Recently I was walking with my horse and a friend in the woods. My friend had her phone video, and she recorded some of our activities, allowing me to share this one with you.
My horse is fed at the same time each day, and I was hurrying to get us back to the paddock on time. My horse wanted to stay to graze a bit at a meadow we crossed. I told her it was time for her to be fed and we needed to get back on time. She is probably acutely aware of this anyway, and further, we were directly behind the paddock in which she was to be fed. We were behind it, but could not get in without walking about two tenths of a mile to return to the gate. Knowing my horse could easily catch up, I strode on. Agnes went ahead and was able to videotape my horse running from the pasture to rejoin us. She passed me by, and seemed to be a bit excited – perhaps even from hearing the caretaker approach the other horses to feed.
I praised her for coming with us, but she passed right by. She seemed to slow down to regroup, but my dog suddenly ran out right by my horse’s legs – a favorite feint for my cattledog cross. This seemed to startle the horse, and she dashed off again – but only for a moment. She soon slowed her trot to a walk, circled, and awaited me. When we were rejoined, we continued to the paddock for feeding time.
My horse and I don’t like to be separated. If I walk ahead of her, she soon comes running up from behind. But, I am also at unease. If I don’t see her right away, I usually turn back and make sure there is no problem. On this occasion, I was stricken with the fact that she didn’t run straight back to be fed. Even though it was time. Even though we were travelling toward that end. Even though she was already running. Even though the dog spooked her (not a lot, but still…). Even though she was totally free to run away. Even though she had passed me at a good clip already. Nonetheless, once she caught us, she turned and awaited our company.
I thought of all the barn-sour horses I rode as a child – all the cases where the horses desire to be back at home was greater than any desire to be with me – greater than any care for me or my safety. My horse has shown again and again that she will wait if something happens to me. She will wait even if food is calling her. I think that this kind of friendship – this elastic, unbreakable bond, is what many animal lovers really crave with their companion animals. I think, if people only knew how easy and fun it is to develop a bond with an animal that draws them to us with a strength greater than their love for food, surely EVERYONE would want to develop such a bond. I want such a bond! So, why have I been letting it lapse?
This past year, life has been especially challenging and I had let my relationship with this wonderful horse slip. By spending good time together and intertwining our lives more again, I am relieved to see she forgives my lapses and is still invested in our friendship, as am I.
Not to mention, I love walking in the woods together!
video taken by Agnes Meiling