I'm a little late writing this blog. Taxes took precedence. Ugh.
I got the idea to write this blog around Valentine's Day when I mused on love, what it looks like, and the actions that demonstrate it.
What does this have to do with horses? The more time I spend in the presence of equines, the easier it is for me to bring everything back to them and how they relate. And I find their way more effective and appealing than how humans operate.
Horses have one, and only one goal, to live to the next day. Yet, they demonstrate an incredible capacity to comfort each other. They exhibit tolerance and patience, are masters at setting boundaries, and will trust a herd member with their life.
There are many examples of horse love, bonded pairs, a wild stallion and his mare, an equine and a goat or dog friend they cannot be without, and many more.
My first experience witnessing horses express love occurred with Rudy and my friend's mare, Doxie. Anyone that has read my children's books knows Doxie.
Doxie is almost always alpha in any herd she's part of, and this was no exception when she and Rudy were together. My friend was surprised that Doxie readily shared her hay with him. She commented that she usually didn't do this. As the two horses spent more time together, it was clear they enjoyed each other's company.
Doxie was subtle in demonstrating her emotions. Meanwhile, it was apparent Rudy was enamored from the beginning. Doxie chased the other gelding in the herd off while she allowed Rudy to be near her most of the time.
When we rode the trails together, Rudy sought Doxie's support and comfort by checking in. I would ride him up next to her, and the two horses would stand shoulder to shoulder and nose to nose, breathing in each other's air lost in their moment.
Once Rudy had an abscess in his hoof that was very painful. The two horses stood together in the paddock corner when it was at its worst. Doxie hardly left his side. She dozed next to him and snuggled her face into his chest. The only possible interpretation was that she was comforting him.
Doxie moved to another barn, and the horses separated for roughly two years before being reunited for several months. My friend and I wondered what would happen when they saw each other. Their reunion did not disappoint.
Doxie whinnied to Rudy at first sight. Rudy seldomly vocalizes, yet he immediately whinnied back to her. My friend released him, and the horses trotted eagerly toward one another. When they met, they pressed their faces together in a warm greeting staring into the eyes of each other and breathing the other's air. In their initial days together, they were inseparable.
The affection they had for each other was plain to see. I have not seen Rudy act this way with any other horse before or since.
I do not purport that he feels the same way for me as he does for Doxie. However, this summer, when I was injured, he demonstrated that he cared for me.
He was on his best behavior for a couple of months. He groomed me incessantly and frequently paused to check-in. His check-ins involved him stopping whatever he was doing to stare deeply into my eyes as if to deliver a message or send one.
Interestingly, this special treatment stopped as soon as he assessed that I was moving around as I usually do.
Over recent years, I have often wondered what my romantic relationship would be like if I put as much into it as I do with Rudy.
I analyze or bring consciousness to nearly every interaction with him. I'm talking about all-consuming, borderline obsessive thinking on how to improve me, so we are better. I can't help thinking of the good that could come if we approached each other in this way.
Yet, even with all the barriers, I find myself more interested in working on my relationship with Rudy than with most humans. He's fair. He doesn't judge me, and he's tolerant. He gives me everything he can every time, so I feel compelled to do the same.
It's not all rainbows and unicorns. Our relationship is like any other, and it has highs and lows. I get frustrated, and Rudy sometimes gets annoyed with me. What keeps me trying is that he doesn't carry emotions over from our previous interactions. I get a blank slate every time I show up. A chance to do things differently, better, and often I'm rewarded for the change.
I don't have to tell anyone reading this that this is not the typical way humans deal with one another. Inevitably, the work I do on my relationship with Rudy spills over into all of my interactions, making them better.
I'm blessed Rudy is expressive and sensitive. It helps bridge the human-horse communication gap. After watching him relate to other souls, including myself, for almost seven years, there's no doubt in my mind that Rudy feels love and gives love.
Written by Diane R Jones, March 1, 2022