Do We Love Our Horses?
I was supposed to be writing an article on the local trails. But somehow I just can’t seem to get started on that one.
What I would rather write about is 'why we love our horses'?
What does your horse and all the myriad things that go along with them have to do with how you feel about them? What does being with your horse have to do with the feelings they elicit when you are with them?
I have owned a horse for most of the time that I have been on this planet. Remarkably I am the only one in my family of 5 kids that has had “the bug” since I was a young child. I am nearly 50 years old as I write this and still my family insists there’s something odd about my devotion to these creatures that have been so much a part of my life for so very long.
I remember the morning of my 5th birthday when Grandfather said to me that he had something for me out in the truck but that I had to eat my pancakes before I could go out and see what it was. As I said, I’m almost 50 years old and that morning is so impressed into my mind that I remember the small and unimportant detail of having pancakes for breakfast.
Can you imagine my complete and total surprise when the shaggy little Shetland pony that he had hauled to the farm came jumping out of the back of the panel truck? Grandfather had gotten up early and picked this little black and white fur ball up before breakfast. That’s when the lifelong affair with horses started for me. I was astonished to be sure! A pony! My very own pony! I was in love. Little did I know that horses would become the love of my life, for the rest of my life.
Ok so now we know how I got started in the horse world, but what about you? What is it that has fascinated me for all these years? What is it that fascinates you?
For me, it’s when I get to the barn and step out of the truck, just like you, the first thing that I notice is the various smells of horses. The delightful smell of baled hay, the leather from the tack room, horse sweat and yes even the manure. It’s an automatic tranquilizer for me. The tension in my shoulders that seems to always be present disappears. The troubles of the day and the current problems that abound in my life go to autopilot somewhere in the back of my head.
The annoying little minutiae of everyday life is forgotten in the knowledge that there is someone waiting for me that I love to be with. Someone that I cherish every single moment with.
I know that she’s not there to judge me, she’ll listen to everything I have to say to her without interrupting me and she lets me concentrate and works with me to show the improvements that we make together.
It begins with going out to the pasture with my lead rope in hand and a treat in my pocket. At the farm where I keep her the average pasture is about 50 acres and sometimes due to the hills I can’t even see her out there. But I put on my happy face and begin the walk. (Amazing, when I think that if I had to walk this far across a parking lot to go shopping I would stay home instead.)
When I can see the herd of mares grazing peacefully in the short brown grass of a Tennessee winter it elicits feelings I have a hard time describing.
I call out to her and up pops her head; she answers me with a whinny and begins to meet me somewhere in the middle. Searching my pockets for that bit of carrot or a peppermint candy that she knows is there. She nuzzles my face crunching the treat in my ear as if to say “thanks, that’s pretty tasty.”
This mare is so special to me. Out of all the horses that have passed through my barn doors, she is one of the best. When I purchased her I had just sold my Tennessee Walking Horse gelding that I had bought twelve years previously. I know you must be wondering how I could have sold a horse that I had owned for so long, but you have to understand, I had outgrown him and he had become thru time and effort well spent, a perfect child’s mount.
I wasn’t riding him anymore and I couldn’t stand the thought of such a wonderful horse just sitting in the pasture the rest of his life when he could be taking care of someone else. The family that now has him has a ten year old son that adores him. He is a perfect gentleman and a super confidence builder for a timid rider. I couldn’t be happier with a new home for my guy. And after all, it is about the horse isn’t it?
But I digress.
When I get out my grooming box and begin the task of cleaning up what I have come to believe is the origin of all the topsoil on earth it doesn’t cross my mind that it ‘s a mess. However, if this was my kitchen floor at the very least I would be peeved that I had to sweep it up. But when it comes to my mare I don’t care if she sheds enough dirt to plant a crop of corn. I know that the time I spend grooming her is time well spent. Not only can I see a job well done, I can see that she truly enjoys it too. It makes all the bending, sweating and dirty clothes worth it.
I can smell her, I can feel her, and the furry winter hair is long, thick and soft to the touch. She stands so quietly and patiently, eyes half closed and one back foot resting on edge in the typical relaxed position that we all know so well.
It’s chilly this morning and I can see the frost that clings to my mare’s long winter whiskers and eyelashes begin to melt and turn to tiny liquid diamonds as the fog rises from her silky nostrils to disappear into the air. As I run my gloveless hands over her legs and body checking for any bumps that shouldn’t be there I think about the ride today and make a plan to hopefully master that maneuver we have been trying to learn. It’s a simple shoulder in. I ride western now, but my heart is firmly seated in dressage. I think all horses should have a basic understanding of simple dressage moves. They are the foundation of so many different disciplines.
The chill in the air is offset by the warmth that I feel when I hold my hands under her mane for a few minutes.
As I saddle my mare and recheck all the fittings and various parts of my tack I look for any faults in either my saddling skills or damages to the leather. It’s an unconscious thought process and it actually makes me smile to think that in the passage of time this simple act has become an integral part of tacking up for every responsible horse person the whole world over. That’s something else that you and I have in common.
I know that when I lead her from the barn out to the round pen for a few warm up laps I will be having the best part of my day as soon as I get on trail or out to the arena. I’m not a rich person, monetarily at least. But I know in my heart of hearts that no is richer than I at this moment. And that makes it all worth it.
So… why do you love your horse?
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