Lovely feedback from a lovely woman, Susan, who came to visit my horses a couple of weeks ago. We didn't have any fixed plans - she has dogs and cats, but had not been around horses for decades. Turns out she has an interest in animal communication, and decided she would simply like to spend some time with one of my horses, Benson, and see what they made of each other. So, I let Benson and Susan loose in the school, trying to give as little guidance as possible. It was actually really interesting to watch - how as she changed what she was thinking and feeling, Benson moved between being slightly worried by her, to ignoring her, to being calm and interested in her, and on occassion even looking to her for ideas about what they could do together. For me, it is always fascinating to really slow things down and see how a seemingly small change in attitude from a person can make such a huge difference to how a horse percieves them, and whether they are a welcome prescence or not.
To use a human analogy, they looked like two strangers introduced then left alone at a party, awkward at first, then discovering they quite like each others company.
Unfortunately, Benson can't tell us how he felt about it in words, but here's what Susan wrote about it:
'An onlooker would see me standing near a horse, approaching and withdrawing and sometimes walking beside him for short distances. What happened from my point of view was that Benson looked thoughtfully at me, taking me in as a new person, and then gradually accepted my presence and consented to walk beside me across the school a few times with both of us more comfortable each time. I cannot put me experience of this into words but the sense of a relationship, however tentative, of acceptance and openness was unique. It left me fizzing with an inner energy, humbled and grateful. We miss so much in our clumsy dealings with non-human others.'
not Susan in the pic, by the way, this is Louisa!