Someone asked me to describe my experiences with wild horses, and how they differ from domestic horses. It feels like a suitable time to write this. I have just returned from a trip to the red heart of Australia. During the drive from Kings Canyon to Uluru, we came upon a small group of brumbies. It was my birthday and I’d said I would love to see brumbies just that morning. My companion was a fellow horse woman with whom I have been doing horse workshops. We are both very much on the same page in how we are with horses.
We stopped the car and slowly walked toward the brumbies. We approached the nearest, watching for signs about how close we could come. When we hit his personal body space he reacted, we dropped to the ground and were still and silent. Both of us have developed the ability to contain our energy when around horses. We relaxed our breathing and heart rates and stilled our minds. And there we remained, time stood still, I have no idea for how long, it could have been 30 minutes, or it could have been an hour. One step at a time he approached, we kept our gazes lowered and remained relaxed and still. As he got closer it was important to not allow ourselves to get excited, to still our thinking, and not to feel anything except awe and admiration for this stunning being. He came all the way toward us, then slowly and tentatively reached out and touched me with his muzzle. He repeated this with both of us, touching us briefly then absorbing the information he had received by smell and feel. When he was satisfied that we posed no threat, he stood directly over us and relaxed into resting posture. The three of us stayed like this for an indeterminate time. Then he reached forward with his front hoof, just missing my leg. We took this as a message that it was time to leave, he was telling us our time with him was over, that it was enough.
This experience has solidified for me the lessons I learnt from the Guy Fawkes brumby who’s been living in my herd for 10 years. When he first arrived at my property, I did things with him the same way I would with other horses and got a very different response. My entire lifetime of working with, studying, and training horses didn’t seem to work anymore. At first, I thought he was just a difficult horse, a bit of a challenge to train and work with. But then I realised it was a different situation to anything I had experienced before and that I would have to throw out everything I knew and start again. He was rocking my boat big time. After 20 years working as an equine professional, completing a degree in equine science and other qualifications, I realised I knew absolutely nothing. He was pure horse. Absolutely pure in body and spirit, not conditioned by humans as a foal or young horse. He was a 5-year-old stallion when captured, and all his development had taken place in the wild. He was quite literally an adult wild animal, and he was in my paddock. This was when I learnt just what it is we do to horses when we domesticate them. The changes are fundamental in how the horse thinks and reacts to the world. His world view was so different to anything I had experienced. So, I went to his school and opened myself up to all he had to teach. The experience I had with the wild brumby in his natural habitat, was a huge affirmation that I have learnt my lessons.
The beautiful thing is, now I have an understanding of pure horse, I find it still there, deep down inside every domestic horse. By being with domestic horses in the same way I am with wild horses opens a level of communication and connection between us beyond training and conditioning. What I am talking about is not a set of tricks, a system to follow, or any training tools, this is about working on yourself as a compassionate, gentle, and open-hearted human, someone who a wild animal can feel safe with.
Suzy Maloney B.Eq.Sc.
Happy Horses Bitless
Ph: 0401 249 263
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