Serenading horses

January 29, 2018

 

In this week’s blog I wanted to share something fun and interesting I experienced when I was on the Spanish island Mallorca last November working with horses (and donkey’s, which I love even more than horses, but that’s for a different post). It’s also a follow-up of my previous blog about the power of doing nothing. Since a few years I’ve been telling myself that someday I would like to try out playing guitar among horses and see what happens. Of course, in order to do that, I first had to learn to play guitar... Spanish music always speaks to my heart so I found a beautiful song called ‘Spanish Romance’ and practiced with the help of YouTube for a few weeks on a borrowed guitar. The final week I was on the island, I figured it was now or never. By then I knew the first part of the song well enough, so I grabbed the guitar and walked over the horses.

 

Let me give you a little bit of background info before I continue on what happened. There are two pastures. In each pasture is a mare, Chiquita and Akira, who are always the first to walk away when they see you coming, especially when carrying a halter. Both get very tense and annoyed when you are close to them or touch them and will gladly threaten to kick. I had already been working with them for a while in the same way as described in my previous blog (..link..), by going in, petting them and sometimes putting the halter on, then taking it off again and walking away. Repeating this a couple times a day. They had gotten much better already but were definitely not quite there yet.

 

Now back to the guitar story. First, I went into Chiquita’s pasture, sat on the ground and started playing. The initial note scared the death out of this mare, but then she slowly walked up to me, stood behind me and completely chilled out! Licking, chewing, yawning, eyes half closed… really soaking up the music and sharing this special moment. The other horses showed some curiosity the first minute or so, but then kept their distance and went back to eating. It was only after I had repeated the song a few times that Chiquita seemed satisfied and walked away to graze. “Wow”, I thought, that was pretty cool!

 

Then I got up and went into the other pasture with Akira. Whereas Chiquita is more of an anxious horse who rather avoids conflict, Akira is a very dominant alpha mare. As soon as I went down on one knee and started playing, Akira came walking up in a fast pace. I realized I had put myself in a very vulnerable position, but I tried to keep focusing on the music, relax and still read her body language for signs that she might tell me to get lost. But she didn’t… Just like Chiquita, she then came standing behind me and relaxed. I couldn’t help but smile and thank her for trusting me. Then I made a little mistake. When I stopped playing for a second and wanted to pet her (her head was low), she told me that was not part of the deal - her head went up, her ears back and she quickly walked off. I quietly apologized to her and started playing again, upon which she came back and chilled out some more… J

 

These moments with Chiquita and Akira, the two horses that rather not have anything to do with you, felt so powerful. Why specifically these two reacted like this, I don’t know, but I am just grateful they did. I wish I had more time with them, to see if this could even affect their general behavior pattern and willingness to be with me. This is definitely something I want to explore more in the future!

 

Have you ever played music among horses, or other animals for that matter? If so, I’d love to hear your experience! I’m very curious to learn more about it and can’t wait to try it again.

 

For now, have a wonderful day and until next time!

- Cecile

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