This has been a splendiferous weekend altogether. Such an amazing feeling to have three days off in a row. (Monday, 2nd June is Western Australia’s Foundation Day public holiday, celebrating the settlement of the State on June 1, 1829.) After a stressful working week, it takes a couple of days, at least, to wind down. There is always so much to do that there is no time for during the week. Sunday never feels like a holiday to me, but today, Monday, really does.
Saturday was a blur of shopping and cleaning. I had a lovely dinner with a friend, then a breakfast at Kings Park on Sunday morning. I went to Midland to pick Connor up from a stay with his grandparents, and bought him Hungry Jacks (Burger King for those outside of Australia) for lunch, which he ate while I drove out to the property where my horses area agisted (boarded).
The two of us trudged across the wet grass in the paddock (50-100 acres at a guess — I’m hopeless at guessing — but it’s quite a good size) to the horses, who had naturally installed themselves at the farthest side. They live in a herd of about nine horses. It’s horsey heaven, but I always feel a pang of guilt for neglecting them. Silly, really, because they are probably happier without humans “interfering” with their natural lifestyle!
Thumper came up to me first (darn it, I forgot to bring carrots!) and, after pinning his ears back at a grey gelding who dared to try join in the fun, submitted to a rub. He’s long been the dominant horse in his own sub-herd (himself, Jade, Rani) and also, evidently, over all. Jade stood a little way off and I soon left Thumpy to give her a rub too. Then I moved over to Rani, who stood a little distance away.
Rani is blind, or at the very least he has a significant sight impairment, due to cataracts. He was the first horse I ever had a real relationship with, and he taught me almost all I know about horses. It is hard to imagine another horse being as special to me as Rani.
As I approached, Rani gave a little shy. He must have seen the movement, but not understood it. When I spoke to him, he stopped and so I came up to him and gave him a big scratch. He’s always loved his scratchies! When he first came to live with me, back in 1999, I used to be so worried that he kept rubbing himself on me, using me as a scratching pole. Wasn’t that a sign of disrespect? I asked a horsey email list I belonged to about it, and one woman wrote to me, “Has it occurred to you that he just wants a scratch? Why not scratch him!” So ever since then I have offered it and am invariably rewarded with soft eyes and lips and an expression of utter bliss… ;-)
Horses are wonderful creatures.
I cannot describe how I feel when I am with my horses. It’s like everything of any importance in my life is here, right now, with them. Obviously that’s not strictly true, but that sense is undeniably there. Horses have no agendas (though they can be cunning and sneaky at times!) insofar as they are what they are, and see you as you are. All the posturing and pretense that you might display to the world, trying to get others to see you as you want to be seen, means nothing to them. They couldn’t give a hoot about image. They see you as you are, not as you want to be. They see you.
Therefore, if something is not quite right, they know it. You can walk up to them smiling and talking cheerfully while your heart is breaking inside. Most people would never know the difference but horses will get agitated, knowing there is incongruency there. I first read about this in The Tao of Equus by Linda Kohanov and have seen it for myself time and again. Horses are highly tuned in to what’s real, and know when something is not right. Most really don’t mind if you walk into their paddock upset. What will drive them away is walking into their paddock upset, and pretending you’re not.
(Think about it. Don’t you feel agitated sometimes when you sense something not quite right with another person? Could it not be that you have detected an incongruency between the image they project and where they really are at a given moment?)
My horses are a mirror of me. My relationship with them is a mirror of where I am in life. They are so totally grounding for that reason. I always come away aching in my heart, and longing to be with them full time.
I’m working on it, but in the meantime visiting them is a bittersweet thing.