Horse Behaviour

How we project our needs into our animal’s personal space

What I’ve noticed is that when people first come into contact with their favourite animals instead of taking a second and evaluating the energy that surrounds the animal, they dive straight in smothering them with love. You may think there is nothing wrong with that it’s not like they’re harming them but I believe the animals don’t necessarily feel the same.

When we enter an animal’s personal space be it a horse’s stable or field or a dog’s bed we do generally make a very quick initial assessment as to whether we may be putting ourselves at risk, e.g. does the horse look like it’s going to kick us. But beyond that we don’t think much more, what I’ve noticed is as soon as people have made the conclusion that the animal is safe they then feel it’s perfectly ok to hug them, pat them hard on the neck, another them with kisses, lean over their crate in a loving but very dominating way, and generally bring sloth?? of energy into a space that previously was very peaceful.

I compare it to this, if we see a friend from a distance and they see us, if they open their heart and arms in a gesture of ‘come into my space’ give me a hug we respond and all is well. But we’ve been invited in. If we spot a friend in the distance who’s sitting peacefully reading or daydreaming, maybe even dozing and we go up to them fling our arms around them and smother them in excitable energy that’s seen as a bit overbearing and not really ok. Humans have these boundaries of personal space that most people adhere to. Normally if we see that friend sitting peacefully reading and wanted to say hello we’d approach in a peaceful manner, announce our arrival quietly so as not to make them jump and then sit down to have a chat, if they then opened up and gave us body language to permit a welcome hug or kiss on the cheek we would do so.

 So why are we so different with animals? Granted there are some animals out there that do greet us with excitement, that genuinely do want to be smothered with attention the minute we see them, but there are also far more animals (especially horses) that spend the majority of their lives living in a very peaceful energy, munching hay or grass in silence and generally chilling. Surely we should give these animals the same respect as the friend reading the book? Drop our energy (even if we are ridiculously happy to finally see a horse) announce our arrival quietly and only when we feel they want to let us in maybe give them a gentle hug or stroke? 


From observing and also teaching this I have become aware that if we drop our energy to match that of the animal we are approaching, that animal responds in a more welcoming and open way. Instead of putting up energetic barriers against the hyperactive or stressed energy that’s approaching and energetically pulling away, they genuinely open to the arrival of the newcomer and are far more willing to engage. 

Just because giving our horse a hug will make us feel better it doesn’t always mean it will make the horse happy! So next time you approach a stable or a dog’s bed just consider not only “am I safe” but also “how does this animal want me to enter their space?” Then take a moment and see if you can drop into that vibe. You may still get to give them a hug and a kiss but maybe not within the first second of meeting them!!!

Namaste

Picture by Claire Leroy Photography