Have you ever thought about how animals teach you? Maybe your cat or dog has taught you lessons, maybe also birds, squirrels, rabbits, or deer? Native Americans are astute observers of animals and name their clans after them. America itself is known as Turtle Island.
The Bible instructs us to learn from animals. Job 12:7 says to look to the animals to teach us. “But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being. Holy Bible Revised Standard Version (1990) Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
I have always been attracted to animals particularly horses; I joke that I have the “horse attraction gene” as part of my DNA. Like eye color—it doesn’t change.
So, what do horses teach me?
Horses are naturally peaceful, they seek and respect leadership and know their place in the herd. They are highly sensitive, intelligent, have long memories and as prey animals are always aware of their environments. They are curious, beautiful and proud. Their personalities and quirks endure. Horses can survive very well without human companions but will work with them when treated with respect and dignity.
On the human side of the equation, a good horse person is present, calm and “in one’s body” and focused on the present moment. This way both parties are ready to cooperate on what needs doing. Being around horses is grounding. Those of us who work with them often reflect on why they have and continue to cooperate with us– 1200 pounds of horse versus a couple hundred pounds of human flesh. But they do cooperate and they have for 1000s of years. Think about their service to our nation’s development in both war and in peace.
If I am aware, horses can teach me every day especially to be present in the moment which is an important way of being in life.
I hope you will consider how animals have taught and teach you!