It has been three weeks since the long waited arrival of Lulu and Fable, our miniature horses. By all accounts they are settling in well— adjusting to their new environment while meeting the rest of the family. It has been a wonderful experience watching their demeanor and comfort levels change as the weeks have gone by.
Although I am skillful at observing the body language of all animals I have been drawn to take this gift to another level by nurturing an empathetic view of those I am interacting with, be they two legged or four. Can I understand them better by seeing what they see, standing where they stand, and feeling what they feel? It has taken patience, vulnerability and practice but the answer is definitely yes.
I have had some very insightful realizations as a result of this shift in perspective. Using Fable as an example, he comes across as an extremely shy being. When I met him for the first time it seemed like merely looking at him caused him to back up and hide behind his buddy. So, shifting my perspective, I began to imagine standing in his … hoofs. I looked for more qualities that would describe his reactions to situations to help deepen my understanding of his perspective. In doing this I discovered that while he may be shy he is not skittish or overly nervous; in fact, he is relatively quiet and slow moving. I sense his curiosity and a healthy sense of courage. For example, in uncertainty, or when faced with decisions to stay or flee, he takes time to ponder rather than haplessly react, he almost appears to be thinking or contemplating.
The more I get to know Lulu and Fable, the more I see how they have different needs in adjusting to a new home. Despite my eagerness to run up and coddle both of them, for the most part, I have refrained. When I imagine that I am in Fable’s shoes I can feel the hesitancy in having unknown people approach me, especially if they are much larger. In noticing this I give him space and the result is brilliant. Now when I enter into his paddock area, I stop when I feel I am in his energetic field, and kneel down until he approaches. I give him the choice to interact with me or not.
The more I allow his perspective to enter mine, the more I feel him developing a connection with me and his new home. There are times now that he will walk up to me, even when I am standing, stop and slowly lift his head until we make eye contact. I bend over to meet him as his nose reaches up to me. I feel his soft fur and look into his eyes and I feel I am in love.