Just recently I visited a barn in Rhode Island.  Ella, my boyfriend’s nine year old niece wanted to take us to her local barn, not to see the horses, but to see the litter of catahoula puppies.  We ventured down the beautiful New England road, driving through green landscapes with amazing rock walls and rolling hills.  When we drove down the driveway I noticed a young man working a paint horse in the arena.  I didn’t pay much attention to him because Ella ushered us into the barn to see the pups!  So cute but ouch what sharp teeth.  A few minutes were all we could take with the rambunctious 7 week old catahoula pups!

When we were leaving I noticed that the horse that was being worked in the arena was now tied to the fence and desperately trying to roll in the sand.  He was tied too short and was smart enough to figure out he could not get down.  I immediately walked over to the horse and gave him a good face rub and noticed he was covered in sweat.  My boyfriend was worried that I was going to untie the horse and let him roll which was exactly what I wanted to do.  I restrained myself and was okay with giving him that good face rub which he thoroughly enjoyed.

As we were heading to the car the man who had worked the horse was walking by us and I couldn’t help but say “Your horse really wants to roll” and he remarked without breaking stride “He’s learning patience”.  I was bothered by his remark as I am sure he was bothered by my remark.   As we were driving away my boyfriend was checking in with me, “You Oay?”  Of course I was okay, but that snippet comment sat uncomfortably with me.  And then it hit me why: it is not the horse which needs to learn patience but rather the human.  A roll for a sweaty horse is instinctual and natural.  Noticing this need and allowing it is an act of kindness and not allowing it an act of control.  It is not the end of the world that this horse didn’t get to roll but in my relationships with the horses tending to these simple healthy needs warms my heart and even watching a sweaty itchy horse brings me joy.