In which I ponder about how much our horses really understand
I know that we sometimes say our horses understand us,
but how much do they really understand?
|The Dragon: a horse who understands|
I was tacking up beside the trailer the other day while talking to Monica. We were catching up on the news, and one of the things I said was that I'd gotten distressing news: Jacqui, the lady who gave Fiddle to me back in 2006, was back in the hospital. Her cancer has recurred.
Monica sympathized, of course, because she is a nice person, although she's never met Jacqui in person and it's certain that they will be friends when they ever do meet.
The effect on Fiddle was much more dramatic. She went from barely awake to fully alert and tight as a banjo string.
Sure, you say. I was distressed about my friend. My horse has become a caretaking horse, and she was reacting to my distress.
I was distressed before I even walked down to the barn. I'd gotten the news while eating my breakfast cereal. Fiddle didn't react until I said out loud that Jacqui was sick.
Fiddle remembers Jacqui. She recognizes her on every visit, as she recognizes most of my friends. I've learned to let her greet new folks if we're going to be riding together--she seems to appreciate a proper introduction.
I've often been told (though I don't entirely believe it) that animals recognize words, short phrases, and body language. Certainly not a complex sentence like "My friend Jacqui is back in hospital because her old nemesis has returned."
Fee was instantly, obviously worried when she heard. She has been dude ranch pony calm for months now, but at the trailhead, she suddenly started acting out. I worked her a bit, just to re-establish that the boundaries hadn't changed, and that reassured her.
Then we took off down the trail, with four horses and five people, so Monica tailed for a while
And then I tailed for a while behind Hana...
And then I rode Hana and Duana tailed for a while
|Monica was riding Fiddle, and she took the picture|
And then we saw mushrooms,
|Duana spots our quarry|
which was the
excuse purpose for the excursion.
I can't believe I didn't take a photo of the horses tied along the road while we all scampered around in the woods looking for chanterelles. Fiddle and Hana, recognizing "mushroom hunting" as a new variation on "trail work" immediately cocked a hip and fell asleep. The other horses followed their example.
The work of hauling different riders up the hills calmed and reassured Fiddle, as work often does for so many of us.
But it got me wondering about how much she really understands when I'm talking. I talk a lot. Babble, really. Couldn't blame her if she wanted to tune me out fairly often.
And then she does something like this.
The comment box is open.