“Have you hugged your horse today?” is an expression used throughout the horse world to ask equestrians if they are showing gratitude and if they are having fun. The idea is if you are frustrated, and not enjoying your time with your horses anymore, it’s time to take a step back and rethink the way you are going about things. In addition this simple question asks you if you show an adequate amount of gratitude to your horse’s amount of “try”.
No horses don’t necessarily understand the concept of a hug, but they understand the emotions behind it. It’s like smiling at a baby, at first the baby doesn’t know what a smile is, they don’t even know they have toes yet for goodness sake! But eventually when you smile and your baby feels secure and comfortable they will associate a smile with happiness. The same goes for hugging your horse, or whatever you do to show gratitude.
For instance a horse that has become head-shy from being abused will shy away and could spook at a raised hand, but a horse that has known nothing but affection will lean in for the firm pat on the neck they know means a job well done. It’s not the action, but the emotion behind it that really means something.
When I first started working with horses, I would spend hours sitting on the edge of the fence watching them interact. I have learned more about life, love and relationships (of all kinds) from watching horses, simply because they are pure, they hide nothing and when something needs to be ‘said’ it is, and no one gets offended.
Today I sat by the paddock for the first time in a while, and instead of running after life, I sat and watched it unfold, remembering the oh so important fact that minutes are worth much more than money, and we must all learn to spend them wisely.
So have you hugged your horse today?