While at my last riding lesson, my instructor said something about horses that really intrigued me. “Something different captures their imaginations,” she said, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the brilliance of it.
This is definitely true. For as big an animal as horses are, they’ll spook at anything and everything that’s different. Plastic bags blowing through the field, their own reflections in dark windows, or even something familiar that’s been moved out of place. They certainly have to have active imaginations to think that all of these small, inanimate objects are going to hurt something so large and strong.
The statement makes me wonder, though, what exactly goes on in a horse’s head. Or any animal’s head, for that matter. Do they imagine the same way humans do? Do they dream of adventure and wish that they could be a part of it, like I do?
Humans expose themselves to the idea of adventure through media, and books are the only reason that I know anything about fantasy and magic and have the ability to imagine those far-off worlds. Yet, we were the ones who came up with that. We take inspiration from things we feel and the things we see around us, and then we make these fantastic stories out of them. So why can’t animals do the same?
Horses, cats, dogs–these animals are so close to humans and so we can easily see how intelligent they are. I’d like to think that my beloved kitty has the power to imagine tales that inspire her. I’d love to know what lies behind her thoughtful eyes while she stares into space. It’s the same look I get when I’m thinking up something grand, after all.
Maybe they don’t even imagine anything that follows a plot, like humans do. Maybe what they imagine is much more rudimentary, just the raw feelings and emotions that are the building blocks of great stories. I’d be willing to believe this, and I’d be willing to bet that any such feelings and emotions an animal can imagine are much stronger than those that we feel on a regular basis. Animals don’t need to worry about the complications of words, so I think they’d have a much easier time getting to the stuff that matters: the heart of the adventure.
I don’t think I’ll ever know the secrets that rest just beyond an animal’s eyes, but I find it fun to imagine. And I can’t help but wonder: What on earth does my cat think about me?
If an animal you love could tell you what he or she is thinking, what do you think he or she would say? Are there any moments in your life when, without the need for words, you know exactly what’s going on in his or her head?
May your animal friends always keep their minds open and their mouths closed.