It takes a horse and a human village

1233By Susan Smith
The phrase, “it takes a village,” refers to the raising of a child and the “village” involved in raising him or her.

Recently, I was chatting with a friend about her growing bond with her new horse. We talked about how the horse related to others. I said that I felt that everyone the horse came into contact with – those who are positive influences, of course – deepens their connection and makes the horse “better.” It’s not just the connection with one special person, although that is very important. But contact with others even enhances the connection with the special person. My friend was a bit surprised by that.

I thought then that I should write about it. During Liberty Foundations clinics we see this happening continually: a horse comes in who does not know the work (they all know it from each other) from humans, may or may not connect up with people very well. By the time the horse has worked with a few people, she has changed, is softer, responsive, confident. The too-confident horse who does not have very good boundaries will grow boundaries, learn respect, soften.

When my own horses have worked in clinics, it benefits them greatly. They become all those things I mentioned above. They love working in clinics, meeting all the people, getting to work with people’s different energy and having the chance to teach.

Recently, my horses have been teaching private lessons in liberty. Each horse has something completely different to offer. The lessons are tailored to each

123After the first liberty lesson, my mares became softer with each other. Zuzka, who is usually aloof with people, came directly over to her new friend Tommie to visit with her. Tommie said, “something palpable shifted between us.” That was so nice!

The second lesson was with Janice. The three horses were involved, each individually. Zuzka made her needs known, that she wanted to engage in a relationship, not be herded around. Once that was established, she relaxed and so did Janice.

Jazzmine tries to control where the person is, so it’s important to establish a leadership role with her pretty quickly. It takes some working out though and adjusting of energy to get that right. Once the student has that right, Jazzie relaxes and will connect very strongly.

Patches was the surprising one. He wanted to stand with the student, walk a little, but he would get kind of stuck. I got him unstuck and then he came along nicely. He formed a triangle with the other two horses, nose to tail, in which they all rested comfortably, as though in a meditation. I had never seen them do this before.

Afterwards, Patches went to my friend Leta and asked her to rub his head which was itchy from flies. He was all love with her, very present, very in touch with her, which she had not experienced with him before.

1223A couple of days later, Jazzie approached my friend Susie and wanted to rest her head on her shoulder and just love on her in a way that she has only done with me.

I was delighted by these changes in my herd. I could get jealous that they are interacting so intimately with people other than myself, but I’ve gotten over that, because what I see is that they need more than me. They need a village. The more people my horses can interact with in a trusting manner, the more engaged and present they become, the more they become better citizens, and the better their chances are of being treated fairly in the world. They know how to seek out like-minded humans, who understand horses. This may be all happening on a universal consciousness level too, but we see tangible results of it in daily life.

The two videos below demonstrate how horses in a clinic setting can change and expand their worlds, in the course of a day or a weekend.

Visit Susan and Ruella’s blog to see videos from the clinics.
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