To be accepted no matter who you are. To be loved no matter how you feel. To be understood regardless of your mood – good as well as bad.
Those 3 things are something that makes humans feel understood, loved and cared for.
It is no different with horses. They are different individuals as we are. They have feelings like we do. They can be in a good or a bad mood as we can. Those 3 things are probably things that most of us expect to receive from other people or at least we wish for it. From my point of view those 3 things are not reserved to human beings, but should concern and include our horses as well. This whole thing might be a little abstract and therefore I would like to share with you a little story…
Yesterday a new horse arrived to the farm where Alvaro and Torrin live. It doesn’t take much attention from Torrin, but Alvaro always gets extremely stressed and stallion-like when new mares arrive on the other side of the fence. This makes Alvaro very protective even though they aren’t in his pasture and he acts completely like a stallion who has to protect his mares. That another gelding gets to live with all the girls certainly isn’t making Alvaro feel any better about it!
Today a young girl came to visit and she deeply wished for some togetherness with my boys. Just chilling together and hanging out which usually is Alvaro’s favourite thing in the world to do. I therefore brought him in from the pasture to meet the visitor.
As soon as we got inside the arena and he was let loose, he started running around and whinny like a stallion. He was clearly stressed and totally sure he missed something out there. By then it was time for me to decide how to handle the situation. Reality was that a girl just came to get some togetherness with the horses and now Alvaro acted up like crazy.
First of all I could have chose to punish him for his behaviour. To make him stand still and stop him from whinny my hearing to death. As you probably already know this was not how I chose to handle the situation. Like already mentioned I decided to let him go inside the arena. Allow him to get out his frustrations as well as to be or do whatever he wanted. When he calmed down a bit I started following him around. Walking by his side and explaining to him that everything would be fine. That he would get back out there again and he didn’t had to worry so badly. Telling him that I understood his frustration.
As time passed he started following me around as well and we stopped here and there to just breathe and look through the gate for the others. At one point he seemed to understand that I accepted how he felt and shared his point of view the best I could. He started searching towards me as well and put his forehead on my thighs. Breathing deeply and finding peace…
He afterwards felt calm enough to approach his visitor and share a calm moment with her before we went back to the pasture.
Point of the story is that accepting each other’s situations through mutual understanding is a gift to us. Giving our horses the space and understanding they need when the feel upset, stressed or scared instead of just expecting them to act the way we think is proper. Usually they will get to a state of mind we appreciate much sooner if we show them that they are allowed to be who they are. To be individuals with their own feelings. On the other hand punishing a horse for feeling the way he does will only create fear and insecurity about his rider or handler.
I mean… Wouldn’t you feel better much sooner if people tried to understand your situation and support you instead of telling you how stupid you were for being sad or frustrated about something?