Zen and Horses
By Eleanor Blazer
When I was a youngster I could sit and watch a nursing foal or a grazing horse for hours.
Now I look at a horse with an analytical eye. Does her hair coat look slick? Is it duller than it was a month ago? Has she lost/gained weight? Is her muscle tone changing?
I analyze my hay. I read feed tags. I weigh everything. I run the numbers to ensure nutrient levels are being met. I read nutritional research papers.
One of the definitions for “Zen” is: “the teaching that contemplation of one's essential nature to the exclusion of all else is the only way of achieving pure enlightenment”¹. You may have to read this several times to achieve understanding.
Applying Zen to the art of feeding horses would allow us to feed horses the way nature intended. We would exclude the “quick fixes” supplement companies advertise. We would look at the horse and determine what is best for her. The little rush of endorphins we get when buying a new supplement would be forfeited. (Research has shown spending can release endorphins – creating a “high” feeling.)
Contemplate why you are spending money on expensive supplements. Providing better quality forage and more of it would be better for the nature of the horse - but not as rewarding for you.
Have you ever sat and watched a horse enjoy his two ounces of supplement? Most hate them.
Those of us who are adults and are lucky enough to own a horse or work in the equine industry do so because we love them. We started out loving them when we were children. As adults we still love them, but how often do we take time to enjoy the moment? I don’t mean as we are riding down the trail or accepting an award, but during a quiet time.
After giving your horse the last hay meal of the day or during the last check of the horse grazing in the pasture before bedtime, take a few minutes to sit and watch. Enjoy the moment and the enlightenment.