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Touch: Conquest Or Connection?

January 28, 20232 min read

What is it you’re seeking from your animals through touch?

The way we touch our horses, our animals, our children, says everything about us. When do we touch? How do we reach out? What needs are we seeking to have filled, and why should it be their responsibility to fill it for us?

So often, if we look to the heart of our interactions, we will see them painfully one sided. We reach out without noticing, without taking in the needs of the one we seek to connect to. In many ways, we feel owed touch. Maybe without even being aware, we are saying with our actions, “This is my dog, my horse, my child, and I’ll touch him if I want to!” A conquest cloaked in nice words, come here and let me pet you!

From the outside eye, horses raise their heads up to avoid quick hands that reach rudely for their sensitive faces. Children protest or shrink away from pinching and pulling hands, adjusting clothes or buckles or simply reaching out for contact as if the child, a future adult, had no feeling.

We are not owed connection- this is a two way street that develops organically. Another body seeks us out when we make them feel safe, seen, heard. It is not something to be purchased, or even worked at. It’s a budding over time, which time is dictated entirely by the chemistry between both parties. And it is a conversation that changes moment to moment, winding like water flowing over turns and rocks and over low hanging branches, never the same twice – touch with respect for the other being requires no assumptions to be made, to feel, observe and adjust to the moment, and to never assume command of the other, no matter how subtle or well meaning.

Photo by Jasmine Cope

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