Zak Thanks Me

By Terry Golson


Zak is one of my clients. He’s developed a skin condition on his legs. It’s very itchy.

itchy-horse

 

Zak thanks me for my care.

thankful-horse

 

Animals do express gratitude, but we humans are often dull to what they are telling us. One reason that my animals talk to me is that I stay focused on them. I often see people at the barn chatting with their friends while grooming their horses. I prefer to socialize only with my horse. (Later I’ll visit with my human friends.) Maybe it comes from those years of not being able to hear very well. I had to listen hard to the one being that I was trying to communicate with. Horses are not verbal, they’re all about touch and nuances of movement. I could “hear” them. Pay close attention. There’s a lot they’re telling you by a shift in weight and the flick of an ear.

The inside of Zak’s legs itch. I rub with a sisal mitt and I can feel him slightly press against my hand. His head drops. His lip relaxes. He looks at me with a soft eye. He’s told me Yes, there. He reaches around and blows on me, eyes relaxed, ears to the sides. Zak says Thank you.

Many people believe that you create a relationship via training. I agree that you can open lines of communication and build trust, especially if you train using a marker and food rewards. (Often called clicker training.) But, if you don’t listen, even that training can be stressful, ineffective or anxiety-provoking. Don’t even begin until you know how your horse says thank you.

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