When the chance to go hang with horses one afternoon came up recently, I jumped at it! After all, it was part of an equine assisted learning program developed by family in Saskatchewan and they are now certifying others to teach the program and it's one of the coolest things to participate in. On this afternoon we ran through a couple exercises and although it wasn't my first time taking part, each time seems new and different, and each time I learn something that surprises me and is soooo cool.
In one exercise Feather (the sweetest of horses) was to push a yoga ball forward between two curbs. She wasn't to leave the aisle, but we (my human partner and I) also couldn't touch her. So while my partner walked on one side of her, my dog-knowledge instincts kicked in and I started calling to her like I would my dog friends. And these horse people watched in earnest, along with a healthy dose of confusion as I said "Feather, come on Feather! That's a good girl, Feather" I called in my saccharine-sweet and higher-than-ususal voice. Each time I called her, she moved forward towards me. When she finished the short course everyone laughed and said they couldn't believe she responded to my calls. To me - someone who knows way more about dogs than horses - it seemed natural, but to the horse folks, well, they were pretty surprised by what happened. In the end we agreed that horses can pick up on energies and the energy I was giving out was not one that would be met with anything other than love and praise when she got to me. I'd only known Feather a short while, but that little bond was evident and proved once again that horses can teach us a little something... or two.
This program was at Heart Lake Farms in Victoria, but you can learn more about the full program at www.cartierfarms.ca.
I can't share photos of the event due to privacy, but here's one of my and my new bestie, Feather.