Yesterday Heart of the Redwoods Horse Rescue took in a new horse. Misty, our President, and I went up to Crescent City to get Captain Jack. A good-hearted guy, Jack is VERY communicative. He was pretty anxious to be leaving his familiar surroundings. On the trip, at the vet, and in his new stable Jack let us know in eloquent equine language about his concerns.
When I listened, Jack gave me his very best. It got me thinking, how often do I fail to "hear" what horses are trying to tell me? Now I'm not talking about things at the "animal communicator" level. I'm talking about regular equine language - what you can hear and see when you take the time to pay attention.
Our "dialogue" went something like this:
Cherie: I walk in Jack's directions, stopping occasionally, moving slow. Jack sees me and walks away, showing me his butt.
Jack: Who is this strange person? I feel her attention. Oh Oh. I don't know her. This worries me, what is going to happen? I'm going to tell her to slow down or better yet, just leave me alone.
Cherie: He is walking away. He isn't too sure about me. I stand, breathe slowly, turn sideways, get smaller, point my center away from Jack. Wait. He cocks an ear my way. I take a couple of sideways steps not looking at him. He shifts his weight away from me. I stop, wait, breathe, and start talking about what I'm doing and who I am. He is still.
Jack: I'll just skootch over here away from her. Maybe she will get the message and go away. Oh good, she stopped. Now what is she doing? Hmmmmm. She feels sort of soft, not sharp, no poking-at-me energy. Let me check her out again. Points ear. Oh-oh, she got closer, but it doesn't feel too bad. Maybe she is ok, she is talking to me.
Misty, our President at HRHR, knows how to listen to horses.
To often I get caught up in the "business" I am about and forget that I have a sentient partner with their own preferences and ideas about what works best. I wonder how many times horses get labeled when the real problem is that their human is "hearing impaired" when it comes to listening to equine language.
When we listen, the rewards are tremendous - the eye softens, our bond deepens, and our beloved equine companion dares to reveal more of their self to us.
If you want to learn more about the language of horses, here is a very well written article, "How To Tell What Your Horse is Saying". It starts with this quote from an old cowboy: