I’m beginning to understand how much we underestimate horses. To better put it, I am just starting to understand this. I think we do it more then we realize.
My Father in law, Amalio is from Peurto Rico, from a family of farmers. Everything they needed- they grew or raised on this farm, livestock, crops etc. They lived and worked for thier lives on that farm. No refrigeration, so to eat, you would go out in the feild, get the animal, butcher it and have it that night. Water would be fetched from the river morning and night. So as an intrigal part of this lifestyle they had one horse. She didn’t have a name so they just called her “horse” She was a working horse, used to help cary loads and work the feilds, they used her to ride to other parts of the farm or down to the river for water. My father in law used to ride her under the trees and stand on her to pick off the fruit trees which he would then share with Horse. Even if he climbed up in the tree to play, she would wait patiently for them to be ready to ride back to the house.
They had no saddle, no bridle, no halter…didn’t even use ropes…they didn’t need to, the horse did everything they asked. If any of the family needed her they would call to her and say “Come here Horse” and she would.
When they rode her, there were no need for words or pointing out in the direction they wanted to go, they would just think it. There wasn’t ever a need for queues with legs or pointing…She knew because of the connection, the energy..I don’t know, my father in law doesn’t know, he just said it was never a question. She just knew.
They had NO fences. The horse stayed on the farm all the time because she knew that’s her home. The cows too, they just stayed on the property, and would come when they would call out. “Here cows, come here” Amalio says they would always moo first, complaining because they wanted to stay and eat the morning grass with the cool dew on it, but would walk up to be milked anyway, afterwards knowing they could go back out to the pasture to eat, they would leave the house to go to pasture but never left the property lines.
Horse was always there and even though she worked for a living the relationship was there. She would see Amalio come out of the house and walk up to him, nuzzle him and lay her head on his shoulder to be pet. She needed nothing else but the connection. She had food, she had water by going to the river, she had a job but the most important thing that they had with Horse was the connection. No tools were used to get it either, No chains or devices needed, no type of training, no force. She was never whipped, struck, hit…nothing. It was a connection and that’s it. She had a natural life she needed nothing from them because it was all provided. Open space, water and food. It was all that was required but the one thing she could get from them was the partnership. The love, the affection, a purpose-working with her friends the humans made her feel so fufilled she stayed with them for her entire life by her own free will.
From what my father in law tells me this was normal for farms, they didn’t find this special, it wasn’t a story of a mythical dream horse, this wasn’t odd. It was standard.
I compare that to what I see today watching people and horses together. Recently I’ve been watching cow sorting my friends are doing. My friends are natural horsemanship people that work on the connection. They don’t need to rely on tools like spurs, severe bits, straps to keep the horses heads down, they don’t rely on yanking the reins around while ignoring the horses head thrashing showing it’s protest, they don’t constantly kick the horses sharply in the ribs or have problems with the horses crow hopping, rearing, refushing to go forward or dancing around because it doesn’t know where to go…ALL of which I have seen from MOST of the other riders the mere three times I’ve gone out to watch.
It shows me, there really is something different we used to do and hopefully are getting back to that works. None of these tools help because the tools we need to use, our body language, our timing and our energy are everything to the horse. If you don’t use that…if you have no connection, no partnership and don’t take the time to focus on that…you aren’t really riding. I know you can win ribbons, trophies and contests anyway because horses are so very willing but if you are one of these people I sure hope you thank your horse for being so accepting and forgiving and not throwing you while you try to prove how great a rider you are while glossing over the partnership and connection part. If it wasn’t for the horse being so accepting even when being treated unfairly, and thier natural desire to want to bridge that gap in the connection when we fail. It wouldn’t be possible. I see people in the cow sort that win time by getting all the cows thru before the clock runs out but I don’t view everyone as a winner, to me they fail when they don’t have the connection too. True winners beat the time by using the connection, never losing it, don’t cause the horse to jolt or fear, do not cause them to scream out in protest that they don’t know what’s going on or the correction they got was too harsh. The horse that’s tossing it’s head around in reaction to a yank, or dancing because they don’t get what thier rider wants them to do in my eyes fails entirely.
We need to work on that partnership. We need to re connect. We have spent so many years ignoring it that we have actually trained the connection away. I highly doubt that was by the horses choice. I know we can get it back, I’ve seen it! It takes work though and time a lot of things people today aren’t interested in but it can be. If we put it as a priority.
If horses crave the desire to have a type of relationship with a human where they would chose to stay in a yard without a fence, work with humans by choice, chose you as family…If they are so willing that they will try over and over again for years trying to tell us something bothers them, while we ignore them but so forgiving they will still try for us anyway, still loving enough to watch out for us on thier backs. Why are we working backwards? We underestimate what they can do because we fail ourselves …..and we fail them in doing that. It’s a tragedy but it can change. It should change, and that starts with us.