Archive for August, 2015

Interspecies Harmony


As many of you know, I have a horse named Tom. While searching for a horse, I met some that on paper were perfect. But none touched my heart in the way I was seeking. That is, until I introduced myself to an ex-racehorse named Tom’s Thunder. When I walked into his paddock, he came to me and hung his head directly in front of my heart. As a solid bay (brown), he did not look like the horse I expected to fall for. Yet, meeting him was like being reunited with a lost friend. We have been together for close to ten years now. In that time, we have worked cows, done ring work, practiced a variety of training techniques, survived two life-threatening illnesses, and traveled many trails with me on his back as well as by his side. Tom is a willing partner, though sometimes he lacks focus and or motivation. Is that him or me? Who knows? Like many close relationships, the lines between us are blurred, making most interactions like the chicken or the egg. This makes him a great mentor for me, as he is like a mirror. Luckily, I like what I see. That isn’t to say we don’t bicker or disagree; we do. Even so, when with Tom I know a sense of belonging that is rare these days.

It is estimated that horses were domesticated around 3,000 or 4,000 BC. Even after so much time, they have retained a good portion of their natural instincts. Because horses are prey animals, they interact differently with the world than humans do as predators. Spending time with Tom teaches me to be more aware of my surroundings, effective collaboration and how to wordlessly communicate. I’d like to repay him by enhancing his life in return. That he comes to greet me upon arrival—sometimes leaving horse friends and grass behind—it seems I do.

Tom raced on the flat track for 5 years, earning almost a half million dollars. The average life span of a horse is 25-33 years. Horses race young, so they often have many years to live at the end of their racing career. Just like a retiring pro football player. This is why I said yes when asked to join the board of ACTT Naturally, a new not-for-profit that will retrain and rehome thoroughbreds no longer racing (www.acttnaturally.org). Tom helps me grow as a human being. I would like to have a part in others finding such a relationship to open their hearts to.

Recently, I went to a place called Earthlands-University of the Wild. I was able to spend time alone on the land there. Having been a student of Tom’s, I sensed my surroundings as a prey animal—merging with the habitat, along with the trees, plants, and birds. It is my belief that what the world needs and wants above all else, is for humans to connect to the earth’s wild rhythm, and know it as the wise, self-sustained, elder that it is. Perhaps, by spending more time listening to and learning from animals, we too will embrace domestication while remaining in harmony with the Earth.

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