The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Equal and Opposite

There's a section in Hempfling's book What Horses Reveal which shows various horses getting overly friendly with their owners. These owners are generally rather sweet-looking women, unable to stand up for themselves. The horse might have his nose shoved into the woman's face, while she looks long-suffering and amused in an anxious kind of way. (Sorry I gave away my copy, so I can't give page numbers.)

KFH says something to the effect that these horses need to be given boundaries, and that one shouldn't be made to feel put-upon by one's horse.

Well, yeah, I guess, kind of.

But here's what I realized today. I was hanging out with Bridget, and she shoved her nose into my face, as is her wont. And I experienced two possibilities - one, I could just be rather quiet and try to enjoy having this large mouth (containing large teeth) making free with my physiognomy. Or, two, I could respond with equal enthusiasm and force. (Of course, there's a third choice - to shoo her off, but I did not experience that as a possibility at the time.)

So I grabbed hold of her nose and blew raspberries onto it, and rubbed it hard, and kissed it, and blew at it. And she was very happy with this, and so was I. All potential feelings of put-upon-ness vanished in mutuality. And I find the same when she bumps her butt into me to make me scratch it. I just bump right back.

Not all horses are so benign as Bridget, and I know that there are times to object when a horse comes into your space. But if the horse comes at you with all this warmth and communicativeneness, I don't think the choice has to be between going all nervous-nelly or making them get away.

Here comes Bridget,

and here comes her leg to play the leg game.


  1. I always like your descriptions of your give and take with Bridget. I know those images in Hempfling's book. But I suppose your facial expression, in your play with Bridget, would not be ambivalent. I think in those photos those people looked as if they thought they should let the horse in close as this was demonstrating affection, but they really felt uncomfortable with the horse being that close. That's how I read it anyway.

  2. I think I would have had that ambivalent expression if I'd just stayed a passive recipient of Bridget's attentions. Responding with equal force to her made me feel confident and engaged.

  3. Yeah it's all about the feeling you get and trusting your insticts on how to act, not overthinking it. Olga isn't always very soft and now that I read your story, I think I just realized that she is trying to get me out of my smoochy mood for something more active when she does that :D