Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course Of Course, and a Dog is Still a Dog

Here's a little something that has been on my mind of late.
Why do we (people AKA "two-leggers") sometimes fail to recognize that a horse is a horse and a dog is a dog, and never shall they be parted?
Right here, me, just as guilty as the rest of coddling my animals, (horse and dog.)
But that's not what I'm talking about.
I don't think that baby talk and snuggles with your animals is an attempt to change who they are. But much of what we people do to our pets is at least a failed recognition of who they are. And, how would "we" feel if someone, let's say... our very best friend in the world... consistently failed to recognize who we really are? **Of course animal "feelings" are a discussion best left for another time, (and maybe I'll go there... some of you have already done some outstanding posts that I probably couldn't compete with, on the subject... but maybe I'll go there yet.)** But here's what I'm saying about who we "are" versus what someone might want us to be.

You are a successful airline pilot. You love your job.
You go to a party with your mother (who's always wanted something different for you than to be a pilot,) and your mother introduces you as her, "successful daughter... the lawyer."


Yes, your mother loves you dearly and knows you well. She has cared for you impeccably your whole life and has your best interest at heart. You would never question her love for you BUT... she doesn't know you... doesn't know who you truly are.

I would like to draw this analogy back to our animal friends.
I think some people, good intentioned as they are... don't truly know the animals they love.
Isn't this what Cesar Milan and Monty Roberts have been telling us for years?

Our horses are herd animals, who as such, find security in a group. God made them to run when they are afraid. To congregate as a group for protection. There is an order with horses that sometimes people try to interfere with. No judgments here, because sometimes what we do to our horses is necessary... especially when they are hurt or ill... but often it is for our own human reasons that we subject them to certain things. Why do we isolate horses, tuck them away in stalls, away from the group on a regular basis? Why do we tell ourselves human dramas and tragedies while making the horse the protagonist of our tale? The struggle in a herd for dominance is a necessary part of being a horse. Allowing a horse to go through it, is vital to who that individual is. Giving a horse room to run when afraid is accepting what the horse is. Attributing human characteristics of jealousy, rage, or deceitfulness does no justice to who the magnificent creature truly be.

Same is true of our dogs. Dogs enjoy the security of a pack. Like horses they must run. And where a horse must forage for survival, a dog must follow his predatory instincts and hunt. Granted we don't necessarily need or want our dogs to hunt in the traditional sense... that's why we have dog food right? :) But, in order to acknowledge who a dog "is" we must indulge that desire in him some way. The dog must be given regular, frequent exercise in order to engage that primal part of him. Of who he is. When dogs pee on our floors and chew up our shoes there is only one reason. They need to run. Of course like horses, we can hide them away in cages and there are times when that is necessary. But when a person keeps a dog locked away in a cage for extended hours, without adequate opportunity to work... they are denying who the dog is.

I sometimes feel so frustrated by the incredible numbers of horses and dogs in shelters!
Of course we can implement selective breeding as a means to avoid the abandonment of animals, but that is only a small piece of the puzzle in my mind. The greatest thing we could do is to realize what animals need for survival. Our horses and dogs need more than food, water and shelter. They need for us to acknowledge who they are, and for us to commit to letting them be who they are, for the rest of their lives.


  1. Well said. Ours dogs are quite "doggy"--they dig for voles and eat them up. Today while we were in the hottub--one of them was tossing a dead vole around for play. That's who they are. They also like to eat horse poo. ;) And I agree, horses love their own herds and finding their place in the herd. It is hard to watch sometimes because they can get hurt in the process of new introductions, but in the end, they do best together like that . I had to stall out of necessity once, but we got them onto pasture as soon as we could.

  2. So glad to have a kindred soul in you Linda. I've had to stall/kennel mine too... I just find it odd when people do it routinely, out of habit, and for seemingly no good reason. Let them critters be! ;)

  3. Good Post,
    I HATE boarding my mare..but in the past 5 years, I have been paying attention to her and listening.
    She will never be in an overnight stall again, unless it's a run in or one that has the door OPEN at all times to the field or run. The run she has now...she routinely walks briskly out to the end(150 ft) and canters back. I love to watch her..she LOVES TO MOVE!
    The closest we get to overnight 12X12 stalling now- is horse camping!

    It is sad, the Anthropomorphizing of our animals. They really don't like it the way we do and rely upon nature for comforts instead of the ones we provide, most times~

    There are huge stables around my area that are "Show Stables". I've been to them and though they have 100 acres..it's not fenced for the horses to be horses. "They may hurt themselves"... and therefore render the owner incapable of reaching for their "showy" goals. POOEY!
    Sometimes, I have to hold my breath for the mishaps I watch with mine in the field...but, that's the risk of boarding in smaller areas. I do miss my huge fields I had before..but she coudl really get to running and that also could be hazordous..oh well. She is one happy Thoroughbred, when she can run!

  4. ditto, ditto, ditto... and of course we all have stalled our horses, and sometimes it's necessary BUT I just hope that we will all think about what we're doing and why. (Self included!)

  5. Thanks for the reminders :) Our pets love so unconditionally and are always there for us. We should do the best we can to take care of them suited to their individual needs.

  6. Beautiful post! I try to do my best for my guys and gals - Val is turned out 24-7 and has a neighbor, my girls get walked twice a day.

    Love the photos in the sidebar btw :)

  7. Just found your blog and am enjoying my visit, thank you! This post is wonderful. I *might* be considered to run a "show stable" but I couldn't agree with you more on all points. Our horses all live out in large fields with sheds unless they need special care for a short time. I like mixed herds now too after trying both ways... Horses and dogs need their own communities just like we do! Now weather my mother understands me is for a whole 'nother post! ;-P


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