Horses can be something special
We riders come into this equestrian world for a variety of reasons. Some folks want to compete, some want to care, some want to train. However some of us find something special namely a relationship with a creature of another species.
If you become a disciple of natural horsemanship then you are taught or rather shown that a successful partnership with a powerful four legged animal weighing half a ton or more involves more than a loud voice, a whip and some tie downs. Sooner or later you are going to depend upon that same animal to carry you safely over open ground. When that moment arises it comes home sharply to the rider that he or she rely heavily on the horse held between the thighs. At moments of supreme stress there needs to be a feeling of trust and understanding passing back and forward between human and equine.
Forming that relationship takes time and experience. It doesn't come overnight. Inevitably the successful partnership is a two way experience.
Make no mistake, although the horse cannot speak, it has its own subtle ways of making its feelings heard by its owner/rider. Equally the horse can judge from a series of subtle reactions by the rider if the emotion is mutual.
Read all the books on horse riding and management you can find but the most important aids in human/equine interaction are the hands and the voice. However once a dialogue between horse and rider has been established then slowly but surely horse and rider start to behave as a couple. No longer is it 'you and me' rather is it 'we'.
Of course some riders never achieve such a relationship with a horse. They follow a rule book and reject the concept that a horse is an intelligent animal.
They see the animal as a tool to be used and exploited. Whereas those of us who believe in the creed of Natural Horsemanship know only too well that most horses are extremely intelligent and are all seeing. But the price for such a close relationship is that when these horses pass on, the loss can be unbearable. And since, very often. the owner has had to give consent for the animal to be euthanased, it feels as though one is actually killing the animal. Although when you have to look a distressed horse in the eye, you'll know what has to be done for your friend. But the pain, the distress, the emotion and the loss of love can be unbearable. Make no mistake even a hard bitten grown man will cry for months at the mere mention of the deceased horse.
But maybe that's what life is all about. We humans all have to face our maker one day. Perhaps the loss of a loved one, be he/she a horse or human, is part of the preparation for our own inevitable last day. It is important in this world to love and be loved - and believe me, the lick on the hand from a horse is an act of love -that's if you are lucky enough to receive it and more importantly that you recognise the gesture by the animal for what it is.
There is only one consolation in such sad matters; the horse will never actually leave us, as it will dwell in a corner of our minds until the very end.