This is a picture of a new friend I made, Nutmeg. She is a 14 year old Tennessee Walker. As an animal trainer, I have worked with Dolphins, Sea Lions, and Beluga Whales. I guess I should also mention my 3 month “experiment” in working with Kangaroos. Yes, I said Kangaroos. Oh yeah, I am a “retired” dog trainer too.
However, I had always been fascinated by horses but never had an opportunity to work with them. Until a few months ago. Cheryl, a friend, invited me to the farm one day to meet Nutmeg.
Horses are prey animals which simply means they are cautious and afraid of EVERYTHING! A blade of grass blowing the wrong way can spook a 1400 pound horse into a panicked gallop across a pasture. Therefore, I was cautious when I walked into Ally’s and Nutmeg’s pasture.
I approached to within a 100 yards or so. She stopped grazing, picked her head up and her ears went fully erect while her tail swayed more swiftly. I stopped. I turned my back to her and dropped my head. I waited.
“She’s coming Peter.” Cheryl announced from across the field. “I can’t believe this. She’s coming. Keep doing what you’re doing.”
I felt my shirt being moved ever so gently, then a slight pressure on my pant legs. She was sniffing me, up and down. I kept my head low – communicating to her “I come in peace big girl.” And then, a magical moment occured. She put her head under my arm and nudged upward. She communicated to me, “I come in peace strange human.”
Cheryl approached us, “Oh my God! She has never done that with anyone. She really likes you! This is unreal. Nutmeg doesn’t really trust anyone. I guess when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
“What? I’ve never heard that before.”
“Yeah. It’s a Chinese proverb. Nutmeg doesn’t know a thing. She’s never been worked, never been trained. She just lives here on the farm. I guess she is ready to learn. She trusts you. She just CHOSE you to be her teacher.”
But, what I didn’t tell Cheryl was that I was ready to be Nutmeg’s student. She could become my teacher. I didn’t know a thing about horses!
How many times have we passed up an opportunity to learn something new because of our foolish pride? How many times have we refused to lower our heads and show respect in order to open our eyes, our senses, and our emotions to learning. Amazing moments can occur in our lives when we let go of who we are in order to become what we might be (another Chinese proverb.)
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.