One of the activities people engage in when they come to an equine-assisted learning session is called “meet the herd”. This activity can happen while observing a herd grazing in the field.
I recall observing a herd of horses eating around a hay feeder when a new gelding arrived by the name of “Leo”—a beautiful thoroughbred gelding was the ‘new guy’ and not readily accepted into the herd. Leo stood away from the feeder. The herd pinned their ears and chased him off anytime he tried to come near. Leo was indeed not welcome.
I left the herd that day feeling bad for Leo, “the new guy”. Many times in life we are the Leos in situations; the first day as the new kid at school or the first day at a new job. These are tough days, you don’t know anyone’s name, where anything is, what you are supposed to be doing and there are lots of eyes on you.
The next time I attended the field about a week later, Leo had a new friend, Mojo. Mojo is a much smaller horse than Leo at maybe 14 hands (Leo is likely 16.2). Leo was Mojo’s shadow, followed him everywhere! Through Mojo Leo made his way to the feeder and was slowly being accepted into the herd. If Mojo left the feeder, Leo followed him. Mojo didn’t seem to mind Leo on his heels and Leo seemed very grateful to be there! I left feeling so much better for Leo, glad he had Mojo to show him the ropes! I silently thanked Mojo for being a kind soul.
The next time I went to the field, about a week later, I spied Leo at the feeder with the entire herd. Leo was happily eating with his new friends seemingly very well accepted. One horse was missing though.
Mojo wasn’t at the feeder. Mojo was off by himself away from the herd, his new friend Leo, appeared to be in Mojo’s old spot! I left that day feeling sad for Mojo. To me, it seemed Mojo stepped up, took the new guy under his wing, and for all his effort ended up out in the cold away from his friends, his herd, and… the food.
Another week went by and I observed Mojo back at the feeder with Leo and the entire herd, all seemed well, and I felt better. Then I realized each time I witnessed something different with the herd it changed how it felt, I felt sad for Leo, happy for Leo, sad for Mojo, happy for Mojo….
I realized there were some lessons in these interactions
- It’s tough to be the new guy!
- Sometimes you aren’t accepted and that’s tough!
- Sometimes life isn’t fair.
- Sometimes the Mojos of the world come in and help us out!
- Sometimes we do what we think is a good thing and for all our trouble we end up out in the cold!
- Sometimes things just work themselves out, and sometimes they don’t
My hero in this story is Mojo, doing the right thing even though the wrong thing seems to be happening. The only one who felt bad for Mojo was me; he didn’t feel bad for his circumstances, he was grazing off on his own enjoying life—not taking things personally.
Sue Dixon, owner of Partnering Horses with Humans, is a Certified Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator through Horse Spirit Connections and Cartier Farms (Dreamwinds), and a Registered Coach through Equestrian Canada. Sue and her beloved horse Egalie were the 2014 champions of the beginner division of the North East Trillium Hunter Jumper Association. Sue has a degree in Sociology from the University of Waterloo.
Sue has 33 years of experience working at a local corporation with leadership in quality and health and safety. Sue’s role with Partnering Horses with Humans is that of facilitator; helping clients find their own wisdom by tapping into the horse’s wisdom. Sue operates her business out of two locations and offers services and workshops to individuals, couples, families, and workplaces.