Why God Gives Us Horses - and Takes Them Away Again
God gives us horses and compels some of us to love them. Yet why does the horse, an animal with such a big heart, live such a short life? Perhaps it's because if our horses lived any longer, we wouldn't be able to bear losing them. Or, perhaps, God looks down on the fine horses we raise and decides when it's His turn to ride. He gives us a few good years to care for and learn from them, but when the time is right, it's up to us to see them off gracefully. OK, perhaps not gracefully. Blowing into a Kleenex is rarely graceful. But we can be grateful.
To have a horse in your life is a gift and a bundle of life lessons in one furry package
In the matter of a few short years, a horse can teach a girl courage, if she chooses to grab mane and hang on for dear life the learning doesn't stop there. Even the smallest of ponies is mightier than the tallest of girls! To conquer the fear of falling off, having one's toes crushed, or being publicly humiliated at a horse show is an admirable feat for any child.
Horses teach us responsibility and accountability
Responsibility and compassion are the hardest things for a parent to teach in this day and age, but a horse manages to do it with grace and dignity. Unlike a bicycle - or a computer - a horse needs regular care and most of it requires that you get dirty and smelly and up off the couch. Choosing to leave your cozy kitchen to break the crust of ice off the water buckets is to choose responsibility. When our horses dip their noses and drink heartily, we know we've made the right choice.
Learning to care for a horse is both an art and a science
Some are easy keepers, requiring little more than regular turn-out, a flake of hay, and a trough of clean water. Others will test you - you'll struggle to keep them from being too fat or too thin. You'll have their feet shod regularly only to find shoes gone missing. Some are so accident-prone you'll swear they're intentionally finding new ways to injure themselves.
If you weren't raised with horses, you can't know that they have unique personalities
You'd expect this from dogs, but horses? Indeed, there are clever horses, grumpy horses, and even horses with a sense of humor. Those prone to humor will test you by finding new ways to escape from the barn when you least expect it. Horses can be timid or brave, lazy or athletic, obstinate or willing. You will hit it off with some horses and others will elude you altogether. There are as many "types" of horses as there are people - which makes the whole partnership thing all the more interesting.
Learning about horses never ends
If you've never ridden a horse, you probably assume it's a simple thing you can learn in a weekend. You can, in fact, learn the basics on a Sunday - but to truly ride well takes a lifetime. Working with a living being is far more complex than turning a key in the ignition and putting the car in "drive." Part of the fun of horses, is that you always have new things to learn, and new and better methods to accomplish the goal you have in mind, no matter how many years you've ridden.
Horses have opinions
Interacting with a horse is never static like driving a car. Each day, even with the same horse, can be a new experience. In addition to listening to your instructor, your horse will have a few things to say to you as well. On a good day, he'll be happy to go along with the program and tolerate your mistakes; on a bad day, you'll swear he's trying to kill you. Perhaps he's naughty or perhaps he's fed up with how slowly you're learning his language. Regardless, the horse will have an opinion. He may choose to challenge you (which can ultimately make you a better rider) or he may carefully carry you over fences...if it suits him. It all depends on the partnership - and partnership is what it's all about
Horses teach us humility, courage and patience
If you face your fears, swallow your pride, and are willing to work at it, you'll learn lessons in courage, commitment, and compassion, in addition to basic survival skills. You'll discover just how hard you're willing to work toward a goal, how little you know, and how much you have to learn. And, while some people erroneously think "the horse does all the work," you'll be challenged physically as well as mentally. Your horse may humble you completely. Or, you may find that sitting on his back is the closest you'll get to heaven.
Riders and horses must earn partnership and trust together
You can choose to intimidate your horse, but do you really want to? If you do, your partnership will ever be as graceful as what can be gained through trust. The best partners choose to listen, as well as to tell. When it works, we experience a sweet sense of accomplishment brought about by intelligence, patience, hard work, determination and mutual understanding between horse and rider. A true partnership is sometimes easy, sometimes hard-won, but always worth the effort.
We soon realize that time spent in the barn is never wasted
If we make it to adulthood with horses still in our lives, most of us have to squeeze riding into our over saturated schedules; balancing our need for things equine with those of our households and employers. There is never enough time to ride, or to ride as well as we'd like. Hours in the barn are stolen pleasures. If it is in your blood to love horses, you share your life with them, no matter the sacrifice.
Horses lighten our hearts and bring us a sense of peace
Our horse is like our own personal therapist. They listen patiently and they don't judge. Our horses sense our fears, they know our secrets; we braid our tears into their manes and whisper our hopes into their ears. A barn is a sanctuary in an unsettled world, a sheltered place where life's true priorities are clear: a warm place to sleep, someone who loves us, and the luxury of regular meals...we all need these reminders from time to time.
When you step back, it's not just about horses - its about love, life, and learning
On any given day, a friend is celebrating the birth of a foal, a blue ribbon, or recovery from an illness. That same day, there is also loss: a broken limb, case of colic, or a decision to sustain a life or end it gently. As horse people, we share the accelerated life cycle of horses: the hurried rush of life, love, loss, and death that caring for these animals brings us. When our partners pass, it is more than a moment of sorrow. We mark our loss with words of gratitude for the ways our lives have been blessed. Our memories are of joy, awe, and wonder. Absolute union. We honor our horses for their brave hearts, courage, and willingness to give.
As horse lovers, we are a unique community
To those outside our circle, it must seem strange. To see us in our muddy boots, who would guess such poetry lives in our hearts? We celebrate our companions with praise worthy of heroes. Indeed, horses have the hearts of warriors and often carry us into and out of fields of battle. When you listen to stories told of that once-in-a-lifetime horse, of journeys made and challenges met, it inspires each of us on to our next challenge. The best of horses rise to the challenges we set before them, asking little in return. Those who know them understand how fully a horse can hold a human heart. Together, we share the pain of sudden loss and the lingering taste of long-term illness. We shoulder the burden of deciding when or whether to end the life of a true companion.
In the end, we're not certain if God entrusts us to our horses or our horses to us. Does it matter? We're grateful God loaned us the horse in the first place.
About the Author
Hello, my name is Marja, I am the owner of Darkhorse Saddlery. We've been in business since 2008 at our current location. We are here because of you, our customers. This is your local tack shop, we appreciate you and your feedback! Use the "Contact Us" form to drop us a line, request a product or tell us what's on your mind.