What are you doing with your horse today? Whatever it is, I have something for you to add. A little challenge, perhaps. A reflection on honour.
January 22 is a day that our herd at Amazing Horse Country has set aside as special. A day to take a few minutes and honour our horses, past and present, that hold meaning in our lives.
Why do we own horses? Why do we ride, drive and do groundwork with them? Why do we put effort and, let’s face it, money (and sometimes a lot of it) into caring, tack and facilities? What drives us to do these things?
We might argue that it’s a passion. Certainly it is. Passion is defined as a powerful compelling emotion. But that doesn’t answer the question. Why do we feel that?
I believe that the answer to that varies with every horseperson. I can only honestly speak for myself, which I’m about to do. Maybe, you’ll find yourself thinking the same thing, or discover you have similar thoughts. I’d love to hear them and you can comment below the article.
When we understand horses and have matured beyond myth and thoughts of personification, we also understand that horses are completely honest by nature. Without the capability of pretending or acting. Honesty can be muted by fear or distrust, but it is always there.
Honesty is something to be encouraged. As leaders, we rely on our followers to be honest about their perceptions and concerns. A leadership quality is the ability to honour honesty with acceptance and understanding, giving support when needed.
Honesty and blame exist in separate worlds; honesty is also the acceptance that as leaders, we shoulder responsibility.
Vulnerability and Openness
I’ve often mentioned something called Confidence in Vulnerability. What that means is that we can feel vulnerable and be comfortable doing so; not putting up walls nor feeling the need to defend oneself.
It’s a hard thing to do, sometimes. But maybe one of the most important, because any walls we put up are a direct barrier to true connection. Its also important because we ask vulnerability of our horses; in turn, as leaders, we must also demonstrate it.
Confidence in vulnerability allows us to be open and share our thoughts and feelings. It allows us to understand and empathize; key factors in relationships with anyone, including our horses.
Companionship is natural and intrinsic to all living beings. It’s about supporting each other in rough times. It is a seeking of understanding and empathizing and a lack of selfishness. Companionship is a deep relationship; a gift.
A companion need not be another person. We are quite familiar with companion animals and recognize their value in our lives and the lives of others.
Companionship is also faith. Faith eclipses trust in meaning and scope. We might trust a specific person or horse in one circumstance, but not another. Faith, though, is beyond that. You can think of it like an all-encompassing trust. It’s a relationship component that we all aspire to as horsepeople.
Freedom from Judgement
While a horse has values, such as the herd, safety and physical things such as food, water and shelter, they lack the moral groundings of humans. This is fantastic, because that also means they are free of judgment and the negative emotions that go with it.
Emotional moral-based judgements cause many problems in the human world from disagreements to fights to wars. But when we take away concepts like right and wrong, concepts a horse is incapable of comprehending, we have a purity: seeing the way things truly are, with clarity unclouded by the convolutions of human thinking.
Company with a horse is an escape into a world that affords us the ability to be who we really are. And be accepted for that.
Everyone has their own definition of the word connection as it pertains to a human-horse relationship. For some, it may refer to the physical response of a horse to a request. For others it may exist on an entirely empathetic level: the sharing of emotion.
Personally, to be connected to a horse is a level of sharing I don’t experience anywhere else in life. A sharing of focus and energy. A sharing of confidence; of vulnerability. A sharing of trust and even moreso: of faith.
When we ride we strive to move physically with our horse; to be one with them in motion. Connection, to me, is the mental equivalent of that: to be one with our horse – in mind and spirit.
A Day to Honour our Horses
My outlet for life struggles – such as loss – is in writing (and of course, spending time with horses). A Day to Honour Our Horses began several years ago when I lost my beloved companion, Spud. Writing about our life together not only helped me in a healing sense, but truly revealed so many things about relationships that we take for granted on a day to day basis. I’ve noted a few of those in the paragraphs above.
At this time last year, I wrote about our lead horse, Ty. He was Spud’s best buddy in the herd. And in 2022, we said our goodbyes to Ty. And not only we humans, but every horse in the herd had a moment of connection with him before he passed. A witness to that, I felt a mixture of awe, humbleness, understanding and sorrow.
I miss Ty, but I don’t mourn losing him, if that makes any sense. I feel good that Ty is in a better place as his health was failing. I learned many things from him about benevolent leadership in the horse world. He taught me how to be a better horse. I’ll carry that with me and pass it on in my own teachings.
Just for a Minute
My challenge for you is simple, really. Whatever you’re doing, quit – it can wait one minute. Head out to your horse(s). Just be yourself. Maybe put a hand on their shoulder. Focus on their warmth; their energy. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and let it out. Smile. Enjoy being a horse in the herd. Honour them for the experiences they afford us. Honour them for what – and who – they are. Be grateful: you’re enjoying a horse moment, one that the majority of people on Earth will never experience.
Just for a minute.