This is the woolly brained boy’s salt lick. Unfortunately he didn’t understand it. I hung it in his stable and he ignored it. I assumed he’d investigate it eventually, but when a week had passed and he still hadn’t touched it, I came to the conclusion he needed teaching about what it was.
I tried dangling it under his nose, but that just confused him, so I wet my hand, rubbed it on the salt and then on his lips until he started licking his lips and then my hand with great enthusiasm. I find his tongue surprisingly cute, pink and clean-looking and it tickled a lot. Gradually I put my hand closer to the lick until he was licking it instead of me, but when I took my hand away he was still looking for the hand rather than the lick. I had to hide my hand behind my back and then it finally clicked that he could lick the salt directly and there was no stopping him… to the extent that I asked a member of staff if she’d keep a special eye on his water staying full in case he had too much salt and drank much more than usual!
Being licked by my horse like this gave me great joy. Most of the things that happen in a horse-human relationship are intended to be for the benefit or improvement of the horse, but for once we were doing something where it gave him immediate pleasure to do what I wanted. It was probably the most joyous and “together” moments we’ve had so far.
Some of the other horse-bloggers I read have been writing on similar topics recently* – it’s important for horses and their people to have time together that’s free from the “wanting” thinking that “gets things done” and have time together that is (as Fromthehorsesmouth says) undemanding. Our horses manage to remind us of this, if we’re listening, but it’s hard to find the time. Life in this society makes most of us time-poor and pushes us into a mind-set of getting as much done in a day as we can. This is tough on our horses but also tough on us. We all need to take time with all of our relationships, not just to maintain the daily chores and the things we “should” do, but to just be together taking pleasure in something together, whatever that may be. I’m not advocating spending an evening with your partner licking salt off each other’s hands (although whatever floats your boat…) but how many of our human relationships are suffering because of this mindset which puts the chores first and enjoying something together a distant second?
This seems to have turned into quite a serious post. It wasn’t supposed to. It was supposed to be a light-hearted sharing of a moment in which my horse and I experienced pleasure together, with a little “aaaah” about him not being able to work out what the salt lick was. It’s another moment in the journey, another lesson I take on my path, but it’s also simply a joyful moment together. The path is made up of moments – let’s not forget to make some of them happy times and not just a succession of chores.