Lessons from the Herd

Escape Artist

Living on a ranch with so many animals can be educational and often quite entertaining. We have a saying here, “There’s always something on the ranch.”

You can see from the video a great example of what I mean. Our colt has learned to open gates with his lips. He’s very adept and deliberate about freeing the horses and donkeys and doesn’t like it much when we corral them. 

I’m sure we look hysterical, chasing them around the yard, and trying to keep them from running into the pool. 

He’s not the only escape artist; a few weeks ago, his mother broke the latch on another paddock. We caught three escapees running down the road. Good thing we live on a cul-de-sac, and the neighbors know the drill when they see horses running loose.

I tell myself a story about these breakouts. I think the animals are responding to our global desire to be free. 

Doesn’t that make sense?

We’re not used to being told to stay put, especially when there is no plan for when we’ll be able to move about in our normal or at least, new-normal way. 

We sometimes spin in circles. We’re trying to figure out how to make sense of what’s going on. What do we need to do? How do we be with ourselves and with our housemates? 

Maybe some lessons from the herd could be helpful right now. 

Horses live in the moment and tune in at three levels, the self, the herd, and the environment. 

Equines don’t fret about the past or the future but respond immediately to perceived danger. They conserve their energy unless they need to protect themselves. 

When you watch, you will see that they all stop whatever they are doing, use their senses to assess the situation, then either take action or return to a quiet or ‘zero’ stance once the threat has passed. 

Each member of the herd has a ” job,” such as leader, scout, or defender, and together they depend on the collective herd wisdom to determine the next action. 

They don’t waste energy worrying, arguing, or running around in circles. They survive by cooperating and doing their part to maintain mutual safety.

So, how can we apply that wisdom to our circumstances? Being quarantined can be quite challenging for many of us. It can create a strain on strained relationships and strengthen stable relationships. (Pun intended!)

We can all do our part to maintain the safety of the collective. We all know the drill by now. 

Take care of yourself and the others in your herd. 

Whether you live with others or not, be grateful that you belong to a herd and are not out in the wilderness on your own. 

Practice clear communication while also being patient and kind. 

Watch out for and help one another, especially if someone is in trouble. 

Share the resources and be generous whenever possible. 

Even though there may be greener pastures on the other side of the fence, it’s safer to stay put for now.

So, until we can run free, please stay safe. 

You are all part of my herd. I’d love to hear how you’re doing.