• Kathy Rumsey

Going back to grazing

Updated: Oct 10, 2018

During my stay in Costa Rica, we spent some time watching the horses in an arena. Specifically, we were watching how they behaved when something unexpected happened. We were looking at the behaviors of each horse and at collectively how the herd acted during the time of stress and afterward.

It was interesting as each horse took on a different role, but then they would switch roles effortlessly and seamlessly with each other. What was even more fascinating? Once they determined that they were safe from whatever had caught their attention, they went back to grazing.


This concept of going  back to grazing" was brought up a lot last year (and again this year). It's something horses are very good at it. Humans, not so much. Debbie, one of the workshop facilitators, was talking to us one day and remarking on how tiring it is for humans when we resist the concept of going back to grazing. She used the example of a herd of horses being out in the pasture and realizing that there is mountain lion nearby. Horses are prey, and mountain lions are real and serious predators to a herd. The horses would work together and get through (hopefully successfully) the threat; alerting the mountain lion that they have seen it and chasing it off. Then? Then, the horses go back to grazing. She remarked to us: "can you imagine how tiring those horses would be if they stood around for the rest of the evening recounting that experience of the mountain lion"?


Earlier this week a new housecleaning company came to my house to clean. In the past, I've had a single person or sometimes two people, come in to clean. This company sent in 4 people. They kind of swarmed the house with the vacuums and supplies and set out to different parts of the house and got their job done.


Fast forward to the next morning -- it's 6 am, and I'm feeding the cats, but only one cat is coming to eat. Then I notice that there is a lot of food left over in their dishes from the last evening's meal. I go around the house calling Chatham, our Maine Coon, who hasn't shown up for breakfast. I got mildly worried when he wasn't in any of his usual spots, but I kept looking and finally heard him meowing from a bedroom closet. I opened the door, and he trotted out; directly to the litter box and then up to the counter to eat his breakfast.


I'll admit, I did feel bad that the cat had been shut in a closet. No doubt he had taken refuge in there the day before to get away from all the cleaning people who had descended upon the house and his usual safe places. I mentioned it to my husband and my son, who both felt very bad for the cat. Even later that day, both my husband and son interacting with me and expressed how sorry they felt for the cat, about the cat. That he had been stuck in a closet for so long. But the cat? He had been fine since that closet door opened earlier in the day and he was able to get to the litter box and his food. He, so to speak, went back to grazing. The humans? It seems we still have a little more work to do there.

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