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Many of these blogs I wrote some time ago and appeared on my old website. Please ignore the date is says it was published. Enjoy. 

Friendships

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Do we love our horses unconditionally? Or do we love them for what they can do or give us? Is our relationship with our horse based upon conditions? It got me thinking of what it means to be a friend to our horse.

What Are Friendships?

We are driven as a species to be social, so too are equines. We are driven to seek out meaningful relationships. Friendships form a basis of how we engage with our fellow man. In the modern world there are many types of friendships we experience in our lives: from soul companions, true integrity friendships, very close meaningful friendships, childhood friendships, best friends, activity based friendships, old friends, new friends and social media friends….the list can go on. Each friendship is different. It got me thinking, what do we base our friendships on? What sort of friend are we to each other and our horse?

They say you miss something or someone when it has gone. So true. My dear friend Sue died this year, she was a true integrity friend. She never judged me. She always stepped in when others would leave. She accepted me for who I was, my flaws and weaknesses she never tried to change me. She accepted my beliefs and values as I did hers. We may not have seen the world the same way but we respected each other’s opinions. We would agree to disagree and hold no hard feelings. Our friendship was not based on being on the same page. We could go periods without seeing each other and be totally comfortable in our friendship and drop back together with ease. I trusted Sue as she was dependable. She made me feel significant, special and I mattered to her. We had a friendship that lasted over 40 years and never over that time did we hurt each other. As at the heart of our friendship was thoughtful, open, honest, respectful communication. We placed a high value on our friendship so we placed being kind to each other above anything else. We encouraged each other. We shared many happy times, enjoyed sharing stories, listening to future plans and supporting each other. During my cancer treatment Sue was there, she helped me get back on my feet. As did my family, other friends, Kez and Marley.  

Sadly as a species man is also driven to want things. Sometimes this is what other people or a horse can give us. And this can create friendships based on conditions. Here lies the problem, what if one side of that friendship can no longer meet the conditions of the friendship? I have been on the receiving end of this many times, as I am sure have you at some point in your life. The reactions and behaviour you experience from the friend who had placed conditions on your friendship when you can no longer meet up to what they want from the friendship can be at best hurtful and at worst end the relationship. Here you will learn if the friendship is based on conditions or a true integrity friendship. If it is a true integrity friendship they will see they have hurt you and it will really matter to them. Many a time I have apologized for hurting someone, I will acknowledge their feelings and the hurt I have accidently caused. I will do this before I explain myself and my actions. Sadly I have been hurt by people who have not given an apology, then I know the friendship is a conditional arrangement. It is then no surprize that they don’t care when I walk away.

It got me thinking I am a good friend? To my horse Kez, I can answer yes. Because I love him for who he is not for what he can give me. He was purchased for my husband and I to share to ride. However that dream was not to happen. Kez has conditions that mean riding is not for him. We love him for who he is and it is an opportunity to enter his world and enjoy a relationship without riding being on the agenda. A friendship with a horse can be profound and life changing. And Kez has certainly changed my life.

Am I a good friend with other humans? That is debatable, as going through cancer treatment and living with the cancer gun pointed at my head has changed me. I am still to some degree finding myself and I know I am work in progress. I recognise I am less able to take on other people’s stress and pressure. Scratch my surface, it is a thin layer of coping and under you will find self-preservation kicking in. So on reflection I am probably not a good friend right now as I have so little I can give to friends who have conditions attached.         

For us we get over the hurt, pain and loss of broken relationships and move on. For a horse that can no longer meet the conditions of the friendship / partnership with the human it can have serious implications. It is no surprize that we have an equine crisis as for many people having a horse in their life has conditions attached. This and we live in a quick fix world with a throw away attitude. Throw into the mix overbreeding of low value equines. Plus the lack of seeing the value of non ridden equines. They are not worthless. All this creates the perfect storm.  As humans we are free to make choices over our friendships with each other. A horse has no choice over who is its’ owner or control over the type of friendship the owner wants with it or what conditions the owner attaches. So I go back to the start of this blog as to what type of friendship do we have with our horses?

Kez Catherine Slade

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