A Letter to the Kind-hearted

 

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This is a letter from the work horse, the lesson horse, the horses who are asked to bottle themselves up, be contained and always do as they are told without objection. From all those horses trained to accept whatever we throw at them. Who tolerate things no prey animal in their right mind would tolerate! It’s a letter from all those horses who’ve been asked to ignore their instincts and be obedient for their entire lives.

A letter to all the kind-hearted people who have rescued one of these horses and want to give them something different. Love, kindness and the kind of care they have never known.

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They want you to know that it isn’t easy to receive your love. Their body, mind and nervous system has long adapted to this life of obedience. They don’t know anything else. They’ve done what they needed to do to survive and that includes shutting themselves down so they don’t have to feel so much. It takes time for the numbness to wear off, to feel safe sharing how they feel.

Be patient. When you’ve been punished for expressing your opinion it doesn’t feel safe to communicate. Be consistent and kind. They will come out of their shells and when they do they are brilliant, subtle and very talkative. You’ll have to listen closely, they are quiet, considerate and don’t want to upset anyone. They have learned to go slow and be careful of humans, to contain themselves so humans feel safe. If you get upset with them or impatient they often feel the best course of action is to go slower so you feel safer.

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These quiet work horses are not dull. They are not lazy or stupid. They just lost heart. It’s scary to be asked to feel again. Scary to open their heart. Scary to allow their body to move with joyful self expression. To give you their back and really carry you with forward enthusiasm they have to open their carefully guarded hearts. Hold those hearts tenderly and they will blossom.

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15 thoughts on “A Letter to the Kind-hearted

  1. Gee. What a beautiful post. As you know I don’t know much about horses. But your post could have been written about a couple of people I know. They desperately want to be loved. But because if their history of abuse they closed themselves off – just like these horses. it is impossible for them to receive love they hunger for. How very sad. Thanks so much.

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  2. This is a huge generalization and misrepresentation of lesson horses, and horse training in general. The training of animals and humans is part of life learning how to interact with others safely, educate ourselves and others to respond with self control rather than instinctive reactions (in humans as well as animals), like biting, kicking, hitting, or stepping on or knocking over others.
    Many people retire their older horses and they quickly stiffen up and deteriorate much faster, than horses who stay active in appropriate roles as lesson horses. They receive a hugh amount of attention and love, and are not shut down in their hearts. They are extraordinary teachers themselves, and often live longer, healthier lives; including having a deep understanding of their usefulness and purpose, giving and receiving love and healing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective. I would argue that my post was not a generalization about anything, rather a very specific message related to those horses who DO shut down during the training process. Not all do. To say all horses who are lesson horses thrive would be a generalization or that all horses who are lesson horses are shut down. In fact, they are each unique and respond to training and their work accordingly. Some thrive, some don’t. This was intended to foster understanding for those who don’t, not to denigrate all lesson horse programs or all horse training programs. I do suspect we have differing views on how to train horses and that’s okay.

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  3. Thank you Andrea for this post. As I read it I reflected not only on some of the horses I have encountered but also some of the children. I have been working in the field of Equine Facilitated Wellness for twenty years and see many children who have shut themselves down in order to survive, those for whom feeling and expressing emotions has been unsafe. Starting to open their heart again is scary and requires much patience, time and support. Often a horse is the one who they are first able to receive this invitation and support from. This is not the experience of all children or of all horses, as your posts reflect, but it certainly is for some. I will be sharing your post with some of my clients.
    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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