One challenging thing about telecommuting is not getting to take coffee breaks at the company water cooler. For a social creature such as me, sometimes the work-at-home solitude gets a little lonely. So this afternoon, feeling a bit desk bound and antsy after seven hours of working on projects for The Horse, I decided to take 15 minutes on the patio to enjoy some sunshine and reboot my brain.

It didn’t take long for me to close my eyes, feel the warm sun on my face, and listen to the migrating birds flirting and fighting with each other amongst our ancient juniper trees. But, I ended up hearing much more than the birds.

Unique and Marathon listen to hear if the neighborhood horses have anything else to say.

Photo: Michelle Anderson

We live just outside city limits in a neighborhood of 100 or so small properties ranging from 2.25 to 5 acres. Most of the ranchettes house at least a couple equids. With my eyes closed, I could hear the horses and mules as they started talking to each other. It began on one side of our neighborhood--a high pitched whinny in the distance followed by an answer just a little bit closer, and then another even closer. Like a childhood game of grapevine or telephone, the horse calls rolled through my neighborhood from one end to the other.

All three horses on my property responded with loud, breathy neighs. My friend’s pony mare, Unique, added a squeal and loud snort for good measure that sent our small herd running, bucking, and striking at their gates. The conversation continued to our next-door neighbor’s two geldings and then traveled before hitting the edge of our surrounding public lands and bouncing back through the neighborhood.

This wave of whinnies made three passes across the development before losing momentum and finally dying out. It wasn’t quite the human conversation or companionship I was craving today, but it did help me better understand the social nature of both humans and horses, which is an obvious reason our species have been drawn to each other for millennia. I found listening to the greater neighborhood horse “herd” rejuvenating and a wonderful reminder of how fortunate I am to live and work near my horses.

But I can’t help but wonder: What were the horses saying to each other?