No, not ‘love.’ The other one.
Are horses loyal?
It took me quite a while and a lot of thinking out loud before I figured out my opinion, which is:
Yes, with some stipulations.
I don’t think it’s the same kind of loyalty as given by Man’s Best Friend. Most dogs are unconditionally loyal and loving, or have allegiances that are easily won by the right bribe. It’s usually food. I think they have a pretty simple, “You did something for me, therefore I love you” outlook.
Food and bribery might work to get a horse’s attention, but I also think that it’s the food that they love, not whose hands are delivering it.
With horses, it’s something different. It’s an allegiance won out of respect and trust.
My pony will come running to anyone that rattles the right feed can. Doesn’t mean she likes them or will give them the time of day once the food is gone. (And she usually doesn’t.)
But she willingly comes to me, no treats or bribes required, knowing that coming to me almost always means work. And she does it. Happily.
To me, that says, “Loyal.”
The things she’s done for me…I’ve asked her to do stuff I probably have no right to ask. And she does it. Because I believe she trusts me. I’ve tried very hard not to ask her to do what she can’t do, or to put her in a situation that breaks that trust.
My reward is that I can trust her to do what I ask.
The end result of that sort of trusting partnership is a mutual respect. I don’t let her get into bad situations, she does her best to take care of me.
That sounds pretty loyal.
Maybe I’m just anthropomorphizing (Yes, I just used that work before 7 o’clock in the morning. Never mind I had to look up how to spell it, and I have a hard time actually saying it…), but loyalty is one of those qualities I hold in very high regard, so maybe this is just my wishful thinking impressing that upon my beloved animals that are such a huge part of my life.
If that’s the case, there could be far worse things in this world to be delusional about.
Or maybe, to some degree, I’m right.
(Mimi, please keep this in mind next time we part company and you’re deciding whether or not to leave my pathetic butt on the ground and head for the hills or not.)