THE NATURE OF HERD ANIMALS
To be mentally healthy a herd animal needs its community. Eating together, walking, playing, sleeping, stroking each other, testing each other’s strengths and weaknesses all belongs to a horse’s life. Horses don’t separate themselves into dressage horses, jumping horses, running horses, polo horses and spare-time horses. That’s what us humans have invented. We have locked them into categories, which come from a limited and use-orientated thinking. A horse is always a horse, no matter what we call it.
Within the herd the horses will pick a leader whose job it is to lead the herd to food and water while aiming to conserve as much energy as possible. She also protects them from predators with her constant attention and vigilance by immediately calling to flight if there’s danger and keeping the peace within the herd. Usually the leader is a mare. Rarely the mare gained her leadership through evil dominance. These types of leaders rarely stay for long because their position has to be constantly secured by spreading fear. This is too stressful for all the participants for it to last very long. You’ll understand this a lot more when you get to know herbivores. Horses know how to appreciate a good leader. A true leader is calm, secure, fair and emotionally strong. Physical strength doesn’t play the decisive role we humans like to think it does. Physical strength is important for the stallion whose job is to defend the herd against other stallions and lurking predators.
What you can learn from this
- We are very similar to horses. We also need a community in the shape of family and friends to feel safe and secure. It’s important to be able to be alone but loneliness is something different. Loneliness can make you sick and sad in the long run. Therefore make sure your horse has at least one other horse as a companion with whom it can just be a horse.
- When you’re together with your horse you are a two person herd. Who the leader is between the two, is decided every day. If you behave fairly, calmly, lovingly and consistently and are a safe haven for your horse, it will trust you and be happy to follow you. Just be the kind of person people like to be with and you’re on the right track.
- Don’t spread fear to assert yourself. It doesn’t make you stronger if you put others down. It makes you lonely, because people will start avoiding you.