Horses, the way to a dialogue

Hiking and encounters with free grazing horses

September 15, 2018

I’ve all the time being respectful, never very confident, of horses roaming free the mountain ranges; so wild, free, strong. Sometimes it happened that one of them, clearly the dominant of a group, approached me with decision and a clear message: you are not welcome here; and I had to go. In other circumstances, I also approached other kind of horses, but anyway, keeping a sense of awe, never being very confident.
During one of my lonely hikes in the Apennine mountains, I experimented a different feeling, after meeting two herds of free range horses.

A hike and two encounters

The first encounter was close to tiny lake Bozzo, that they used to drink and bath. In the beginning, my approach was cautious; the horses felt it and run to the other side of the lake. I also followed the banks, and then simply sat, like in a sit spot, drinking my juice and watching them, every now and then. I was simply sharing the space, taking my time, and enjoying the sun, just like they were doing. We stayed together, calm, watching each other with interest and curiosity, until I went away.
Continuing my walk, after a couple of hours, I reached the top ridge of mount Fontanini, a horse grazing area. I sat down in a clearing, to have the possibility of choosing either sun or shade, while having my light lunch. After a while, I heard the sound of the bells of the horses approaching. In general I do not like to have those heavy animals around since after lunch I take some rest; other times they came, risking to make a mess of my things laying on the ground.
Instead this time no, I decided not to go away. I, on the contrary, simply assumed to be a part of the place, exactly as the horse were. I finished my lunch, then my rest, with them all the time around, quietly doing their things. When I went away, I crossed the herd and they stayed quiet. I waved them good bye, continuing along the open ridge.
Maybe my nature connection improved, so that I could better communicate with horses. Or, maybe, I by chance found particularly available horses? I will test myself again.

The horses at lake Bozzo

The group of horses grazing at mount Fontanini

Memories of previous communications

Once home, it came to my mind that something was perhaps already going on. I remembered a day, late January, when I descended from Foce di Torsana, a high pass in the Apennines, with a strong pain in my right foot; it took forever and I was down almost at sunset. Because of the pain, I was really challenged and needed to communicate with someone. Just before reaching the village of Comano Castello again, I passed by a horse paddock, with some horses inside; they were very dirty, because of the muddy ground. One of them came to the fence. I approached him the usual way, trying to touch his head with my hand.

My fiend, the horse at Comano

As a result, he shook his head, did not want to be touched, but yet searching for an approach. He leant his head out of the fence trying to sniff me: that was his way ! As a matter of fact, they cannot touch us, so they do like our hand contact.
In response, I approached my head to its one, cautiously letting him sniffing my face. As a result, an immediate feeling was established. I stayed for some time, during which fatigue and pain were faded, then I was sad to go; perhaps the horse as well.
When I tried again this experience with very clean and noble race horses at the hippodrome of Cesena, it worked exactly the same way. In addition, I learnt that horses like to use their taste sense, as well, for a getting to know. But, in this case, some caution is needed: their teeth are big and strong and a friendly bite can turn to be quite dangerous !

Free grazing horses. Filippo D’Antuono. All rights reserved.