Sometimes Annie loves to hug and cuddle – sometimes she doesn’t want to be touched. It’s all okay! As long as I don’t take it personally…

A horse’s body is hers to rule – she gets to decide what she does and does not want done to it – how she does and does not want to be touched. We need to respect how she feels and what she says about her personal space. Annie is a great teacher of this lesson – while we post many photos of cuddles and kisses, Annie only likes to be touched when she feels respected, honored, and up for it. She is not the type of horse that strangers can run up to and hug – that would feel like quite the violation to her. Her close physical affection is given out like a gift. In many ways, I am so grateful for Annie’s particularly – she has taught me great respect for the body of a horse, pushing me to always ask permission, even just to touch. This has helped me earn the trust and affection of so many horses much more quickly.

Sometimes however, with Annie particularly, if I am feeling a lack of self confidence or a lack of self worth, I find myself seeking her attention and physical affection as a way to validate myself. When this happens, I start to get needy; this causes Annie to pull her body away, and my already low self esteem at that moment suffers the rejection.

When I’m feeling desperate and in need of exterior validation, I sometimes verge on begging for Annie’s attention. I want to hug her neck and kiss her nose, but the more desperate I become, the less she wants to participate in these things. The more desperate I am to love on her because I need her to validate me as a person, the less she wants to be touched – the more she pulls away. It’s not that she doesn’t love me, but she is very sensitive to intention and energy. When I get into this needy state, I’m actually not very focused on my loving feelings for her – it would seem I’m more focused on seeking exterior forces to tell me I’m worthy. The underlying energy here feels frantic and unstable.

When I am feeling great about myself and do not need the validation, I come in with a purer desire to love her, no expectations. In these moments, Annie is so much more likely to come up to me and happily & enthusiastically give me kisses, hugs, cuddles, and scratches. The energy between these two approaches is so different. When I’m feeling love for myself and who I am, I am able to focus more on the love I feel for others rather than the love (or lack of) I am receiving/feeling at the time. We can get so consumed in our need validation that we lose touch with the love we actually feel, both for and from others.

"Obsession is not love,

Infatuation is not love,

When someone ignores you

Or treats you poorly, carelessly,

Or with indifference

that's not love -

That's a lack of love

For yourself, for trying to fill

Your missing pieces with theirs

But when someone is whole

And you are whole

And you act in kindness and benevolence, vulnerability

Through strength,

Love becomes an exchange

With another person -

And that is

It's truest form."

Atticus, Love Her Wild

It can feel hurtful when I am feeling low about myself and Annie pulls away; in my already compromised state, the rejection has a bit more sting. However, I believe it’s one of the greatest lessons Annie can give me in that moment, because it teaches me the incredibly important lesson that we cannot truly find love, acceptance, and self worth solely outside of ourselves – it must first be discovered, cultivated, and built from within. If we want to be accepted and accept others, we must first accept ourselves. If we want to feel loved and love others with deep compassion, then we must love ourselves exactly as we are. When we stop trying to fill our seemingly “missing pieces” with another, whether human or horse, and instead discover our own fullness, we are able to really love the ones we care about in the purest way.

It is so easy to take “rejection” from a horse or a person deeply to heart – the less love we feel for ourselves, the more crushing it is. If we do not know our own worth, when a horse rejects us, we take it personally. I know I certainly have. Horses know when we are desperate for validation and when we feel unworthy, and often times, the more needy we are, the more we need them to validate our self worth, the more distance the horse demands. If we take this personally, we may live our lives feeling rejected and terrible about who we are – but that is not the lesson of the horse. It may seem counter to how the rejection feels, but furthering feelings of unworthiness is not the point they are trying to get across. Quite the opposite actually

The lesson of the horse is to accept ourselves fully – to love ourselves fully – to be ourselves fully. Once we do, the horses are naturally drawn to our spirit. Horses like Annie don’t validate us when we are feeling unworthy or needy of false validation – they want us to know and never doubt our own worth. They don’t want us looking to other people or animals to judge our worthiness – if we gauge our worth based on the opinion of others, we are susceptible to the constant up and downs of ever-changing opinions. As easily as someone can inflate us, someone can rip us down and destroy our self view. We are at the whim of the opinions around us – as unsteady, fluctuating, and irrelevant as they may be. If you do not know your own worth, when someone says “I love and accept you for all you are”, you may never fully trust this from them or believe them. If you do not know your own worth, when someone rejects you or says terrible things to you, you may believe them full heartedly.

If you do not know your own worth, you are subject to an ever changing sea of opinions and judgements that ultimately are not about you – merely projections of others thrust upon you by people who also may not feel good enough. It’s not a very stable way to live, and the horses know it.

Horses love who we are – they want to see us in our truest form – they want to see the authentic, weird, beautiful you. YOU – are worthy. YOU – deserve love, they say.

The horse wants us to know: we are deserving. We are deserving of acceptance, forgiveness, and love.

From others yes… but firstly, from yourself.

We have permission to feel all of these things for ourselves.
You are enough, just as you are, and no one needs to validate that except you.

It’s in moments like these when horses really mirror us and show us the aspects of ourselves that need love and care – if we don’t feel worthy, they mirror that feeling right back at us. They give us an opportunity to see ourselves more clearly and grow. This insight is invaluable. If we listen to the lessons of the horse, it can change our lives. The lesson here is to bring in more self love. It’s a beautiful message if you think about it, and a fundamental one of the horse.

The more we accept and love ourselves, the closer the horses want to be to us. They are attracted to our confident self love. However, I know it’s often times easier said than done to feel deep self love… I really understand that. At times, it can be hard to cultivate, so we need to be so kind with ourselves when building our self love and acceptance back up.

How can we cultivate love for ourselves? How can we bring our compassion and kindness inwards? It can be so hard to treat ourselves with compassion and love… even if we would easily accept our “flaws” and mistakes in a close friend, often times we find ourselves (and only ourselves) undeserving. Undeserving of acceptance – undeserving of forgiveness – undeserving of love. So many of us harbor guilt and feelings of unworthiness inside, perhaps where no one sees.

It’s my thought that the first thing we need to do is be gentle – be gentle with ourselves. It’s a one-step-at-a-time process. Acceptance for who and where we are right now in this moment is key.
Not when I start doing X , not when I change X about myself, not when I reach X goal – right now, as I am, it’s enough.

Gently learning accept all aspects of who you are, “good” and “bad”, right now in this present moment… it’s a wonderful beginning.

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12 Comments

  1. Laima

    Thank you! This rings so true, my darling Vetra is very similar to Annie in this aspect and it really does feels horrible to sometimes be rejected by her…makes me doubt myself even more. I keep reminding myself not to take it personally. You managed to put into words the ponderings I have felt about this issue…thank you again!

    Reply
  2. Zara Smile

    So true and beautifully written! We are our own worst critic.
    I am in the process of relearning how to love and accept myself as I am. I know now that I’m making progress thanks to how the horses behave towards me. Lately, I have noticed a big difference in how Princessa, a horse that had always showed indifference towards me, has started to run to the fence when she sees me arrive at the therapuetic riding/Equine therapy stables. She even let me pet her and just “be” with her! Even the stable manager was surprised. After reading this I realized I need to use this same approach/mindset while riding. Thank you so much for sharing this 💕

    Reply
  3. Alyssa Farrelly

    This post came in at the perfect time for me and my Horses relationship. Lately I’d been spending less time with her and more focusing on my human relationships as my life kind of got thrown out of wack as did my emotions/sense of self. I went to a dark place for a short while and I just really really got down on myself… because of this I’d noticed a distance growing within my relationship with Alia (my lovely mare) and at the time I wasn’t sure why. She’d stopped answering to my calls for her when I was able to see her. Even began moving away from me and choosing other horses in the pasture over me when I had time to see/be with her. It was/is incredibly disheartening. However, reading this post has me reflecting upon the last week or two thinking about my emotions and feelings and what kind of place was I in when I’d go to see her. I’ve now realized that my self loathing had really begun consuming my thoughts and eating away at me. Other times when I’d go see her and I’d call for her thinking back my intention wasn’t totally pure an more of a “oh gosh I hope she comes to me so the new worker sees that my horse loves me and I know what I’m doing”. I put that pressure upon myself and ultimately upon her and I feel terrible for doing so now having truly thought into it. I realize now I need to be more mindful with my thoughts and actions when it comes to her pure soul even more so than I thought I was being before. I must also ground myself and find that self love that I’d finally grown attached to then just thrown away during a bad time. Thank you for sharing Annie’s teachings and for really opening up with your audience. I always have such an appreciation for your incredibly thought out and thought provoking post.

    Reply
  4. Claire

    Beautiful Mosie! Love that you’re doing a blog post every week! Can’t wait to read the next one:) xo

    Reply
  5. Sandy

    This was one of your best post yet, love it, and so very true.

    Reply
  6. Raquel

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting this into words! They had such a strong impact on me it actually made me cry, and I think I might have really needed for someone to tell me this, to confirm what I have been feeling. Thank you!

    Reply
  7. Sharolyn

    Beautifully written !

    Reply
  8. Sara

    Beautiful photos of you and Annie, I so agree with what you say Mosie, it’s not the horses or anyone’s job to fill in our void, we have to by loving and accepting ourselves. Great article!

    Reply
  9. Poppy

    Thank you for sharing this truth!! A wonderful article which I can completely relate to with myself and my mare! 🦄💜

    Reply
  10. Alyssa

    Thank you so much I really needed this post. Whenever my horse rejects me I always wonder why it weighs so heavy on my conscience, now I realize that it hurts so badly because I’m already in that needy state of mind desperately seeking his validation. When I approach him on a good day with confidence he shows an abundance of interest in me, silently teaching me to be more confident in myself. Thank you for putting this into words, horses are amazing!

    Reply
  11. Ági

    I really liked this post and I feel the same way about self love and the horses’ attitude towards us, but I would like to know how do you ask for permession to touch the horse? I really like the idea, and the mindset behind it. However, I have never met anyone who has done this, so I can’t really imagine how to do it. Maybe it is something that seems to be a basic thing for others, but it’s quite a new idea for me. Could you, or anyone reading this explain to me? 🙂

    Reply
  12. Annie

    This article contains so much validation for me. Months and months ago I was feeling so low, probably the lowest of my life and there are horses here that I volunteer to care for here overseas. I went to them and brought them treats as usual but they would not even come up to me. At one point, the horse that I had once felt the closest to bit me so hard, it created a bruise the size of a grapefruit. I got in my car and I cried and cried and cried, and I never went back. I recently found a feather, two actually yesterday and I got lost in YouTube about the meaning. It mentioned horses, and how hanging out with horses can help you grow so much spiritually. It even suggested that they will only love you when you love yourself. So I found your article online. I am nearly to tears with how grateful I feel having finally realized the lesson. Thank you so much for this beautiful article, it potentially changed my life.

    Reply

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