The Riddle Of Milk And Grass

Two_cattle_near_Wantastiquet_Mountain

In my first article I explained the untranslatable state of mind horses use to perceive reality. I exposed how they graphically perceive their universe and how we fit into that untranslatable world. I also explained how we as riders can change his perception and the negative effects it can have in the horses, specifically associated to the bit effects.

Now I want to go a little deeper with this untranslatable concept, explaining why the horse perceives the universe as untranslatable. Where that ability is found and is developed in the horse, and why we have a different perception about the world.

There is a consensus between psychologists about the huge significance breast feeding has for any mammal’s future physical and psychological development. The way in which animals relate to food in the first stage of development is the way they will relate with the world in the future, and it will have a big impact on behavior.

If we compare a horse with a human and with a dog, in the beginning all mammals are not that different in that we all start eating by breast feeding. Of course there are emotional differences between animals and humans, but what I mean here is that the milk will be available, in general, if there is no health problem. Now if we look at it a little more deeply, there are some differences that are important. Horses, in general, have plenty of milk because horses breed one foal at a time so there is no anxiety associated with needing to compete with others for the lactation: so we can say that under normal conditions the foal has plenty of milk to drink and it is available most of the time. Dogs, on the other hand, need to compete for the lactation, so there is an anxiety associated with this, and milk becomes something to fight and reach for.

Humans supposedly have plenty of milk as well, yet because humans are more complex emotionally, their babies do not always have it available. Many times the babies have to compete with the mom’s work, dad’s attention, mom’s stress, family, and many other complex emotions and interactions that make it difficult. So many babies perceive the lactation as something to reach for and not something that is always available.

After weaning, in a natural or semi-natural environment, horses will still have plenty of food in the field, and they will chose when to eat, having no anxiety at all, because the pasture will be there. For dogs on the other hand, in semi wild conditions they will have to hunt and reach for food, so food will still be something to look for and with a relatively high level of anxiety. When humans are fed, moms will make a schedule, so food will not be available all the time, and food will be associated with anxiety in many cases, something to reach.

If a horse has this natural environment during his growth, he will be an animal that has no tension regarding food. For most horses in a field or pasture there is no tension and anxiety at all. So then in a safe environment where there is no danger around, the horse will be able to come back to that peaceful state of mind where it grew up, where there is no need to search for food, and his brain will perceive the environment as untranslatable because the horse developed the neuronal network for that behavior and for that mental state. That relation with food is projected as a way to relate with the universe. So that’s why horses don’t really need humans to survive, and if they interact, in a safe way, they see us as part of his untranslatable universe because of the pattern that his relation with food creates. If horses have pastures, they don’t feel anxiety for our company.

In the case of dogs it is all the opposite, because they by nature have to reach for food, and that is the pattern they project when they relate with us. Because of food, we are something to reach, and something separate from them. And when we relate with horses, many of us see horses as something to reach and separate from us, not untranslatable as they see us. Our brain projects our lactation experience as the way to relate with horses, and a dog’s brain projects their lactation experience to relate with us.

As soon as we want to reach out to horses under this pattern, we idealize them, as dogs idealize us. I always hear that horses are holy, pure, that they don’t lie, and that they are compassionate; they forgive, and so on. But the fact is that even if I agree they are amazing beings and very special, they are far from holy. And I think it is very unfair to give all those characteristics to horses, and also to ask them to be able to heal us. We see horses with that perspective because they live in an untranslatable world, as one with the universe, but still are wild animals. Horses don’t heal us because they are compassionate, holy, illuminated, etc. We get healing because of what WE feel for them. Because we want to reach them like a baby wants to reach his mother’s milk. The feelings of reaching them as something that we are not is what makes us feel better. The profound admiration we feel is what makes us feel healing. Why are horses used more to heal than dogs? Because dogs have that inner lactation and hunting anxiety remaining in his deep mind that horses do not, so dogs are healing too, but in a different way. They make us feel good because WE feel needed, and that is important for us.

The ability of horses is to live in a present state of mind, naturally, something that only spiritual masters can achieve, and that is the key. But the difference is that they make no effort to be in the present, as we have to do.

Now when a horse lives in a box and is fed, the horse will change his pattern. He will become more like a dog because food will become something to reach.

Then the horse will lose the ability to get into his untranslatable state of mind, and food will make him feel anxiety. And because that unnatural circumstance conflicts with their intrinsic nature. so their behavior will be erratic about it, and very confusing. Food will become an object separate from him.

When we give food as a reward to horses, we are focusing the relation on the object as separate from them, as something that we have but they don’t, so both the food and the source of the food are separate from them and the untranslatable world is broken. We also bring horses to an unnatural field, where we create an artificial anxiety for the food we have and that they want to reach, which is totally unnecessary, because horses don’t work under that pattern. Dogs are designed to deal with that anxiety; horses are not under that artificial privation. And in the same way our mothers manipulated or orchestrated us with food, we try to have the horse by food too.

I don’t say that to give carrots to horses is not good; I say that we need to understand the riddle of the dynamic, and how that affects the relation with them. I think we have to do all we can to keep them in their untranslatable world, knowing where that mental state comes from, understanding them, to let them be horses. They are special and magical enough just they are. Maybe we need to accept that our nature is not untranslatable at all.

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About the author

Ishbak Shehadeh

Horse Behaviorist, creator of Ishbak Bitless System, Founder of Bitless Racing Movement.

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