For the Love of the Horse

horse meadowMany of us who are horse lovers have been so since we were children. Some of us outgrew this stage and some of us rekindled our love later in life. For some of us, this love never abated.

Just as there are many paths in life, there are many different types of horse people. This is something that I try to keep constantly in mind. My reason for riding is not your reason for riding, and my reason is not superior to yours. We spend reckless amounts of money on these creatures for the privilege of spending time with them. We do this because they give us something.

There are those who humanize horses, or romanticize them into pseudo-magical creatures. For me, these actions do horses a disservice. What makes horses amazing needs no embellishment.

Horses are linked to us in our need for others. We are both social creatures, us predators and them prey. They are massive, powerful creatures that, if they wanted, could render the little arrangement we have of us riding them completely void. They could knock us down. They could fling us to the furthest reaches of the barn. They could charge us, pick us up and toss us out of their stalls. God knows if our positions were reversed most of us would take advantage of that power. And yet, by and large, they don’t.

Their tolerance is amazing. Daily we see horses taking a certain measure of discomfort with acceptance. Even the horse on the best footing, with that custom saddle and a soft handed rider comes out muscle sore and achy on occasion. But many do not have those ideal circumstances. And so through a myriad of discomforts, annoyances, pains and distractions, they still carry us about. How many times have we seen a horse with an undiagnosed injury still obey the command to trot before we see what is wrong? How many times does a horse spook and then refocus their attention on us to continue working? How many horses have had riders learn to sit the trot on their backs, try to figure out half halts, panic and pull on their faces and afterward they nicker for their cookies.

Contrast that with us. We as humans are slighted and then retaliate, hurt and hurt in kind, have hectic and fractured lives. What horses give us, if we allow them, is a moment out of this aggressive, cerebral, complicated world in which we live. Horses are simple creatures, and I do not mean this with an ounce of condescension or insult. They seek calmness and stability and once they achieve these things, are at peace. They are ignorant of the constant ambitions, covetings and angst that happen around them. It is a bit funny that we have built an empire of fashion, competition and commerce around these creatures who are bought and sold as commodities within it and the entire time all they want is a good graze.

Again, why I ride is not why you ride. Why I love horses is not why you love horses. None the less, everyone who is involved with horses received something from them. It could be a sense of kindness, of unjudging tolerance. It could be the power they allow you to hold over them. It could be the awards and ribbons they allow you to earn.

What we do, we do for the love of the horse or more specifically, for what the horse gives us. They are not unicorns. They are not magical. But they are amazing creatures to whom I have dedicated my life.

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