Sunday, August 9, 2020

A Pale and Poor Substitute

What is your model of what a relationship with a horse should be? Do you refer to, or even think of, your horse as your "baby"? Do you try to treat your horse the way that you would want to be treated? Do you feel the need to provide your horse with more and better things in order to assure his happiness (and affection)? Do you love your horse so much that you find yourself constantly worrying  about his medical, nutritional, or emotional needs?

I hope not.

Thoughts have consequences and words create thoughts. Constantly referring to an adult horse as a baby creates the thought that the horse is a fragile, helpless creature constantly in need of the saving grace that only you can provide. An adult horse is not a helpless infant. Although its digestive system is made of the most fragile crystal, the rest of its body is made of steel. Be careful with his digestive system and polish the steel that he is made of  with regular exercise. The healthiest, happiest horse is the horse that can move in a paddock with other horses and is given the opportunity to tire his muscles and burn the stress from his mind with long hard miles of riding.

Not a baby--a horse.

Do not treat your horse the way that you would like to be treated. The Golden Rule does not apply to horses. Instead treat your horse the way he wants to be treated. As a prey animal his emotional and physical needs are often polar opposites of what we, as predators need. As a prey animal the horse;s primary drive is to find security. As a predator our primary drive is to find autonomy. Until one understands the extraordinary implications of that dichotomy one can only understand the artificial horse that one creates in one's own mind. Without that understanding no real relationship with a horse is possible.

Not a human--a horse.

Your horse does not need your money. He needs your time. In that regard horses are like children. Just as too many parents try to provide their kids with every expensive gadget or fad that comes along in order to make it clear to the world how much they love their children, too many horse owners live in a ridiculous race to purchase whatever the established horse world and advertisements in equine magazines tell them that their horse "needs."

Not a shiny new car---a horse.

Perhaps the saddest relationship to be found between horses and humans is  among those who live in constant "worry" for their horse's health. Worry is a useless substitute for love. In many ways it is the most corrosive substitute for love. It creates a relationship that takes an emotional toll on the owner while doing nothing positive for the horse. Eventually, the horse becomes a prisoner of the owner's projected hypochondria and the horse's physical health does begin to suffer.

Not a patient in ICU--a horse

Each of these models have one thing in common. They do not produce healthy relationships. Each of these configurations of horse/human interactions are nothing but pale and poor substitutes for the extraordinary, live altering  results of having a relationship with a horse that is based on understanding the horse's world and learning how to enter into that world

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