The Mystery of Girls and Horses
by Caterina Tadlock


Many young girls today are fascinated with horses. It is well known in the horse world that far more girls than boys are involved in horse sports, associations, and clubs, with the exceptions being horse racing and rodeo. In the past, however, it was mostly men and who were involved with horses. So why today are so many girls attracted to horses?

Most would agree that horses are beautiful, graceful, elegant creatures and therefore appeal more to girls; however, horses haven’t always been viewed this way. The image of the horse has changed. Horses used to be considered tools for cowboys, a means of transportation for soldiers, and a matter of business for racehorse owners. Today, horses are mostly companion animals kept for pleasure rather than work or business purposes. Horses are no longer needed for ranch work or fighting wars, and while horseracing still exists mainly as a business, it is one of the few horse sports that does. The change in the image and use of the horse is likely what began the shift of interest in horses from boys to girls.

Because the use of horses has changed, the methods of training them have also changed. Horses are no longer “broken in.” Although the term is still used, the methods are different. In the past, horses that had experienced little or no human contact were saddled and ridden until exhausted from bucking. Once the horse had submitted, it would be trained to perform various tasks such as roping and herding cattle. Because horses were needed for work, no more time than necessary could be spent training them. The relationship between horse and rider used to be similar to that between master and servant. Today, however, training a horse is similar to teaching a child. In many ways, the relationship between horse and rider is similar to the relationship between mother and child, which I believe is the main reason why so many girls are attracted to horses.

Today’s training methods require a great deal of patience, trust and respect. Like a child, if a horse does not trust and respect you, it will not obey you. Horses are very sensitive, and, like children, need to be praised and nurtured, but also need to be disciplined. When a horse becomes frightened or nervous, the trainer must comfort it by remaining calm and unafraid, speaking in a soothing, comforting tone of voice, and gently stroking the horse. This is similar to the way that a mother might comfort a frightened or nervous child. When a well-trained horse becomes scared or confused, it will look to its rider for direction. This is similar to the way that children depend on their mothers for help and support. Like children, horses often throw tantrums when asked to do something that they do not want to do. Horses may refuse to cross water, or load in a trailer the same way that children might refuse to clean their rooms, or throw tantrums when told to go to bed.

Caring for horses requires a lot of responsibility. This responsibility is similar to women’s responsibility to care for their children. Women and girls have the natural maternal instinct to want to take care of and raise children, and horses enable them to act on that instinct. This is probably not something that most girls are aware of, but rather something that attracts them to horses on a subconscious level.

It has been suggested that a girl’s attraction to horses is similar to a girl’s attraction to a “bad boy” and that for a girl the idea of taming a wild dangerous horse is similar to the idea of taming a “bad boy”. However, I believe that this theory is a misunderstanding that is based on the way horses are portrayed in books and movies. Many books and movies tell the story of a wild dangerous horse that only one special girl can handle. Anyone who has any experience with horses, however, knows that this situation very seldom occurs in reality. A horse may bond with and perform better for its trainer, but a well-trained horse can be handled by anyone. It is true that a close relationship between horse and rider is often formed. Such a relationship is developed with time, patience and knowledge; it is not an instantaneous thing that a girl can immediately achieve as many books and movies have suggested.

It is important to understand why girls are attracted to horses, because this attraction can be beneficial to girls. Horses can help shape girls’ character in positive ways by teaching them responsibility and helping them develop many of the skills that they will need as mothers.



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