My haflinger Ellie has many friends at the barn who greet us with, “Hi Ellie!” (big smile and pat for Ellie). Then they realize I’m looking at them waiting, waiting. Hello? Oh. “Hi, Ellie’s owner!” Yeah, Hi.
I know how it is.
Horse first, then person. In fact, I wouldn’t recognize many of the people at the barn without their horse.
If I see them at a store in town, I look at them vaguely, thinking, “I know you from somewhere, but something’s wrong…” Could it be that they don’t have a helmet on? Or a horse attached? Yes, that could be why they are hard to recognize.
When I travel, I’m always looking for horses, too. Been that way from childhood. “Horsie, horsie!” spied grazing in a field from a train window. When I see horses out the window, my mind automatically starts to analyze their probable breed, age, condition, quality, type of fencing, and so on. Just can’t help myself.
On a recent trip to Belgium, we saw some really nice moving horses pulling tourist carriages in Bruges. How many times did my husband have to hear my comments on their conformation and gaits? And then hear me go on about how they worked them too many hours and I was worried about some of them who looked really tired by the end of the day, all that trotting on hard pavement, what was it doing to their joints, they couldn’t last long under such conditions, poor things, and so on.
I notice horses because I am bonded to horses. I look in their eyes as I pass and I feel for them.
Are they tired? Do they like their job? Do they seem well treated? I hope they are. For the record the carriage horses of Bruges were well fed and well cared for, in spite of the long hours and hard pavement. I comforted myself with the thought that at least they had a job and maybe they got to go live in a lovely grassy field some of the time. Who knows?
Interestingly, horses tune into us, too.
There are studies that indicate they are very aware of our emotional state and that some horses may lower their own heart rate in response to our anxiety. http://www.thehorse.com/articles/29455/study-horses-more-relaxed-around-nervous-humans In other words, they try to calm us down and exude peace. I’ve received that gift from my horses at times, and I’m grateful.