A Reminder – Horses are Teaching Us

Me & Hummer- holding on- trotting

I wrote a tribute and a bit of an obituary on Hummer, my recently deceased “warrior-horse,” seen in the photo above. It has been shared quite a bit, much more than I expected, actually. Recently, it was published in a local horse community’s newsletter.

I was reading it again and one of the lines that I wrote really stood out to me. This is the line: “Hummer’s patience with me and my education was endless.”

Hummer did not like to be touched and I was describing that for years Hummer would walk up next to me and stand next to me. The moment I reached over to pet him, he would walk away. Several moments later or the next day, he would try again. I am embarrassed to say that it took me too long to understand that Hummer was trying to communicate his preferences to me: I want to be near you; I don’t want to be touched. My preconceptions about horses blinded me from seeing what he was trying to tell me. All horses want to be petted, scratched and groomed – right? No, that is not always the case.

But Hummer never pinned his ears at me, he never snarled his nostrils, he never swished his tail or bristled his skin. He simply walked away for a long enough period of time for me to “think things over.” I finally understood him. In the remaining years, he would walk up to me and I would stand with him quietly, breathe in deeply and simply enjoy his formidable presence and energy.

Ironically (or not), in recent years, he showed an interest in being petted and scratched. He would come over to me and nudge me a bit and when I reached over to scratched him did not leave. I guess it’s fair to say that we were both evolving and changing.

Which is why the original idea of the line: “Hummer’s patience with me and my education was endless.” is an interesting one, because of course, it is supposed to be the humans who are educating the other animal in our herd of two, and it is us who are supposed to be in the position of having patience, or not. Hummer showed me that this is not always the case, and that it is important that we shift our thinking and consider that we are the ones receiving the education from our horses, and it’s possible that it is the horse that is ultimately trying, as best they can, to be patient with us. It took me some time to really get this, but when it finally began to seep in, this shift in thinking has changed everything for me.

In the next post, I will briefly address the very powerful communication of “just walking away” that Hummer and other horses have taught me – an equally important lesson from my fabulous “warrior-horse.”

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