Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Teaching Human

I am teaching our baby pony, Zephyr to understand human language. This is a second chance for me to do it right. He is a gift to me. The loss of Tim, my constant, was not as devastating as it could have been because Zephyr stepped in and took his place. I think this was Tim's plan, to find a replacement for himself to care for me. Zephyr is young and new and beautiful. He is unbroken by a life of slavery, illness or despair. He is so smart that I need only to show him once and he remembers. He is only a year old but he focuses on me and wants to please me.
I do not set him up for failure by asking horse his attention at feeding time or if he wants to spend time with the other horses. I do not need to own his soul. We will befriends,he will love me because I will not treat him like a posession. I will make all our interactions fun and peasant. He is not “halter broke” yet but when I say “come walk with me”, he does. I do bribe him though. There needs to be a common ground between us as we learn to communicate, as I teach him English words. When he does as I ask, I hand him a teeny carrot. I don't make him guess what I want so much as I show him. By positioning my body in a spot where I would lead him if he wore a halter I wave a carrot a few steps ahead of him, when he takes a step, I give it to him. He has learned to walk with me. I talk senences to him, not sharp single word commands. Just as the horses speak to each other in equine, I speak to him in human. I know once the language barrier is breached, they understand every word we say to them. I have lived in the company of horses, every single day, for over 50 years. I do not communicate with humans so well, but horses and I “get” each other. Where I have failed in almost all other facets onlife, I have succeeded in living with horses. I can holler paragraphs at Gabriel when he acts like a dope. He knows exactly what I'm saying and I him. If he's cold, he “tells” me. I say “do you want your blanket?” He picks it up and throws is to me. “Yeah”, he says, “I'm freezing!” tossing his head and nickering until I step to and put it on him. I've lived with him for 14 years. We know each other!
My baby Zephyr J. Doodle Bug is a clean slate, an equine sponge. He is the gentlest stud colt I have ever had. The only bad thing he does is toss a playful kick in my direction when he's running around. That is pretty bad, but they all do that. I always watch for it and try to nip this behavior in the bud, but he is a baby and horses tend to be less reactive as they age. He has only done it a few times and always stops and says”Oh! So very sorry mum!” he comes back to me with those huge, all the lights are on eyes and becomes soft and loving. He is not a space invader but will put his head on my shoulder, he Never bites. We stand on equal ground, he and I. I've never had that before. It is new and exciting to find such a kindred spirit in a horse.
Viking was violent and vicious as a stallion, even as a yearling. All he wanted was what he wanted. He was willing to maim us humans with teeth or hooves any way he could. It took two of us to clean his stall. One would keep him occupied while the other power cleaned his stall. Gelding him as soon as possible was a necessity. After that he became a noodle. He loves people, would live in our pocket if there was a way. He is still not very gentle at time, but as I walked with him one day, he stayed at my side with ho halter, only my arm around his neck in a companionably way, as gentle as he has ever been. I suddenly realized that he now understands the language of humans too! By my handling him every day just walking him in and out of his stall, by his own observation, he has learned.
These beings teach me something new every single day. They are brilliant, few people today get the opportunity to really know their horses. Most board them, not keep them in their own back yard. These horses do not become family members where they are watched and cared for by their owners every single day. This is very sad as these beings add so much to our lives if given the chance. They are capable of offering us incredible loyalty and friendship when treated like more then possessions.
And so it was okay after all for my Timothy Daniel James to leave me when he did. It was time. Never again will he suffer in the hot summers, or live with terribly painful feet. His life was well lived, and before he left me, along came Zephyr J. Doodle Bug. For a long time after I kept expecting to see his beautiful face over his stall door, to hear him nicker to me throughout the day,but now I realize that I have let him go. I think he wouldn't mind.
And so, a new chapter begins. Zephyr is here!