I’m currently staying in a hotel in Malaysia. It’s a bit of an odd one – I think the building started life as an office block, before becoming a hotel. It’s very square, which means one issue – if you pay top dollar and book a room on the outside of the building, you get a window. But if you get a standard room that is in the middle – there are no windows.
The first time I stayed here, I didn’t realise. I checked in at night, went up to my room, opened the door, wheeled luggage inside, close door – bed, check. Bathroom, check. Hanging rail / shelf, check. TV, check. Aircon unit, check. What’s missing? Something is not right… Ah, there is no curtain, there is no window. Never mind, I thought, it’s only three nights, and I’ll only be in here at night, I don’t need a room with a view, the curtains will be closed anyway… Do you know how awful those nights were?
Now, I’m not claustrophobic. I’ve been down mines, stuck in lift, scuba dive through shipwrecks. It takes a lot to rattle my cage. But, sleep in a room with no windows? Hmmm. And, I love (NEED) my time alone to recharge, especially when I’m busy teaching, and with people all day, and talking, and explaining and interacting – I love what I do, but it’s blissful and essential that I can close my door and the world out in the evening. I need a good 12 hours of time without seeing another soul. And yet – sleeping in a room with no windows…. Hmmm.
We humans need some form of interaction. We need light, movement, to see things, or sights, or at least whether or not it’s raining, sunny, day or night.
This trip I’m very, very happy, I have a window. Not only that, I have a minute little balcony. It’s hot and humid out there, and I’m really only here at night, but having a door and access to outside, excellent.
Recently there was a video going around Facebook. This one actually –
And, it really upset me.
There are loads of comments about hahaha, there is always a “special” horse around. Horses, even more than humans, need social interaction. They are “designed”, – hardwired – to be outdoors, walking, walking, walking. They should be grazing 16 hours a day, and much of that time is spent wandering along, nose on the ground, following the best trails of grass. They need to be interacting with other horses, or at least other animals. They groom each other, they form close bonds. If spending three nights without a window bothered me, imagine what living in a closed in box does to a horse. I suspect that the rails that these two horses are talking through enclose the stables on all four sides, and that these horses have no time to actually interact with another horse in any other way. If you turned these two out together, they’d probably be grooming each other. And, if they can’t be turned out together, how about at least creating a window for them? If they could stick their heads through a gap and “talk” without bars, I bet you this “funny” behaviour would disappear. I don’t see this as cute, funny or entertaining. I see it as a horse who is desperate to interact, having to have made a plan… If you see a tiger pacing up and down the front of his zoo cage, is it cute? If you see a horse windsucking, is it funny? If you see a person pacing and pulling at their hair, is it entertaining? Not really. So, why is this horse’s stress being seen as anything other than the stress behaviour that it is?