I wasn’t born in a barn. It was the small building south of the barn- our house. As the youngest, there were times that I needed a baby sitter, but there weren’t always hands free for that job on our farm. I gave everyone a good scare as a toddler. My Mother noticed I was missing from the spot she left me, and then caught sight of me floating in the river, laughing and clinging to a branch. Clearly a better solution was required.
Lady was enlisted as my babysitter. Lady was a tall, gray mare that our family owned. I was hoisted up on her back and left in her pen. My parents were free to work, Lady would stroll around, as I ‘rode’ dreaming of galloping green pastures. She was much too tall for me to jump down, and no matter how much I kicked, she would only walk. I loved her with my whole heart.
I should also add that Lady had a reputation for being a rank mare- my angry brother would try to ride her. After a few of times of being rubbed off on the barn door, she actually took a bite of flesh from his shoulder. Eventually, he couldn’t catch her. Maybe she was just a good judge of character, most horses are.
Now that you know that part, you have to wonder why my parents thought Lady would make a good babysitter, but it was common to let kids ride on truck running boards back then, too.
As far as I was concerned there was no question- I was safe because I was so incredibly special, I must be a horse whisperer! I must be so magical -much more so than anyone else- that horses adored me.
And you are right- there was nothing that special about me. Actually Lady wasn’t all that unusual either. No big mystery, most horses do echo their riders. My brother’s aggression was answered as impersonally as my love was answered, as simple as a reflection in a mirror.
Horses are individuals and I don’t recommend the daycare I had for every horse or child. But sometimes to a rider challenged by a horse behavior, it can seem pretty complicated if we over-think it. Those are the times I remember Lady. The Golden Rule still applies with simplicity and justice.
Maybe Reciprocity is the truest name for a horse.
Anna Blake, www.AnnaBlakeTraining.com
(Photo: Spirit, still doing daycare.)