My dog Tanner, is a 9 year old Border Collie whom I have had since a puppy. He is smart, fun, energetic, very expressive, and did I mention smart. Nearly everyone who meets him says some variation of “if only he could talk...”. I always reply to this by telling them that Tanner’s wish is for people to learn how to listen. He has a lot to say. When I am working with my animals, I constantly remind myself to try to hear and see what they are telling me. It isn’t always easy.
Tessa is a 3 year old Spotted Saddle Horse who was started under saddle this spring. Right from the start she was an exceptional saddle horse and to be honest, this surprised me a little. I bought Tessa last Fall and while I thought she was a nice enough filly she always seemed kind of nervous and worried about things. She was seldom still and especially in the barn, she was always moving…holding one foot in the air, bobbing her head up and down, pacing. So, I was surprised when she turned out to be a totally unflappable, steady, and fun riding horse. Out on the trails, she is the closest thing to bomb-proof I have ever ridden. Unusual in any horse and remarkable for a 3 year old.
It wasn’t until the other horses were gone from here and Emma took their place that I realized the truth of things. Tessa had been under more stress from the other horses than I had ever realized and all of that went away with Emma. Tessa is now the calm, quiet, relaxed horse that I saw under saddle in the barn and everywhere else. She plays with Emma, dozes contentedly in the barn and is happy.
Tessa was trying to tell me all of this but I just couldn’t see it. Listening takes a lot of practice and an open mind. Sorry Tess, I’ll try to do better from now on.