Feed on

Ultimately, the type of relationship which has worked best with Pip is that of friendship. Being a friend to her is a lesson that, once learned, she has reciprocated. But what does being a friend mean? At the end of the day, it boils down to a simple four-letter word, one which I had difficulty acknowledging in my relationship with Pip until I met Michael Bevilacqua. It is this: love.

The love of a friend is that which empathises and empowers rather than claims and denies. I take delight in all that enables her to enjoy her life as a horse. There are times when we stand apart and there are times when either or both of us seek contact with each other. Ultimately, there is no need to insist on boundaries.

(Taken from “Lessons Taught Me by My Horse” in the book, When Horses Speak and Humans Listen. For more information see http://www.horsesandhumans.com/mainsite/whsahl.htm.)


Being a friend to Pip is about loving her without expecting anything in return!

Being a friend to Pip is about loving her without expecting anything in return!


An ideal concept of leadership

If you were to ask a fairly enlightened human to provide you with the definition of a “leader”, you may be presented with something of this nature: a leader is someone who is capable of exhibiting empathy, who is trustworthy and empowering, who sets an example, who is charismatic, and who inspires, motivates, encourages, and ultimately liberates. Let us assume for a moment that you actually manage to become someone who fits this description. Would this make you a leader? And if it does, would you not have followers? After all, you can only be a leader by definition if someone follows you, surely?

But what if no one knows that you are this kind of person? What if no one has heard about you, that you are capable of being all of these things? You would not have any followers, would you? Which means you would not be a leader by definition even if you do have all of these qualities, surely? And is this not in turn another way of saying that, even if you possess all of these qualities, which would make you probably the most enlightened “leader” the world has ever seen, would you not ultimately depend on someone first learning about you and then, based on that knowledge, choosing to follow you before you can become such a leader?

So, if having these qualities would not necessarily make you a leader, what would they make you? A friend perhaps? And your horse, would they choose to follow you if they experienced all of these qualities in you?


Reasons to follow

The chances are that your horse would not choose to follow you, even if you possessed all of the qualities that would make you the most enlightened leader the world has ever seen. Why not? To answer this question we need to examine why horses choose to follow others of their own species.

Essentially, there are two main reasons why one horse will choose to follow another. One of these is friendship but not as an enlightened human might care to define it. Truly, it is far more basic. It is feeling. It is bonding through the gut. Unfortunately, our awareness of friendship amongst horses is largely based on our observations of domestic rather than wild or feral horses. As Lucy Rees has noted, ethological studies have largely focused on agonistic (conflict-related) behaviour amongst wild horses rather than affiliative (companionship-related) conduct (see Epona.TV: https://epona.tv/bonding-behaviour-largely-ignored-by-scientists – consulted 20 July 2017). There are some things which science cannot explain and friendship is one of them. Essentially, as I experience it with horses and my best friend and partner, friendship is an energetical and emotional confluence of two life forces, which can become more important to the creatures involved than even food. Indeed, they will even risk safety and security to be with each other. So too with horses.

(Taken from “Horses and the Art of Followership” in the book, When Horses Speak and Humans Listen. For more information see http://www.horsesandhumans.com/mainsite/whsahl.htm.)


A man and his horse. Friends forever!

A man and his horse. Friends forever!




2 Responses to “Lessons Taught Me by My Horse: Lesson 6. Be a friend to your horse! (Not a “leader”!)”

  1. Vic says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Almost spot on. I believe the communication you describe as, “It is bonding through the gut” is bonding of souls.

    It is wonderful to follow your journey of bonding with Pip.

    What I see now in the later years of my life is the quiet soul talk in horses and other herd animals like goats. Dogs and cats have it too, but with different “energy levels” or “energy frequencies” than horses and goats.

    We are capable of tuning in when we quieten the cacophony in our brains, and listen to the still voice in our soul/spirit. It’s only in the last few years that I have been quiet enough to be aware of this communication. That, I believe, is the source of joy we feel when we bond, with our partners and animals.

    My experience is that the leader is not the dominant bossy one, but the emotionally stable and reliable one. The one that can be trusted. We humans do the same. There is a different dynamic in an organization led by a “boss,” where fear and pressure get people to work, and organizations led by a “leader,” whom people want to follow. The leader is the more efficient way.

    Getting true contact does not come through dominance, but by friendship through love as you say. This is only developed by spending time bonding with our horse (or goats).