girl with horse

Connections

Someone asked me recently why I care so much about causes that are not my own?

Which made me wonder, what makes us choose which causes to care about? I realize, while these causes may not effect me directly in my day to day, I relate to these causes, I’m connected to them, because it effects the people and animals I love. I am connected to those that these causes do effect, so I care.

Connections are what drives us. Connections are where we find ourselves, how we identify ourselves, where we ground ourselves connecting us to the world around us, connections what give our life value and meaning. Fear, building walls, depression, shame, guilt, anxiety, self-depreciation, are what leads to disconnection. Having healthy connections is one of the most important pieces of having a healthy emotional state, for us and for our horses.

Welfare of horses is a cause I care about because I love them, I am connected to some individuals that make me care about the whole. But one aspect is to consider our horse’s connections. If we want our animals to have a healthy emotional state, resulting in being in a good place for training and learning, we need to assure they have an appropriate social life. This includes their connections to other horses, which is the baseline for them understanding who they are and where they belong in the world. (Insert song β€œThis is where I belong” from Spirit). Horses are often a victim of their human’s whims, their herds are not chosen by who they like or consider family, but rather who the human wants as another horse. This leaves them limited and their domestic connections imperfect.

Their connections to their humans are also extremely important, but does not negate their need for their same-species peers. While they may have a tight bond with their human, there are social needs that just can’t be mimicked or met by a human who is only able to spend a few hours per day with them. Some horses are socially secure and light-hearted about their human partners, happy to work with anyone who treats them well. While others need the security of a well known and understood, consistent and safe human partner. While training is important, it can only come after an appropriate connection has begun.

Relationships and connections do not happen with a quick pat or showing up once a week for an hour ride. Connections are forged through time and cooperation. Working together to solve problems and to live in co-existence. Nothing builds a relationship like time spent together, without worrying about what you’re doing necessarily. But if the time you spend together feels good, it will hurry the bond along. Spend time grooming in free space, not for making them look nice, but for making them feel good. Be there to provide comfort after an upsetting moment, provide relief and a sense of familiar safety. Spending time sitting in the shade and sharing a lunch-time snack. Be together, be there for each other, and be a source of comfort.

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