared that person might be. I give thanks to this mare, who came to me through an avenue I wouldn’t have “dreamed of” on my own.
Now if you ask me, did I need another horse? I have to say yes.
(copyright: Susan Smith, OrthoHorse)
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