Channeling My Inner Horse Whisperer

I’m one of those people who has a way with horses. I’m terrified of them, and they know it.

I love horses. Or rather I love the results of their hay consumption and how it helps build my sandy soil. So I do spend some time around them.

I was thinking about horses recently because of an incident in a nearby city. A young person, perhaps with the help of spirited beverages, decided to slap a police horse. No really, they did this. They were probably egged on by people nearby. So they slapped the horse, but showing a complete lack of self preservation, they slapped it on its hindquarters. Really? You slapped a horse there?

And the horse, even though it is one of those amazing crowd-control trained horses, still managed to aim a good kick at the butt slapper.

I have learned from my time around horses that they know exactly how you feel about them. Show them who’s boss and they will do exactly what you want … most of the time. Fear them, and they will treat you like dirt … or a play toy … whichever comes first.

From time to time I have helped to look after my neighbor’s horses when she was away. This often meant getting them from the barn, across an unfenced lane to a paddock where they would spend the day, and then leading then back into the barn again at night. A real horse person would make it very clear to them exactly how things were going to go down, and discipline them verbally if they got off track. I bribed them with oats and I even did that poorly. I wore steel toed work boots, my chain saw pants and several layers of bulky jackets to hopefully absorb some of the shock of a kick, but the horses still knew they were in control. And why wouldn’t they? They’re about 2,000 lbs. heavier than me.

Yet somehow this same neighbor is able to jump into horse trailers the size of a small bathroom, wearing shorts and sandals, with 4 of these monsters, and uses Jedi mind tricks to get them to do exactly what she wants. This just isn’t fair, but like my inability to make it to an NHL team, I have accepted my limitation.

Recently I was over at my neighbours’ to retrieve the horse manure trailer (a happy time for me). The horses were in the barn, but they didn’t seem too interested in me, just a passing, dismissive glance out the windows when I arrived. But for some reason, on this particular day, once I got the truck hooked on to the trailer, they decided to investigate. And so 4 or 5 lumbering, Tyrannosaurus Rex-sized monsters were clustered around the truck investigating my presence.


Jasper the Wonder Dog thought it was awesome … like Jurassic Park, only he got to watch from the inside of the truck cab, although my window was down and it’s amazing how far a horse can get itself into your truck when it wants.

Eventually I was able to squeeze myself back inside and slowly drive over towards the gate. But on this day, the horses had decided I would not be leaving the compound unescorted. Whether due to boredom or just some horsey mind trick they blocked the exit and showed no signs of moving.

So out I waded into the sea of towering extremely dangerous horses to try and coax them out of the way. First I tried the gentle, calm verbal persuasion technique. They didn’t even acknowledge my presence. Then I started with the friendly face rubs and firmer “Time to head back to the barn” talk, which got me nowhere.

They had decided that something about my Ford Ranger was extremely attractive and 4 (or 5?) horses were licking the truck hood, sticking their heads into the window, examining the truck bed and checking out the manure trailer. Now, they could have examined the manure trailer any time during the previous weeks but suddenly because I was trying to leave with it they were intrigued. Really? You have to do that now?


All my finagling is premised on never, EVER getting near the kick zone of one of these beasts, which just slows the process to a dead crawl. Finally, because Alyce wasn’t there I asked another neighbour who often looks after the horses to help. He came down and was able, with great difficulty, to finally cajole them out of the way, and to allow me to exit the gate, which he closed behind me.

I’m pretty sure alcohol must have been involved in the horse slapping incident, because no one in their right mind does that. I’m pretty sure our DNA contains the same intrinsic warnings about the potential harm from a horse’s rear section, as it does about snakes. If it is slithers on its belly and hisses, proceed with caution.

A local radio station suggested that punishment for this slap could include cleaning up the horse stable. And I wondered, is that punishment? I love these places. That’s where the best soil supplement you’ll ever get comes from.

Michelle and I seem to have spent much of our lives enjoying activities that society sees as punishment or deprivation. You hear about prisoners living on ‘bread and water.’  I can’t count the number of times Michelle has made a fresh loaf of bread, and along with a glass of our awesome well water, provides our lunch. It’s fabulous. Why is this problematic? Shoveling horse manure as punishment? And this is punishment because….?


My time around horses has taught me a great new respect for any movie I see with legions of horses riding at high speed. This is an extremely dangerous activity and one viewers should be (but I don’t think usually are) in awe of.

When Hollywood comes calling, which it will, when the world has grown tired of Ryan Gosling, and Ryan Reynolds and all those other Canadian imports, and they want me to finally step up and fill the void, my contract will emphatically specify that some nudity is fine, but nothing to do with horses. Unless the horse is animatronic like at Disney World or the role requires the cleaning and shoveling of a horse stall. This is what careers are made of.  (And great raspberry patches!)


Thanks to PB for his recent generosity. Thank you for not only expressing your gratitude in a comment but with a donation as well. Both were much appreciated!

2 Responses to “Channeling My Inner Horse Whisperer”

  • The sum total of my experience riding a horse is this … being hoisted up one side of the gargantuan beast, and immediately sliding down the other side. Horses and I agree we’re better off friends – with distance. 🙂

  • I’m afraid of horses too…. especially after one stepped on my mom’s foot when I was younger and I watched her scream bloody murder!

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Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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