Last week I read an article about a recent discovery that horses talk to us.
Supposedly dogs and horses are the two animals that try to "talk" to us, using their language. Dogs are pretty obvious about signaling their desires - dropping balls at our feet and rolling over onto their backs for belly rubs. Horses have a more subtle language. You have to listen closely and pay attention. Some horses are very verbal. Lucy tells me where and how she wants to be scratched, and when riding she lets me know if I'm too tense.
Jackson can relay to me the condition of his feet just by the way he looks at me in the mornings. If he gives me a hard stare, without moving, they hurt. Many of us have had the experience of walking out to see our horse and having them lift a foot that hurts and look at us with that "help me" look.
Which brings me to Tex. He falls into the category of horses who have never been heard by humans, who have been bullied, and as a result have stopped trying to communicate. When I stand with Tex in the pasture, I listen to him. Initially, he didn't say much of anything other than "cookie, please." Next he started watching me intently, I felt him inviting me to go to him and that invitation remained until I got a few feet away. Then he shut down and backed away. Lately, the invitation has remained open and I can enter his space and stand there with him.
I added another element to our conversation in the past week. I'm asking him to tell me where he likes to be rubbed. Is it your withers? Or the front of your neck, maybe? How about on your back? He didn't say anything at first and then I noticed a slight wiggle in his lower lip when I rubbed below his wither. We built on it the next day and he not only wiggled his lip, he turned his head and looked at me. He looked pleased and a bit surprised that I understood.
He also let me rest my forehead against his neck for a nano second. It's such a small thing but it meant the world to me.