This is the first part of one of the books I’m working on.
There is a romance to horses. Throughout recorded time, on all continents, save those two icy ones, horses have been admired, loved, written about, drawn, painted, ridden, bred. Galloping horses with manes flying, bareback and bridle-less pounding along sandy beaches at the foamy water’s edge. What teenage girls dreams are made of. And a lot of adults.
We have a love affair with horses. Would anyone argue with that sentence? Yet, if we dissect it…
We have a love affair “with” horses. With. Preposition – a long word for many of the shortest words in our vocabulary. Yet, what strong words they are. Since horses are creatures and not inanimate objects such as, for instance, tables, we tend to say ‘love affair with’ horses. We don’t have love affairs with tables. Even if it’s a really great looking table. But the word ‘with’ implies reciprocation. Something that goes both ways. Which then begs the question: Do horses love us? Do they or can they have a ‘love affair with’ us? How do they show this, if so? Why do we so desperately want to believe our horse loves us? And what, pray tell, do we do to deserve their love?
If we love horses so much, how do we explain the stalls, cross-ties, spurs, whips and chains over the nose, just to name a few? If we love horses so much, why the general consensus by ‘top trainers’ in the world that horses are merely reactionary, don’t think and must be treated like a young child because they don’t understand much? Why is this thought process accepted instead of questioned? Says who? Someone who hasn’t watched horses closely, I’d say. Someone who maybe accepted those statements from their trainer and never questioned them.
Most horse people say they love their horse. What the devil does that mean? I love looking at my horse? I love telling people I have a horse? I love telling people I ride? I love saying I’m a trainer? When you love something, do you do what’s best for it or what’s most convenient for you?
A while back, a trainer started bringing her horses to me. Her personal horses, clients’ horses she had in training and Mustangs she was preparing for the challenges. She wanted me to teach the horses how to come to her at liberty amongst other things. She didn’t particularly want to learn how to get the horses to come; she wanted me to do it because it only takes me 15 minutes or so. I still tried to teach her; dragging her all over from behind to get her in the right position and basically operating her like a puppet, but…
As she brought each horse, I noticed recurring symptoms.
The horses didn’t lead well. And while that’s another book I’m working on (it’s called Horse Tricks… Like Leading), what I mean is that they’d be way behind and she was for the most part, dragging them around. They were in a state of rigid whenever she was within 15 feet of them. Their eyes had a white ring. And each of them had tremors when she approached.
I asked about all these things and was told that the ‘idiot’ horse this or such. Each client horse was the stupidest horse she’d ever been around. Her horses – she hadn’t done anything with them lately, blah, blah. Yet, she frequently said she loves horses.
One day she called and said she was bringing one of her Mustangs back over who I had already taught to come to me, but she was having trouble with him. She said, “I’ll be there about noon.” I’m waiting. I’m waiting. I’m waiting. And she pulls up a little after 3. The horse is wringing wet and filthy. Turns out that first she couldn’t catch him and had to chase him into a pen and corner him to get a halter on him. Then, when she was leading him to the trailer, he busted loose and took off. The property was fenced, but she couldn’t catch him.
I approached the horse, petted him for a bit and soothed his troubled mind and started asking him to come. He did. He was hesitant at first, looking to me for reassurance and safety, but then he realize that I would provide that and he came.
As we sat on the fence talking, she was mad as a hornet about him not coming to her. I was quiet for a bit while I weighed the possible outcomes of saying what I wanted or keeping my mouth shut and decided to go with: “Has it occurred to you that none of your horses like you?”