I learnt something new about myself recently. As I’ve previously quite enthusiastically written about… I’ve been living in Wales, in a shepherd’s hut, amongst the company of far many more horses than people. I thought this kind of life was the life for me; I’d much rather spend my days in the company of horses than people anyway, and here was a chance for me to truly delve into the academic side of my passion and hone my skills.
With the talented trainer (who I was there to learn from) working away elsewhere a lot of the time, two unexpected strands of thought began to weave themselves together in my mind in the hours spent alone watching over and growing close to the 26 horses on site.
The first being that so, so, so many aspects of the modern horse world and the imbalance of the horse-human relationship in domestication in general, really, truly hurts me right at the level of my soul. The second being that, like the herd animals I was spending every waking minute with, I am, in fact, a social creature. I don’t just like people, I actually need them too. I realise that I am not quite the lone wolf that I thought I was. It’s only taken me the last 5 years of living in various degrees of remoteness in different corners of the world to realise that!
So in light of those two revelations I have moved back to a place where I most definitely feel at home, to be in amongst friends and thinkers and movers and shakers, in Edinburgh. This young filly needs variety, you see, and I hope this location will allow me to create a reality full of it. Faolan and Ossian are grazing with the backdrop of the purple Pentlands, and I’m feeling super dedicated to developing a horse-human relationship of balance and bright eyes and, most importantly, an intact spirit.
Through some of my most brilliant school pals, I have found myself already feeling part of a community of people who are questioning our role on the planet and leading lives of integrity. The desire to change antiquated worldviews is almost impossible to develop as just one individual, but together our collective desires don’t seem so intangible.
I heard recently that it has been made illegal to keep a horse on its own in Sweden (I could kiss you for this, Sweden). I hope this spreads worldwide during the course of my life. Loneliness is a drain on the spirit. Humans and horses alike; they say we are living in ‘the age of loneliness’, and the mental health of the world is clearly in crises. We lead sedentary lives. Lives structured around ‘work’ and hours upon hours in isolation, between four walls, separated from the natural world. We lack the deep social connections that our ancestors seemingly had. Our lives can easily seem meaningless and mechanised.
Visit a stable and observe the horses. Their fantastic heads, filled with the same material and emotion as their free-roaming ancestors, sticking out one by one over neat little doors placed on the front of neat little concrete boxes. Alone. Their only movement is work. Their very worth is defined by their work. They have stomach ulcers and behavioural problems caused by anxiety and unnatural diet. Don’t they miss the touch of other members of their own species? Are their minds whole without the intricacy of social bonding? Do they have the spark of spirit in their eyes, the spark that first drew humans to horses in the first place?
In our interactions with each other, human or equine or otherwise, it is this spark that we must fiercely protect and nurture. Re-kindling that collective spark is what the world needs right now. I’m excited about this next chapter and sooo grateful to be in an environment where I can explore these ideas further. Ciao for now XX