A few months ago I ended up on some horse-related message board that appeared to be a big draw for young girls. The hottest topic for 11-13 year old equestrians? Bonding with your horse. Some girls were very anxious about how they could bond with a horse they ride once a week in lessons, especially considering that other kids rode this same schoolie as well. So how could they create the biggest, strongest bond with this horse? And what was the quickest way to do it? And how could they prove their bond was stronger than anyone else's?
I'll hazard to say that the bonding they were talking about is the romanticized, unrealistic type you see in movies, usually where a kid who knows nothing about horses magically tames some wild, unbroken stallion within 4 days simply by staring deeply into his eyes and stroking his muzzle to earn his trust. Obviously that is ridiculous, but I find it interesting that these kids are so into the concept of creating the mystical bond with a horse. Even more than that, they view it as sort of a competition or as bragging rights.
I guess I was thinking about all this and thinking of Marve. Obviously, relationships develop between humans and horses. Every now and then I'll think back to the Arabian mare I had as a child and get teary-eyed because I miss her so much. She was soulful and kind and gentle and intelligent. I loved her and I know she loved me.
But when I think over all the horses horses I've ridden or cared for, I don't think of the B-word. And that includes, to some extent, Mae and Marve.
It could be a simple time issue. I only had about 4 months with Mae, and I definitely felt more strongly connected to her by the end of the lease. And I'd wager that Marve and I definitely have more of a relationship now, about 7 months in. But I also don't feel particularly connected to Marve, and I guess that makes me feel guilty, and as if I should be working harder on it. (Hm, do they do couples counseling for people and their horses? Also, could this post get any weirder?)
Could part of it be that I'm still occasionally afraid of him? Or the fact that he doesn't have the best ground manners and isn't always the most pleasant horse to be around? Don't get me wrong, he definitely has a funny personality, and he likes to play and be goofy. But while sometimes I do feel like he is "my" horse, I don't always feel super attached to him.
Maybe that's because in some ways, I'm not entirely different from those girls on the message board: Maybe I am idealizing my former horse-human relationship with my Arab mare in the past, and I can't imagine having that bond again with another horse.
Or maybe it's because Marve is a 17-hand spooky TB who once bit me on the stomach for no apparent reason. Could that be it? :)