They Don’t Need to Understand

Horse people.
Everyone has an opinion.
Some good. Some…not so much.
I listen to my horse.

The past 2 years, she’s worn a breakaway halter.
I’m home.

I’ve seen the images of horses who get caught up wearing a halter.
I’ve heard all the lectures.
Remember…horse people have opinions.
And, some are happy to beat you over the head with ’em.

Really, it’s no different from a horse wearing a fly mask…
Or a grazing muzzle…
Or a blanket 24/7…

But nobody lectures you or sends you shitty pictures of dead horses when you put those things on your horse.
Just when you leave a (breakaway) halter on.
Makes me a bit prickly…thorny even…when I get the unsolicited “advice”.

Thankfully, Facebook has a block feature.
My block list is a veritable “who’s who” of the local horse world.
Everyone who has decided to take it upon themselves to “educate” me, for my own good, for my horse’s good.
They’re on that block list.
Because inevitably, what began as “I’m concerned” turned into “you’re a lazy idiot” when I explain why she still wore the breakaway.
Which is hilarious.
I am anything but lazy when it comes to these horses.
This horse.
You know what they say about opinions though…

For the record…

After a few months with the breakaway, the plan was to remove it.
I spent hours and hours and hours going out with a regular halter, practicing catch, love up and release.
It took time, but it was worth it.
I have exactly ZERO issues catching this horse.

And so, one day, I decided to pull off the breakaway too.
I took it off, gave her the “you’re free” command that let’s her know she can go be herself, and walked out of the pasture.
That was just about a year and a half ago…

She panicked.
She followed me to the gate.
She whinnied.
She tried to come out the gate with me.
When the gate was closed and I walked to the house, she ran to the back fence.
She whinnied again…and again…and again…
She ran that fence line, back and forth, working up a lather, calling the whole time.

It was ugly. And sad. And it broke my heart to see.
It went on for nearly a week.

Her coat got dull.
She wasn’t eating.
She was constantly pacing the fence line.
She was getting ribby.
I did what any sane person would do in an insane position…
I put the damn breakaway back on her.
And then we worked her way back to her healthy, fat as a tick, self.
Because the second I had that crown of leather over her ears, she relaxed…

I have, in all my life, never, ever heard of a horse acting like this.
There is no precedent to follow, no training to use, no expert to help.
We were flying blind here, and I had to, simply put, listen to my horse.

Now, roughly a year and a half later, we’ve tried again.
After months (nigh onto years) of catch, love up and release.
I think, I hope, I pray to Epona…
This time, I think it has worked.


“What made me tough almost killed least that’s how I remember the story. Over the years I’ve forgotten how it was…”

We started out with her white leather halter going overtop…
Then, I undid the crown of the breakaway and dropped it.
Finally, I pulled the rest of it out and dropped it on the ground…

“But I survived and I won’t walk down the same old road that they all followed
It only leads to a life not meant for me…”

While wearing her white leather, I groomed her, cleaned her feet out, rubbed her down with bug juice…
And then came the moment of truth:

“We’re always running away and we don’t even stop to think about it
The worlds in our hands…
They don’t need to understand”

“We do it our own way, no matter what they try to say about it. We’ve got our own plans…”

“They don’t need to understand…”

And this morning?
A nickered greeting when I came out on the deck, she trotted over for her halter to go on for grooming(and a whole lotta loving ❤ ), and a relaxed, calm demeanor when I removed the halter again.
So far, so good.
She is as normal as she’s ever going to be.
That’s just fine with me.

Our musical inspiration for the day and this post:

18 thoughts on “They Don’t Need to Understand

  1. Wyldkat says:

    Way to go Cookie!

    And great job, Mom. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love wins the day!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very interesting situation I reckon horses are creatures of habit and require a slow weaning process. She is surely a beautiful horse.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Toosh says:

    Isn’t it great when we get to use our brain to make a plan for what is going to best work in a specific situation 🙂 You did it!! You AND Cookie did it! Together!!! You solved it, with alot of time. Some things can only be solved, in their own time. I hope you and Cookie celebrate your victory. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WolfSong says:

      It’s kinda been our thing, right? In her time…she’ll let me know when she’s ready. All I have to do is listen.
      We celebrated with a couple sour crab apples. 😉


  5. Wendy Herr says:

    Kudos to you for doing what is right for your horse! Thx for sharing this very interesting situation, how you assessed her, and how you worked it through. Very inspirational!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. gail says:

    dog people can be like that also. groucho would be considered autistic if he were a person. he does well with his dog family and me and is fairly well behaved after about 11 years of continual training and behavior mod. people don’t always get that we hear what our animals tell us they need. groucho doesn’t go in the yard without a drag leash – not ever. he is a different and uglier dog without it. weird but there it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WolfSong says:

      Kudos to *you* for recognizing Groucho’s needs! ❤
      Dogs and horses…no one size fits all when it comes to training and life with them, that's for sure!


  7. anne leueen says:

    Humans have all sorts of “security” blankets of one kind or another. Maybe the breakaway was that for her. Anyway you had patience and understanding and that is what matters. She is a lovely looking horse.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] In 4 years of writing this has been my most popular post… They Don’t Need to Understand […]


  9. cagedunn says:

    When a horse is afraid, and then goes to a person who cares, they also get attached to the security blankets associated with the person. dogs, kids, horses – all the same. It takes time, which is what you gave. Congrats.

    Liked by 1 person

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