Friday, January 30, 2009

Same Old, Same Cold

Shall I Repeat Myself?

At the risk of being boring....cold again, ice again, no ride again. The weekend may bring a break but I doubt the footing will improve enough for any serious riding. I may manage a hack if it's nice out.

The Boys seem to be quite content just hanging out, but I do notice them paying a bit more attention to me than they might when the weather is great. I know I am the source of food this time of year, but Toby, especially, tends to come to me for hugs and scratches whenever he gets the opportunity. Of the three, Tucker is the least cuddly, but he never wants to be left out of anything.

It is interesting how many people will ask me what my horses are like. They want to know if horses have personalities, like dogs, mostly. Since, as we all know, trying to explain just how a horse behaves and reacts to things is a rather complicated process, so I generally tell them--"Kind of picture a 1200 pound dog and you're almost there." It's not exactly accurate, but horses do crave attention at times, need to be fed and groomed, will kind of "heel" on a "leash" and certainly are as, if not more, trainable as a dog.

But when you think about it, the rest of "being a horse" is far more complicated than that. They are flight animals, not predators, and their physical needs are far different. They need a lot of care in feeding, shoeing, handling, and are quite capable of spending the day without sitting at your feet looking longingly at you all day. And the correct methods of training them are complex and varied.

But I guess people want to know if they are individuals with likes, dislikes, and opinions about things. To that, I give an unqualified, "YES!" Their feelings get hurt, they get angry, the try to figure out how to get out of work, they solve puzzles, they worry about things, and it's pretty evident they can act out of jealousy or love. While we may put all these reactions into human terms so we better understand them, we see and recognize emotions in our horses every day. One horse is a bully, another a coward, one is honest, another cheats, one is daring, another cautious, one is humble and other arrogant. Some are easy to train and others offer a challenge at every new step. Some are "bombproof" and others spook at a butterfly.

Each is a unique individual, yet they all speak a common language. It is up to us to learn that language to we can ask them to become our partners. We may have to "whisper" to some of them to be understood and "shout" at others, but except in very rare cases, we can always discover a way to work together.

When I tell people I've been riding for over 45 years, and I still take lessons, they just seem puzzled. I guess by now, I should know it all.

I don't, and I probably never will.


  1. Yep when people ask me how horses are. I first explain they are prey animals, then that they are very intelligent or at least emotional intelligent and teh best trainers on Earth.

    I always find fascinating seeing the world thourgh their prey eyes.

  2. "When I tell people I've been riding for over 45 years, and I still take lessons, they just seem puzzled. I guess by now, I should know it all."

    That struck a chord with me. I'll always remember in about 1989 I met a person then 18 at work - she said "I don't need lessons I have my own horse" .... duh.

    maybe people think that a top rider going to his/her trainer is in some way different from the rest of us going for a lesson ... which of course it isn't!

    I think we all carry on learnign until the day we drop...