Feed on

This has been one of the most difficult lessons. Down the years I had been taught that the object of interaction with a horse was to demand instant obedience in the manner that I required, and that this was the purpose of all training, an approach which fit the bossy part of my nature like a glove. Not much has changed since then, albeit that demanding and cajoling are now referred to as “asking” but perhaps I am yielding to cynicism.

One of the most testing times of this lesson is when you enter the field which serves as your horse’s home and you hope that now will be the day when your horse comes to you of their own accord without being trained to do so. You may have to fetch your horse after all. Worse still, you may even have to try and catch the creature, because they resist all of your efforts to be nice and appealing.
Why not just expect nothing? After all, you have nothing to lose. So you try this … day after day … and nothing happens … until … one day the magic happens. And the more you learn not to expect anything, the more your horse gives you. Yesterday Pip did not come immediately. She was dozing in her current band of three mares and four geldings. I joined them and we shared a very special, peaceful moment: being there, doing nothing … until … Pip was ready to come with me and Anaïs followed just as Vicki arrived.


It is a Spanish word, it means hope and it is the name of a horse that I was asked to assist with. Esperanza needed to have her broken green halter removed because it had become a danger to her. The only problem was that she did not trust humans and was quick to turn her business end to any she perceived to be a threat. So what was to be done?
Of course, the easiest way to remove the halter would have been to restrain the horse, pin her down and cut it off. The price you pay for such a course of action though is pretty high if your goal is a trusting relationship with the horse. You can kiss such a relationship goodbye. So what is the alternative?
Work on developing that trusting relationship perhaps? How? Simply be and expect nothing! The photos tell the story.
Expect nothing! Then all becomes possible and magic happens!

Expect nothing! Then all becomes possible and magic happens!

The halter did not come off during this session but we gained something far more precious: connection! And without a connection to do anything with a horse you have to rely on compulsion or conditioning. Genuine, spontaneous interaction between two sentient beings is no longer possible. Not long after this session Esperanza actually managed to liberate herself from the halter. You can read about it in my post entitled Esperanza and the Challenge of Being.

2 Responses to “Lessons Taught Me by My Horse, Lesson 3: Expect nothing!”

  1. Vic says:

    Thank you Andrew for your encouraging blog.

    What you describe about Esperanza being aware of Monica’s inner trust for herself besides their mutual trust for each other makes perfect sense.

    You might not believe in God and a spiritual reality, but that doesn’t stop you interacting in that reality.

    There is communication beyond sound and body language. Some people, like you, speak of energy. What is that energy? Where does it come from? What is its source?

    We humans tend to overwhelm our still small spiritual voice with cognitive thinking. We have a mind and we have a brain. Our mind is in our soul, it is who we are, but our brain tends to get in the way.

    Animals are simpler creatures. They are more in touch with their souls. Their brains are smaller so they don’t mess with their minds. When horses stand looking as if nothing is happening, they are communicating with each other. We just don’t tune into soul talk, we are too busy in our heads.

    I only learned this a few years ago. I was taught about how they communicate through soul talk by spending time being with my horse Savannah and my goats. The important thing was that I didn’t “do” anything with them, I practiced “being” with them on their terms.

    When I go to them and close the gate behind me, I enter their world, on their terms. I don’t push myself onto them, they came to me. I don’t pat them as a human, I follow their cues.

    At first I thought of it as energy, but later realized that energy is a genuine complex communication. It is a communication of feelings, emotions, desires. It is not a logical human command type communication, but a sharing of souls. It is most intense close up, but I have sensed it 30 meters away through brick and mortar.

    I believe all of us can and do sense this. We are just unaware of it. The problem with most humans is that we have become insensitive through our way of life and upbringing. And we are too impatient wanting results instead of letting bonds develop in the time it takes.

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Vic

      Essentially, I can feel what you write more than anything else. Whether we call it “energy”, “soul”, “telepathy” or anything else, as far as I can tell, what enables us to connect with other sentient beings is best sensed and experienced through “feeling”.

      Ultimately, no matter how dominant the “gods” of reason and rationality may be in our upbringing, education and society, humans still base many if not most of their decisions in relation to members of their own kind or other species on their feeling in that respect. What we are no longer capable of, as some of our ancestors were, is the ability to access, be guided by and guide the “energy” (my term for what I perceive to be want of a better) involved. It is perhaps time that we rediscover how to do just that.

      Be well!