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Coercion or Connection

There's a story about the way elephants are tethered when in human captivity. A simple chain or rope around one leg is tied to something that does not match the strength of the adult elephant. If he chooses, he could easily break the tie and be free. However, when he was a young elephant, he learned that it was useless to fight such restraint. By the time he's grown up, he remembers not his strength, but the uselessness of the fight. I was reminded of this story when I faced a series of moments where I experienced sensitivity and trust, not with an elephant, but with a horse who was born free, and now learning to adapt to being in human captivity. Congaree, called ReeRee for short, was captured in a mustang round up when he was about 2 or 3 years old. Bruce Anderson and Julianne Neal adopted him in South Carolina in 2023. My moment of truth came about 208 days after he began his journey with Bruce. Through ReeRee I saw the unseen - and mostly unconscious - ways we humans coerce each other to get work done together. In a series of catalyzing moments, followed by pure terror, reset and true connection, ReeRee revealed how we put the very stakes in the ground that imprison us. But first we must start with perception. Not mine, but that of a horse born among horses. His sensitivity to danger far surpasses that of a horse born among people. ...
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