Home > Trip > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2013 > Daily Dispatch #103

April 13, 2013: Love and Animals

I don’t ever see the word love mentioned when I read books on horse or dog training. I guess it’s assumed that the reader loves the animal in question; otherwise, why would they be reading what the writer has mentioned? Love in most instances is just a given.

I do think that more trainers should talk about love when they talk about animal training because it is so very much a part of the bigger picture. This is difficult because love is such a nebulous term. It’s also presumed that the word love should be used in talking about what people feel for other people.

I don’t know if animals actually love us. And it doesn’t matter to me. I do think that they value our companionship. It is also a dependency-related thing. We feed, they eat. We clean up after them, they stay healthy. We shelter them, they stay dry. We blanket them, they stay warm. We tend to their injuries, they recover. We give them jobs befitting of their physical and mental make-up, and they do them. This is not just specific to horses, but it is generally applicable to all animals.

This past week I spent time separately with three women who are single horse owners. Heather loves Rio, a quarter horse-Arab gelding, Marj loves Delilah, an Icelandic Quarter horse mare, and Vickie loves Hunar, an Icelandic gelding. We all have male partners. Heather, Marj, and Vickie all have kids. I have none. I have five horses; however, I could, like them, have just one.

When we get together, we talk horse, incessantly. Our conversations are liberally peppered with repeated references to them – we talk about all aspects of horse care, feeding, training, veterinary considerations included. We all dote on our horses. The men become asides in these conversations – they are, in this context, the ones helping us support our horse habit. It is not that the men aren’t loved – it’s just that this is the time in which they become a secondary concern. We women are able to keep things in perspective.

There is, in all instances, an unstated love of these animals which manifests itself in a desire to provide the absolute best of care for them. This is a real challenge for us all – none of us have a whole lot of money. Alaska has climate-related obstacles. Good hay is in short supply. Good veterinarians are hard to come by.

This week there was a lot of talk about saddle fit issues because I just got a new one. And we talked about summer plans. We all want to get the horses out on the trails. There’s still three or so feet of snow on the ground in most places, so it may be a while.

The bigger commonality is that we all dearly love our horses. I can imagine it – our horses getting together and talking about us in glowing terms with one another. But it’s rather a moot point, isn’t it?

I’m in over my head on this one. I have in attempting to write about animal love, met my dispatch-related waterloo.

Next: 104. April 14, 2013: Trot