While it’s true that keeping your own horse is expensive and hinders traveling, the pros outweigh the cons. If you make the commitment to buy a horse, you won’t regret it.
Admittedly, you can enjoy many of these benefits listed below by simply leasing/borrowing a horse, or taking riding lessons. You can have a lot of fun that way; I would know. But it’s not quite the same as having a horse to call your all own.
1. A Unique Bond. The bond between horses and humans is different from the connection between pet and owner. Equine expert and blogger Anne Leueen put it best when she wrote: “The great thing about riding a horse is it is the only sport where your partner is a member of another species. And a species that is not a natural partner with a human[, at that]. Dogs and cats are predator animals just like humans. Horses are prey and we are their natural enemies yet they choose to work with us. This is such a special and unique opportunity. ” In theory, horses and humans should never get along. One is a prey, the other is a predator; furthermore, we don’t speak a common language. Yet it does work, and it is beautiful.
2. Happiness. This is sort of hard to describe if you have never felt it in connection with a horse before. It’s something about that feeling of freedom as you gallop through a field, the wind whipping through your hair, that feeling of accomplishment as you soar over a jump you never could before, that feeling of warmth in your heart when your horse comes running towards you after you called his name, like he couldn’t wait to be with you again. For us equestrians, horses = happiness.
3. Growing Together. This is one of the benefits that you can really only experience with your own, personal horse. Anne Leueen provides multiple examples of this. “When I was a teenager I used to do eventing. One day, while on a cross country course, I realized my horse was not having his best day. … I knew my own horse well enough to know he was having an off day, not because there was something wrong or because he was behaving badly, but [just] because I knew him that well. You cannot get to know a lesson horse that well.” Leueen also mentioned a more recent example with her current horse, Baisini. “[When I first got him,] Biasini was a nervous horse and often spooked. After I had him for a year he began to trust me and became less and less nervous. He will still startle at things from time to time but it is over much faster. He needed his own personal owner.” So you can help your horse improve, but it actually works both ways. If you are a nervous rider, having a horse that you know and trust will help you gain the confidence that you previously lacked (http://bit.ly/2GmE1Ne).
4. Helping the Socially Awkward. I owe a thank you to the 3 Wild Horse blog for helping me realize this (http://bit.ly/2GmE1Ne). Horses can help you make friends. Think about it. Introverts usually have a hard time connecting with others because they don’t know what to say. Yet if they meet someone at a barn, they can know exactly what to talk about: horses! Instantly, you both have something in common. Or, if both of you are introverts who hate talking, then don’t; you can bond over just doing things together. Just ride down a trail, side by side, silently enjoying the scenery.
5. Physical Fitness. I can personally vouch that this is true. Back when I was taking riding lessons, I think I was in the best shape of my life. I got stronger through lifting heavy hale bales, convincing stubborn horses to lift their legs (so I could clean their hooves), and, obviously, through riding. Horseback riding is a workout, but it doesn’t feel that way, which is why it’s the perfect way to keep that New Year’s Resolution to lose weight.
6. Improving Your Mind. It sounds like something cheesy one’s parents might say, but owning a horse truly does sharpen your mind/character. Having a horse automatically turns you into a hard worker. Every day, you have to feed your horse, muck out his stall, groom him, exercise him, turn him out to pasture, or bring him in from turnout if the weather is bad, and more. Having an animal who depends on you can (hopefully) make you into a more responsible person. If your equine develops a bad habit, you can work on your creative problem-solving skills. Furthermore, riding a horse might make you more independent and confident. The list could go on; the benefits are as various as the situations that cause them.
7. Having a Buddy. Finally, it’s important to remember that the bond between you and your horse is special. When the horse is your own, “you can spend time with the horse that is not just riding the horse: taking the horse and hand grazing him, grooming, and just observing. The horse will learn to trust you and you will learn to trust the horse. There is nothing to replace this.” (Leueen) Like snowflakes, no two bonds are alike; it’s shaped by what you bring to the table and your horse brings. The wonderful part starts when you begin to build memories together. Now, horses aren’t humans, and they aren’t just big dogs or cats either. The horse-human relationship is one-of-a-kind, and you can only truly experience it by trying it for yourself.
And that’s the list! Special thanks to Anne Leueen for helping me with this post. If you enjoyed it, you should go check out Anne’s blog, the Horse Addict (https://horseaddict.net/). It’s a high-quality blog which includes interviews with professional equestrians, historical horse tidbits, articles “written” by Anne’s horse, and much more. I genuinely like it, and if you love horses, I think you will too.
See you next week!
- Anne Leueen. (https://horseaddict.net/)
- 3 Wild Horses blog post “5 Reasons Why Horses are Great Friends”. (https://threewildhorses.com/blogs/news/5-reasons-why-horses-are-great-friends)