An improbable relationship: horse and human

Cheval Québec, automne 2016I rarely stop to read the first page of a magazine, the editorial, and even more rarely does it strike a chord with me. However, in the Fall 2016 issue of Cheval Québec magazine, editor in chief Nathalie Beaulieu wrote a piece touching upon what horse people have in common. This inspired me to write the short text below about a fundamental aspect which, I believe, affects all of us who have let horses come into our lives.

Horse and human: an improbable relationship…

What is the common denominator for all of us who have let horses come into our lives? I could not say what is the initial spark that draws us towards these wonderful creatures, this trigger being very personal to each one of us. However, as soon as this mysterious attraction is aroused, a curious phenomenon comes into play, a strange paradox that requires building a trusting relationship between a prey animal whose very survival rests upon its inborn flight instinct, a horse, and a ferocious predator who has conquered – or so would he like to believe – the planet, a human being.


This amazing moment when a horse comes to you in complete trust… | Photo Henri Thibodeau, Ma Belle Daisy, 10-year old Halflinger mare

When a horse makes the decision to trust a human being to the point of letting him or her guide its very steps, in the horse’s mind this essentially equates with entrusting its very existence to the care of this unpredictable predator – either walking at its sides or perched on its back. Paradoxical indeed. As for the “unconquered” predator, close interaction with this huge and apparently tamed animal which essentially remains a wild beast at heart, prompt to flee at the least emergency trigger, also poses a threat to his or her very existence : the sudden kick of a hoof, a scramble in a tight spot or a nasty fall, and it may very well be game over.

Whether this is conscious or not on the part of the human – I would contend that it certainly is on the part of the horse –, the horse-human relationship rests implicitly upon this tacit acceptation of the risk of sudden death. So, this is the essential paradox upon which lies our relationship with a horse :  developing a mutual and unconditional trust that allows us, horse and human, to overcome our fundamental fear of death so we can ride together into new and incredible adventures, whatever discipline we humans choose to explore this most improbable of relationships which, sometimes, will emerge into authentic friendship, or even unconditional love…

Henri Thibodeau  RiderInBlack Henri’s Web Space



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