If you haven't yet met Little Love, the protagonist at Song of the Black Horse, you should cyber-scurry on over there and get acquainted. Hers is a fascinating and instructive saga in many ways, but right now I'm intrigued by the fact that this mare has begun to express an interest in educating humans. She seems keen to extend her circle of influence beyond her owner and immediate friends, even perhaps beyond the world of horsey people.
Lately, I've begun to feel that George also has a vocation to teach. Strange, perhaps, that one who came into my life as an irascible and possibly dangerous character, someone who apparently needed to be taught rather than teach, was all along a sort of frustrated guru - although in all likelihood he himself was not initially aware of this.
Why do I feel this? I'm processing.
First of all, I'm remembering when my son-in-law - a horse neophyte - rode George recently. George very clearly picked my son-in-law to be the person who would ride him. He looked extremely happy while he was tied up to the fence being groomed and readied for the ride, not his habitual attitude at such a time. My son-in-law was totally on board with the idea of always asking permission, and I believe George felt part of the process of educating him. My son-in-law later astutely remarked that George's initial engagement with him had given way to a more distant attitude as my son-in-law's confidence grew. This was not a negative thing, but perhaps next time I should aim to keep it 100% positive by consciously keeping George in the role of instructor, rather than one of the props.
When the vet came to (try to) give shots, George and I (after a false start) worked with the vet on "respecting the horse's no." I believe George was extremely happy about this, and very pleased with our results.
For the next few days, George was unusually affable, and one day - as a thank you? - out of his increased confidence? - he taught me something extremely useful for myself. He showed me the habitual tension in my feet, and this knowledge has been of enormous benefit to me. Here is his face as he's telling me about my feet:
I began to wonder if he had a desire to be a healer/teacher, and one day I asked him outright if he wanted me to bring him a young boy I know of who needs help. He gave me his foreleg, which he has never done before or since. I now have a plan to get the kid over here. His mother and I have decided that we're going to rope the kids into a chore like picking up manure from the horse field or spreading crushed stone. I'll appreciate the help anyway, and while they're in the field with the horses, George (or any of the others) will be free to come over. I'll have a word with the horses first. Also, I think I'll have the boy's mother come over by herself first to meet George and discuss with him. He might want to help her too.
And now is when some people (myself a few years ago included) are saying, "Ok, crazy lady, you've gone too far now."
Going back over a year, when my niece rode George, I told her about "ask, don't tell." At first she was confused as to how you could ever get anywhere, but then she and George began to work it out. Looking back, I think George rather enjoyed that day too.
This summer, while we were sitting on the lawn, George came over to visit with my brother-in-law. Here's the photo I posted then:
You can see the sweetness in George, and the discomfort in the human. At the time I just thought George wanted to be part of the company, but maybe there was more to it than that. Perhaps I should have asked the human to identify his discomfort and engage in the dialog that George was trying to start? Or maybe that would have been totally annoying and inappropriate?!?!
I think George really is not interested in me teaching him the usual stuff - I mean, how boring, right? Backing up, and turning, going forward, stopping, blahblahblah. There may come a time when he becomes interested in how it makes him feel. But for now I think he wishes I would kindly provide him with more important work.