Updated: Jan 2
I often talk to people and their horses. I tend to have a conversation with both. With the person I will use words, they tell me about their expectations, their goals, their schedules... The horse tells me things with movements, about boundaries, fears, wishes and restlesness. I respond to them with small nods and a shuffle of feet, a change in alignment, distance...the horse will see that I understand them. They usually reach for me out of curiosity. They want to connect and feel out this relationship. Many horses are not used to being acknowledged in this manner. They open up. They ask questions. They relax.
There is one thing that a horse will tell me about every time. This comes after the curiosity, when they have accepted that I hear/see them. They will give me a look, one of those pointed looks that call for my attention and then they will look towards their person with a quick glance back at me followed by a cold shoulder. The message is unmistakable: "I like you but this is my person".
I think horse loyalty is under valued. They care about the person that handles them, the person that comes back day after day, year after year. Food or no food. They know us deeply. They take in so much information about us every time we are with them: how we move, our tension levels, how we sound, how we smell... Horses have a greater memory than most. They remember all this when we have forgotten.
I met a horse that rarely saw his person. He was the most aggressive about telling me. He pinned his ears at me and nodded his nose high towards his person and glowered at me before turning his body away to position himself in front of his person. There was no mistake about how he felt, and how much he'd missed her.
I try to show them that I respect their bond by bowing my head, giving their person a long look then looking away. I don’t really know how to tell the person. I often wonder wether the person realizes how much the horse cares.