Time outside is time well spent

One of the fantastic things about horses is that they force you spend much of your time outside. More so than other animals. Dogs you can walk outside for an hour, and then lie on the sofa with for the rest of the day. But horses require you to be outside for large portions of the day, they need feeding, their rugs changing, turning out, mucking out, bringing in, love, attention and fuss. They can use up your whole day, fill it with things to do, hanging around in the outside.

The benefit of being in the outdoors is well-documented, it restores mental well-being, reduces stress, reconnects us with nature, restores us, being physically active is good for our health, it improve our functions, improves our sleep, improves our stress levels. It’s basically like gold dust!

Horses, regardless of what we do with them, are good for us. The hours of being with them are soothing and relaxing. Riding them is merely co-incidental, a by-product even. At the moment, more than ever, we need our pockets of time in order to de-stress, to breath in and out, to simply be.

Horses are our outlets, our respite, our link to another quieter, softer, saner world. Just being there with them in their presence is soothing and cleanses our souls. They are the best of doctors, the greatest of therapists. In a time when so much has been taken away from us, we are left with our animals, and the great outdoors.

Whatever you do today, whether you are working on the frontline, homeschooling, attempting to keep your head above the water, make sure you spend time outside. No matter no busy you are, or how bad the weather is, that is the best thing that you can do for yourself, spend time outdoors, in nature, breathing in and out, waiting for this time to pass.

Why we love our animals…

We love our animals, they are always so pleased to see us. Our dogs bark manically spinning in excitement and rejoicing in pleasure at seeing us again. Our horses wicker, snuffling against our cheeks, their whiskers tickling us. Some say; animals only love us because we feed them. I don’t agree. They love us in a much more straight-forward way. Our bonds with our animals is so much less complex than our bonds with people.

Relationships with people are more layered, more convoluted. Often we are related to them, some we chose for love, but our lives are clouded over by the stress of work, money, illness, so the love is pushed down, hidden over. But with our animals it doesn’t matter. Stressed? Hug a pony. Bad day at work? Hug a dog. Boss shouted at you? Stroke your cat. Works every time.

Animals are also the best outlet at Christmas. I love Christmas, I love seeing my family, but it can get a bit overwhelming, you can need a break. Popping out to walk the dog even for half an hour can give you a vital break from the festive fun. Christmas day hacks are delightful, especially in the morning when the roads can be wonderfully quiet.

Exercise is also the perfect counterpart to the endless eating and drinking that goes on over Christmas and can leave us feeling grumpy and lethargic. Even in dismal weather, wrap up warm, and get outside, you will feel better. And the best thing about animals is you have no excuses they have to be exercised, cared for, hugged, chatted to. So when the world is getting a bit much, when you long for peace and quiet and the wind in your face, rain on your back, get outside, take your dog for a walk, your horse for a hack and then when you come home again you will relish the warmth, the company and the cheer.

It’s only…

How many times have you heard the words “it’s only a horse” or “it’s only a dog”? Quite a few I would imagine, and those words are just as ridiculous every time you hear them. Yes, horses, dogs, cats, parrots (other pets are available!) are not human, but it doesn’t mean our connection to them is any less important, or any less deep. In fact, I have more conversations some days with my dog than other humans. She listens better as well!

Saying goodbye to humans and animals is always hard, the advantage with animals is that we can end their suffering, when we believe the time is right, whereas humans we have to wait while they wend their ways through their final days.

The love we feel for our animals is no smaller than the love we feel for people, it is often far less complicated. Grief around people dying is often entangled with guilt or anger, whereas animals don’t generally invoke such emotions, you simply feel sadness.

But grief is the price we pay for love, so part of the relationship with our animals must include grief at the end, else the relationship would not be the same. If we didn’t love our animals we wouldn’t grieve when then they died, but then we wouldn’t have enjoyed those years of fun. Terrible though grief, it is in fact a small price for the years of love. The alternative is not to love, and that would make the world a sad and lonely place.

The love you feel for your dog, horse, parrot is just as valid as the love you feel for a person. The one does not diminish the other, and an animal is never just a dog, or just a horse. They are the recipients of your love.