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He has warm brown eyes, a goofy personality, and perky ears that twitch in response to change. He is an individual that fulfills an invaluable role in my life, and while it might be a bold statement, I would venture as far as to say that he is one of the few individuals that knows me—and the entirety of my personality it entails—the best. And who is he? My horse, Levi. In the most basic sense, the mere amount of time that we have spent together rivals that of nearly all of my close friends and falls only behind that of my parents and sister: in a seemingly monotonous routine, my horse and I have met nearly six times per week three years in a row now.

But more so than the length of time in each other’s company, the true intimacy of the relationship between the horse and the rider stems from the inherent transparency in the communication. In contrast to face to face conversations, in which it is easy to place an opaque veil over your face and stifle the tone of your voice to mask your true emotions, no such facades exist when communicating with your horse. When riding, it is impossible to conceal your inner emotions from manifesting through your intricate movements and your overall aura that the horse is doubtlessly privy to. In interpersonal relationships, there are always those days when you would rather not interact directly with the one another. It’s possible to neglect direct confrontation: there are subtle cues—darting your gaze to avoid eye contact, or even speaking solely with others in the room—that allow for these blips in relationships with other people. However, in horseback riding, there are no moments like these. There is no room to hide away or avert interaction. Every time that I meet with my horse, it is a one-on-one conversation, and as a result, he has seen the totality of my moods. He has been forced to interact with and respond to my moments of irritation, frustration, fear, and lack of patience. Even with close family and friends, I make a conscious effort to withhold such sentiments, but with my horse, it is nearly impossible. In a similar way, I am likewise always acutely aware of the daily undulations in his personality and mood.

Out of this transparency stems an ebb and flow of unyielding forgiveness. Even after a day that ends in defeat—our mutual frustration and impatience combat in an ineffective way that leaves us both fuming and fed up with each other—we both return the next day free from the shadows of yesterday’s argument.  

Coupled with forgiveness, a profound level of trust lies embedded within the relationship between my horse and me. Horses are large, powerful animals, and every day I consciously question whether I will let this daunt me or whether I will see through the imposing appearance, understanding his true personality within. Even though I am familiar with his gentleness and forgiveness, there is always this moment of hesitation when I acknowledge that fact that I am entrusting him with my personal safety. And yet, the time that I have spent with him never fails to console these worries, and I am overcome with trust in his personality and our relationship. Conversely, we both know when the other lacks this trust. Either I will tense and freeze in uncertainty to a shift in his bounding gait, or he will ignore my aid in disagreement and distrust in my cues or motives. I have no other—or at least, very few other—relationships that as all-encompassing or transparent as the relationship that I have with my horse. We have seen each the totality of each other’s personality and have hurtled through some of our most trying times together. And for these reasons, my horse knows me better than anyone else.

 

Image Credit: Tate Serletti

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