Rehabbing retired senior horses can easily become a full-time job. Being such large animals, the average horse weighs 1000 – 1200 lbs., and needs a lot of space. They eat 20 lbs. of hay per day and pass 10 manure piles per day. Everything about them is on a large scale.
When a horse reaches maturity, they are incredibly powerful animals. It’s no accident that they talk about “horse power” in a car. Over the centuries they have done many jobs for humans, from farming and transportation to war. Today they’re even being used to help humans in emotional and physical therapy.
They are so versatile, and can do so many things for us. Because of that, one important question is easy to overlook: Who are they?
I recall a story of a woman who had been involved with horses for 30 years, riding different disciplines. Not until she took in a “grumpy” retired service horse did she realize she did not know what to do to help him. He was always unhappy, pinning his ears. Desperate to find a solution to his unhappiness, she stepped outside her box of 30 years and found a body work practitioner who had a different skill set.
After this horse’s body work session she learned some techniques to do with him to help him feel better in his body. Over time, this horse’s demeanor completely changed. His happiness returned. He no longer pinned his ears.
The experience changed her life. She said that in all of her 30 years of experience with horses, she never knew them, until now. A door had been opened into the world from the horse’s point of view.
With everything horses do for us, whether riding or therapy work, it’s easy to forget that they are sentient beings who have their own horse life that is different than ours.
The next time you see your horse, take a moment and pause in the midst of everything you need to do and just be. Experiment with a few minutes of doing nothing and just being in the presence of your horse. I’d love to hear what you learn.