Monday, August 24, 2009

My theory on why my horse is so affectionate after a ride

I mentioned in my post about Friday's trail ride that I have a theory about why Panama is so affectionate after a ride, particularly a good ride. Here it is:

I think it's about communication.

I feel that my horse and I have a pretty special bond. I'm not the best rider, but what I am good at is communicating with my horse. And although I've always said that being on the ground with your horse is the best quality time you can spend with them, it is also true that nothing tests your communication with them better than riding.

So this is my theory: I think that riding my horse is actually nothing more than working on honing our ability to communicate. Most of the time, that means communicating to him what I want, but of course it's also a two-way channel — not only do I need to be able to "hear" him if he has something to tell me (like the bugs making him cranky), I also need to be able to anticipate what he's going to do before he does it, so that I can do a better job of communicating what I want from him.

After such an intense exercise in communication, I think it's only natural that we'd be more in tune with one another. And that I think plays a major part in why he's so much more affectionate after a ride.

Of course, there are probably other things at work here. Endorphins are known to lift people's mood after they exercise — certainly I feel really happy after a good ride — and I wouldn't be surprised if it were the same with horses. Perhaps his affectionate behavior is also an expression of how good he feels after we ride. Certainly I've noticed before that the happiest horses at the barns I've been at always seem to be the ones that are ridden the most, so this is a good possibility.

There's also my s-e-x analogy. One of my riding buddies at my old barn had commented on how her horse used to get cranky when she'd only ever visit when she wanted to ride. Her friend pointed out that it was kind of like your husband only ever wanting to spend time with you when he wants to get laid, and after that all I could think of is how much the two activities have in common. I don't want other people to ride my horse, after all — I feel nearly the same way about that as I would if my friend asked to take my husband out for a spin.

Yes, I mean that to be funny, but I'm also serious. In a way, both combine physical activity with intense communication. Riding is an intimate act — at least, I think it should be, if you're doing it right. So maybe Panama is affectionate afterward because he is experiencing a sort of afterglow. Certainly it's not just him — some of my best moments with my horse are when I'm tacking him down after a good ride.

So I guess when it comes down to it, I actually have more than one theory about why my horse is so affectionate after a ride. But when you think about it, all three are interconnected in a way!



At August 24, 2009 at 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty close to right to me!

At August 26, 2009 at 9:15 PM, Blogger Reddunappy said...

Katharine I posted about snaffle bits. Hope I help.

At August 27, 2009 at 2:45 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Thanks, Kate! :o)

Pam, I'll check out your post. I just got "back" from a very busy few days, so I have a lot of blog reading to catch up on!


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