By Sandi Martinez
A weekend of high’s and low’s inspired me to try to make sense of a horse in fight or flight mode. I can’t write this really without the inspiration and teaching by quite a young person; my 11-year-old friend, and charge, Brooklyn.
She has two horses: Belle and Likada. Belle is a beautiful black mare, spritely, and full of life, and very expressive. Likada, is a spotted black and white mare, and reminds me of horses that streak like lightning against mystical canvases. Likada likes to shove her face into my chest area, as if I’ve hidden a snack there, or maybe she wants to hear the beating of my heart?
But for now, Belle is the horse that piqued my interest in horse body language; I got first-hand experience. For example, when Bell moved her ears backward, it either meant she was hearing something behind her or she was angry and about to bite. She also moved her ears toward the direction she wanted to go; Brooklyn provided me this information as she let the horse go where it wanted.
However, what should have been a leisurely ride for my young friend, ended up instead, as a somewhat disturbing exercise in listening with our hearts, and intuition, rather than our actual hearing. It was the same for Belle, and it was from Belle that we realized, we were learning how to hear through a horse’s ear.
Belle likes to softly nicker when she sees me. She doesn’t know me, but I’ve fed her before, so she thinks I’m cool enough to acknowledge. This day, she greeted me with Brooklyn on her back, as she ate fragments of grass; her head bobbed up and down in greeting.
A strange feeling coated the country air. It was as if someone watched us behind the trees. With Belle and Brooklyn behind me, I braved the pines and walked over the small hills behind the house. Belle’s ears kept pointing backward, and she seemed anxious. She backed up and walked the other direction, ignoring Brooklyn’s commands. I walked on, determined. If there was an animal stalking the area, I would encourage it to go the other way though how, I wasn’t sure.
As I walked the area, there were no predators, just an eerie, terrifying energy that stayed on; an unwelcome guest. It’s when I realized that horses do what dogs or cats do; they sense energy – all kinds. We got Belle back in the barn, but we both walked back to the house feeling unease. The energy ceased to exist after a few hours – and we both felt comforted to know, that angels really are among us… and thanks to Belle’s body language, we felt relieved that we weren’t imagining what we sensed; just because we couldn’t see it, it didn’t mean it didn’t exist! The horse knows… but so do your cat, your dog, and other animal companions – and my lesson? Listen!