Sunday, July 20, 2008

Love Is The Answer

At the beginning of Monty's The Man Who Listens To Horses there is a dedication that reads:

"I could think of no other choice than to dedicate this book to EQUUS: THE FLIGHT ANIMAL. It is my opinion that we owe this species an apology for causing it to endure our lack of understanding for thousands of years. Equus has been my teacher, my friend and my provider."

When I first read this a year ago, it struck me as the most poignant statement about horses ever made and it was something that has bounced around my mind many times over, especially when coming across those sort of people who mistake fearful submission for successfull partnership. Seeing Mark Rashid at Kingswood Equestrian Centre today reminded me of the above statement by Monty. Rashid is internationally known as one of the greatest living horse trainers. He is well known for solving apparently difficult problems via good communication, rather than force.

He gave plenty such examples today, when he demonstrated to owners with seemingly difficult horses that clear communication is a sure way to engaging one's horse while speaking its own language. I am not experiencing any of the problems highlighted today, but this is down to having a really well-trained horse rather than to my own prowess as a horsewoman. I cannot imagine what would have happened to me, had I found myself in the situation of some of the riders I saw today. I am lucky enough to be supported by capable (and friendly) people where I keep Merv and Merv himself is... well... a great guy to learn on.

A few weeks back he went for a scan on his poorly leg. I did not post about it because the day before I had succeeded in upsetting myself so much just by thinking about it that I was driving with eyes veiled with tears, worried as I was that the vet may say his quality of life would deteriorate and... well... you can imagine the rest. In actual fact, I was being my paranoid self; the vet said that, while he did manage to injure himself properly this time, he has a 50% chance of recovery. Still, we have to wait until late October and see. Currently, he is happily grazing in the field with his new girlfriend nearby and only the other day he run up to me as he saw me passing with a feed bucket.

The more I think about it, which I try not to do, and the more I am absolutely adamant that I want to keep Merv, no matter his ability to be ridden. If I cannot ride him anymore, I will just become... an internationally known clicker-trainer, my horse doing tail-stands as I click, click, click away and wave a little flag around. To think that one does not get attached to a field animal, just because he doesn't sleep on the sofa like a cat, is a great fallacy. There is just no way that because we have only been together a year I could easily get rid of him (by which I mean to a companion home, as has been suggested by my best horsey friend) and be able to live with it.

I cannot imagine to walk up to the fields and not find him there, at least not until his time comes to hoof it up to the big paddock in the sky. I cannot know what motivates Mark Rashid, Kelly Marks, Monty Roberts or all the other fine horse trainers that we read about and go and see. I also do not know what motivates all other horse people that fill up the horsey world. It is only for myself that I can speak with certitude. In such a short span of time Merv has been a teacher and a friend and I can tell you that as far as this supposed horsewoman is concerned, only love is the answer.

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