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“Horse, I Know What’s Wrong”

We try to help our horses all the time, especially when something’s bothering them, or they are sick, or they are concerned. We love them and we feel a responsibility to them. This is a good thing.

I believe that when there is something that is less than optimal for our horses that is occurring, anytime that we can SHOW them with our actions that we see it, we understand it, we are helping them with it… it’s an opportunity to show our horses: “I get you, and I get it.” It’s a bridge that we create between two species that often seem to not be in sync or complete understanding of each other.

Case in point: Yesterday when I went out to the herd and fed them their afternoon snack, two of my horses were struggling to eat hay. They continually paced and moved about with a mild frantic energy. It was similar to what you see when a horse is being bothered by a singular insect that just won’t leave them alone. Agitation. I am watching this, trying to find something that would explain it, when one of the horses went over to a fence and began to rub his entire body on it. Aha, itching.

I went over to his body, and sure enough, he had some hives on his neck and chest. I checked my other horse’s body, and she had a few hives as well, not as many however. When I scratched them, she was blissfully relieved. I have oral medicine for this, which I gave them promptly. and then I brought out a tube of hydrocortizone cream and rubbed a generous amount on their itchy areas. They each stood perfectly still, head in the air, as I did this. I looked at their eyes and they each were looking back at me with some gratitude, of course, but I also believe there was a sense of: “You understand what’s going on with my body in this moment.” I smiled and told them that I did, indeed.

When you are helping your horse with something, stop and really look at their expression. There is often a feeling of relief, of course, but I also think there is sometimes an expression of gentle and welcome surprise. When I see this expression (admittedly, I may be reading into it…) I will say out loud to my horse: “I know what’s bothering you, see, I get it.” I believe that moments like these are important in the creation of a connection with our horse. A bridge is being laid between us, a bridge of understanding.

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