Monday, January 13, 2014




“I wish they could talk, like they do in cartoons.”

Ah, but they do, I thought—contemplating how to explain the concept of silent communication to my very talkative eight-year-old sister. Drem is watching me at a distance, ears forward, then flicking back ever so briefly. I thought you came out here to get us for dinner, I hear her say. Then precocious Splash saunters toward me with a saucy tilt to her ears, shying away at the last second and exploding into a quick lope. You can’t catch me! she taunts, nearly aloud, and I play along with her game of tag until her sides heave and her breath comes in rapid snorts.

Equine communication is the reading of body language at its finest. Small shifts in movement, posture, and weight are all it takes to alert the horse beneath me to my mood and level of confidence; likewise, I can enter the corral in tears, and Drem will soon have her head buried comfortingly in my chest. They are experts at deciphering the words never spoken and the feelings never expressed.

I have learned, over my brief seven years of horse ownership, how to interpret some of their language in return. They do speak, though silently; and I only wish I were half as good at understanding them as they are at understanding me.



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