People say it is anthropomorphic to fix our human emotions upon animals. I’m told that animals do not react as emotional beings, that their behaviors are based upon instinctual reactions, such as hunger, pain, fear, and procreation, rather than affection. That may be so. Personally I believe it is wrong.
Animals are our greatest teachers. They give of themselves in the most unexpected ways. They may not have a voice as to their own well-being. We in fact “use” our animals to our own needs with little thought to what would that horse want? Is she happy? Am I a good steward. Some of us I guess are better than others in that regard, but in the end, horses have no choices.
Last evening I had to ask myself a lot of those questions. After a particularly stressful day at work I drove home in a deluge of rain. Creeks overflowing their banks, and honestly no let up in sight, it just kept pummeling down. Arrived home and headed straight into the house for my rubber boots and a jacket, then out to the barn. The horses were drenched and cold, heads down, water dripping off their noses, shivering from their day in the rain, especially Phebes who gets chased out from under shelter by the other two horses. I opened the gate to call them in for some relief in their stalls from the cold, and to have a dry spot to lay.
As I walked to Journey’s stall I found it had flooded and was about three or four inches deep in water and coming in fast. I baled with a small bucket into a large bucket, carrying it out, baling some more, and some more, ten five gallon buckets, fifteen, twenty, stopped counting, the water coming in as fast I could take it out. At some point I just couldn’t bale anymore. I was so upset. My one treasure in life is this spotted horse. I felt as though I’d failed her. There would be no dry place to sleep, just a roof to stand under for the night. I leaned over the rail and cried. All the frustrations of many months came to a head. Anger in a non-working relationship, sadness at the decline of my Mom’s health at eighty-one, disappointment about people that are not honest and have motivations to use you, and to use you only, my financial inability to provide for more than a competition or two each year on my horse, a life that has things, but currently feels so lacking in what brings me true happiness. It all came pouring out, as the water kept burbling in and I felt suddenly caved in by a life which is dictated by the wants and needs of others, and so rarely the things that might bring me personal joy. The murky waters pooling in her stall represented everything negative I’ve experienced this past year. So I did what I very rarely do. I gave up. I leaned against the rail and cried. Poured out all the mad, the sadness, the aggravation of my lack of control over the things that are important to me. I felt something warm on my neck, and a chin propped on my shoulder. Journey just stayed there. Quietly lending her support in her equine way. “It’s okay.” “My feet are wet, but the rest of me is dry.” “The rain will stop.” “The rain, will, stop.”