Playtime: The Animal Guide to Having a Ball!

At the moment I am on vacation. Cruising around BC’s beautiful interior with my whippet B, I find myself faced with a personal challenge. To truly enjoy myself! It is a strange phenomenon that as humans, there is a tendency to lose our sense of play and wonder and get so serious that life loses its lustre. Not only does it feel fantastic to express ourselves in playful ways, but it is healthy for us as well. We tend to stop stressing out about the small stuff, perhaps even having a giggle when things don’t quite go our way. Life just becomes a more positive and enjoyable place to be.

  Can you imagine a golden retriever that didn’t want to play, or a greyhound that didn’t love to run? So why do we take it so lightly when we refuse to crack a smile during the funniest joke or dance to our favourite song? I suppose the question is “What are we so scared of?” Personal control has its benefits I’m sure, but it can’t be healthy to constantly chain ourselves to the expectations and judgments of ourselves and those around us. If you look at it from the eyes of any animal in your life, it really doesn’t matter at all what anyone else thinks. It is through expressing yourself authentically in play and otherwise that gains true respect and trust. 

  Animals don’t fake it. They are not forever trying to be something they are not. In fact, this type of behaviour is detrimental to their position and safety in their pack or herd. Take a horse for example. Being a prey animal, horses are incredibly tuned in to the thoughts of their herd and of the animals around them. And yes, this most definitely includes you. If a predator walks by, horses are immediately aware, not only of his body language, but if his internal thoughts match this outward appearance. This is what we call congruency. If this predator (or you) feels incongruent (outward appearance says “I’m not hungry,” inward thoughts say “Those horses look tasty”), it is a definite signal to move on quickly. In humans, we often appear like we’re having fun on the outside, but inside we’re a turbulent mess of emotions and stress.  Believe me, if this is the case for you, your horse is going to be stressed out in your presence. Dogs will become stressed and imbalanced trying to make your inside match your out. Cats will spend their lifetime trying to transmute all that pent up energy. If you want to know how you are feeling on the inside, look no further than these furry mirrors. 

  So how does the typical human go about having fun? Well, there are often substances involved to loosen the chains a bit! The thing is, every one of us has an inner child in us who would love to escape and have a little fun. No illicit substances required. There is a part of all of us which absolutely needs to play and to express freely to be fully balanced. Animals rarely lose this part, although when they do, it is a great adventure to retrieve it. My horse was quite serious when I first got her (Gee, I wonder who she was reflecting?) and it has been a great journey to find her play drive. Always our intention together is to have as much fun as possible. Yee haw!

  Remember that fun doesn’t look the same for everyone. Really, it doesn’t matter what fun looks like for you as long as you’re having it. Quit putting yourself in other people’s fun boxes and start figuring out what you really enjoy, and how to be totally authentic and congruent while you’re doing it. Challenge yourself to change your perspective and enjoy the magic in every moment. Your animals are waiting patiently for you to burst out of your serious shell and have some fun with them!


Alexa Linton, is a Certified Bodytalk Practitioner, a Kinesiologist, Reiki Practitioner and an Equine Sport Therapist. 

Published by Alexa Linton

Alexa Linton, is a Certified Bodytalk Practitioner, a Kinesiologist, Reiki Practitioner and an Equine Sport Therapist. Her main area of interest is in working with animals and their owners to promote enhanced connection and balance.