“Wake up”

A sunny morning, chores done, ponies grazing; I join them and lie down on the dry ground under a hazel tree. It is peaceful. A hazel nut detaches itself and falls down beside me. I rest. Rosie comes near to graze, Ben stays away. I am mildly surprised that they do not stop grazing and doze as well as they usually do at this time of the morning.

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Time for me to go; I get up, go up to each in turn and greet them: Ben moves towards me to acknowledge this. Greeting over, he instantly falls into stillness, one leg resting, head low. Rosie joins in.

I watch them and then have to leave them both, dozing in the sun on this beautiful autumn morning.

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That was yesterday, and this small event stayed with me throughout the rest of the busier part of my day. Ben prefers me alert, that is certain. When I am standing, and awake (which means mentally), he relaxes.

I have been thinking about leadership, as it relates to horses. It is a much used and, I am sure, mis-used word. Margrit Coates has a section on it in her book Connecting with Horses that I found helpful. “When a leader exudes an energy with a rich content of authenticity that feels safe to gravitate towards, amazing things can happen, both with people and horses.” (p 62) Another quote is: “Only when calmness prevails and we are in harmony will a horse say from the heart, ‘I want to be with you and follow your lead’.” (p 63) She stresses that following as opposed to leading is more important when thinking about horse behaviour and points out that horses lead us in spiritual terms towards discovering and learning. I have mentioned before that Ben will follow me when I am authentic.

I have only Ben’s behaviour to follow as I try to figure out where he is leading me: he seems to want me as a leader, and a leader in the sense that Margrit Coates describes.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to ““Wake up”

  1. June McIntosh

    It’s all so interesting, isn’t it? George seems to want to follow me in terms of a sort of an overall plan for everyone, but in on-the-ground physical terms, he always stations himself as if he were my mother.

  2. I’ve noticed that with all the horses except our pony, if I’m with them individually (halter and lead line) and something “scary” presents itself, they stand shoulder to shoulder with me, as if we are equals.

    The pony tucks himself just slightly behind me, but close in, like he feels I will protect him. (which is truly interesting, b/c he’s by far the bossiest, pushes-the-boundaries-the-most equine we live with.

    However, if they are all out as a herd and I’m with them, the three geldings will stride out about 6 strides ahead of where I am and form a line, facing the “danger.”

    If it’s the entire herd out without me, Cody and the pony go out in front, facing the “danger” while Salina and Keil Bay stand shoulder to shoulder further back.

    My understanding is that the leaders are generally behind the front line in a wild herd, so I find all of the above intriguing. If the big horses weren’t on a lead line with me, individually, I think each of them would step forward.

    Does the pony step back because he’s scared or because he thinks he’s the leader?

    I have a photo of our herd the day Rafer Johnson (the miniature donkey) arrived on our farm. They went into military formation, with Cody and the pony out front, and Keil and Salina (the two leaders) behind, all perfectly aligned. I often look at it and marvel at how organized they are when they feel they must operate as a herd facing something scary.

  3. Billie, I think they are fortunate in having a herd. I have often thought how much nicer it would be for Ben in particular if I he were in a herd. It provides much more protection for them.