it’s my belief that when we say our horses only want to be with us because we provide food, we are doing a disservice to the horse. by saying this we are basically saying horses are not smart enough to make a choice. they just follow their tummies.
i’m not saying that food doesn’t play a part in making a lasting partnership with the horse. because it does. the use of food works great when taming a horse, when motivating certain horses and as a thank you for a job well done. actually using food as a thank you or a motivator works much the same with horses as it does with people.
however i do not believe that billy chooses to be with me simply because i feed him and offer him cookies once in a while. i think it goes much deeper than that.
i believe he makes a cognitive choice to be with me, participate in the games i set up and allow me to ride him.
does this start with how i make him feel when he is around me? of course. and sometimes food plays a part in that. with billy though, i believe it’s more about feeling relaxed, peaceful, and quiet when he is with me.
sometimes he makes the choice to leave me as well. i honor his choice on those days and will just go be with him in the field while he grazes, or sit with him in the dry lot while he rests, not asking anything of him, just being with him. sometimes i read a book or take a nap in the sun shine, sometimes i just sit.
there are days that he chooses to play with me and then i become too direct line, predator like, in my thinking and he changes his mind. it’s extremely important when that happens, i stop what i am doing and re-evaluate myself at that time. if i can not let my frustration go, then i must let billy go and try again another day. this is what will keep him choosing me over his pasture. when i started to really zero in on his emotions during our sessions our relationship soared to a whole new level.
i believe that billy wants to be with me because i offer him the feelings of connection, peace, relaxation, partnership, i honor his ideas and teach him new ones. yes. i give him cookies too. but i also scratch the itches he can’t reach, i give him massages and body work when he is stiff or sore, i put essential oils on to help him feel balanced and soothed. yes. i do feed him.
but ultimately i offer him so much more than food.
i know he understands that and responds to it.