This year was one full of change for me, my human family and horses. What is most significant to me about a year is that it encapsulates everything you’ve done, everything that’s happened to you, and all what you cannot control and that which you have put into action.
There is a Norwegian story about the birth of Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem, that claims that the animals in the stable watched the birth and then they began to praise God for what they had just seen. Apparently this went on before the shepherds came on the scene. When the shepherds appeared the animals fell silent. The only ones purported to hear the animals were Mary, Joseph and the Christ child.
My mare Zuzka comes to stand beside me at the gate, ready to have her halter slipped on. She is one who often will want to play games about being haltered, suggesting, no, I’m too busy today to go ride. Or maybe it’s just the game she likes. But this day she really wants to go out. I can often tell if she wants to go out on the trail, by how she stands looking off in the distance, when there is no activity on the horizon that can be seen with the naked eye. A sort of longing to be out there.
One of the interesting things that comes up for me in practice is how people will feel that their horse can do no wrong. That he won’t suddenly get excited by a herd of wild horses in the distance, he will absolutely never step on their toes, and he most certainly will never suddenly jerk his head up and rear if something startles him.
Years ago, when I got my mare Zuzka, the trainer I was working with at the time was so happy when we were able to put her in the same corral space with my gelding Khami. The trainer said it helped her training because the mare would be moved around all day by him.
After I had some time to think about it, I think the theme of this past Saturday’s Liberty Foundation Workshop was “horse listening.”
The good boy horse is one who continually does what is asked. For some trainers and owners, this is exactly what they want, a horse that does not offer any challenges. For some good boy or girl horses, life is good enough that there is no need to question too much. For others, they have had their wishes trained out of them.
The horse’s self-image is something that we don’t really talk about because it’s hard to envision the horse looking at himself. I would venture to say the horse sees from the inside out because he feels himself in his skin. His nature is like an orb shining from the inside out from his heart through his skin.
My gelding Khami inspired me to write this blog. But he’s not the only one: there are others I have worked with over the past years who are like him in one way or another.