I do like a good chat, and have reached a stage in life where I am blessed to have a few very good friends, that I could say literally anything to (and regularly do!). Tag has also been privy to my ramblings and seems to move his ears at all the right times as I ‘blah blah blah’ the whole way on a hack. Talking, I think, builds relationships, even if the recipient doesn’t answer back vocally. And I have found over the years with Tag, when it was my responsibility as his human, to ensure that he was constantly reassured and well looked after, that I, without realising it, have also gained a huge amount from this relationship. His vulnerability and inability to look after himself has ensured that I have always tried to be there for him when he needed me, even if at times it was me that needed him. I have experienced this with different horses over the years and I find that most horses instinctively know when you feel vulnerable. Depending on the relationship you have with that horse, and their personality, will dictate the outcome of this. A sharp pony or horse may see your vulnerability as an opportunity to ditch you in a hedge – in my case a prickly one at the bottom of the gallop, when my friend nearly fell off her excitable mount because she was laughing so much, as I picked thorns out of, well everywhere. A more sensitive type of equine will feel your vulnerability and maybe do nothing, but quite often that’s what’s needed.
Caption; Me and my mate ‘Gadget’, with the eternally worried look on his face.
One of my charges, when I groomed in Australia, was a chestnut gelding known affectionately as Gadget. So named because his legs were up to his rather large ears and as he jumped 1m50 tracks, it was like watching ‘Inspector Gadget’ manoeuvre over the huge oxers, taking a lifetime to land at the other side, ‘Go go Gadget legs’! At one show I’ll never forget, he was having a bit of a hard time and his gadget legs were letting him down and he was knocking poles down in every class. Unlike his stable mates, the two stallions, who were so full of bravado and made it their business to not only go clear, but to buck after every fence, Gadget was letting the team down and boy did he know it. Whether it was my pity for him or it was just bad timing, I was also feeling pretty sorry for myself. It was post-olympics, and the hangover had well and truly kicked in and for the first time in 20 months, I felt like going home. This was a new feeling to me, having met so many lifelong friends and setting up home so well, it hit me for six. When the days jumping was over and I went to do the last check of the horses before bed, Gadget was lying down and looked beat, just how I felt. I went in beside him and lay down at his head and had a good cry, with him nudging me the whole time. That is a shared moment I will never forget and I know we were a comfort to each other. Everyone has times like that and when horses are you friends firstly and competitors secondly, there will always be a chestnut/bay/grey shoulder to cry on. We packed up, to go to the next show, early the following morning and our usual routine and need to go on and win more classes, ensured that neither Gadget or I dwelled too long on our emotions. It’s always good to talk, even if the answers to your questions can’t be spoken. #therapyofhorses #friendtherapy #roughwiththesmooth #itsgoodtotalk #nobetterearsthanahorses #ifyoulistenyouwillhearthemanswer