Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Being Real

by Lisa Wysocky

I was at the barn the other day scratching Tessie, our lead mare, in the pasture. She loves to be scratched. When one of the other horses approached, however, she pinned her ears, made an ugly face, and the other horse moved away. In that moment I wished that I could be as transparent in my life as Tessie was in hers.

That’s the thing about horses. They wear their emotions all over their bodies. Once you understand equine language, you know without a doubt which emotion your horse is feeing. From a swished tail to the tilt of an ear, horses tell us exactly what is going through their minds.

People . . . not so much. Most people hide their emotions and true feelings so deeply that we get caught up in what we think a friend, co-worker, or loved one felt or meant. Usually we are wrong. Then, after a long delicate dance of convoluted proportions where each person tiptoes around the other, one party’s true feelings might possibly come out. Or not. 


The upshot is that our complicated human ritual of hiding our feelings is a writer’s dream. We can attach a series of facial expressions and body movements to a fictional character that is sure to confound the reader and keep him or her guessing. Our complex social rules dictate that we suck up anger, disappointment, fear and many other emotions when we are in public. I have sometimes wondered how different our lives might be if we just expressed our feelings in the moment. On one hand our close relationships might become much stronger, as we would have cut through all the red tape that keeps us from being real. On the other hand, our casual and workplace relationships would most likely deteriorate. Who wants to be around Debbie Downer after work, or eat lunch with a person who expresses all of her anger as you’re trying to enjoy a club sandwich?

For now, I will continue to be polite, even on the rare occasions I do not feel like it. I will keep making conversation and smiling, even during those few times when I’d rather be someplace else. One day, though, I’m going to do it. One day when I don’t want to talk to a person who annoys or intimidates me I am going to pin my ears and make an ugly face. I will turn around and walk away from them and if they follow, I will kick them. After that, if I manage not to get arrested for assault, I might even feel good enough to prick my ears and trot toward home. 

Lisa is the author of My Horse My Partner and Horse Country, among many other books, and the award-winning Cat Enright cozy equestrian mystery series, now optioned for film and television. When not writing, Lisa is a therapeutic riding instructor who consults with PATH and other centers about their horse herds.


  1. Lovely post. Thanks for the insights into horse and human behavior!

  2. Thank you, Lisa, for your kind comment! Hope you are doing well.