Friday, October 24, 2008

Herd Bound? Buddy Sour?

I've been thinking a lot about horses, their relationship with the herd, and what is there for us human types to learn. Let me tell you, I know the frustration of traipsing about after your horse as she, he, or it shows you their tail and scoots away from wherever you move. And I know that a bellowing neigh in your ear can put your ear drums into a week long state of shock. Both Red and Lyra took some work to get our exits from the general pasture and the herd to be drama free.

Red was classic. I would lead him out of the gate and he would swell to about 20 feet. He showed me that horses, as well as elephants, know how to "trumpet" - over and over and over again. I remember walking by one woman - my 20 foot tall horse literally dancing circles around me, and I see her face pale as she stuttered, "He s-s-s-s-sure is a lot of horse." Bout then I was thinking he sure is a lot of a pain in my butt - and he sure is one HERD BOUND pain at that. That was a couple of years ago. These days I call and Red comes from far, far away.

There are some amazing equestrians where I board. Their horses gleam with health. Some of those horses live all alone in paddocks and a few, sadly, are incarcerated in stalls. It is only a few horses, mostly in our general pasture, who subsist with minimal care, owned humans who rarely come to call. One mare, Red's beloved, runs whenever her owner comes. The poor owner has to go through all sorts of tribulations just to catch his mare. Once caught she is gentle enough. One day last summer I heard her owner ran out of patience and took a motorcycle into the GP, trying to run his mare into a corner. Ran all the horses all over before the manager put a stop to the bullshit. Lucky I didn't hear about this foolish maneuver until weeks after it happened.

Some people might call Red's sweetie herd bound, I'd call her pretty dang smart to resist leaving a herd where she is safe, has a specific role, and is held in high regard. So exactly why would she, or any other horse, surrender to the control of an idiot who has earned no trust. Why would any horse want to leave their herd or familiar environment under the control of someone who has no relationships to offer them, no alternative herd hierarchy to offer for refuge, support and clarity while away from the the larger group?

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