It’s no secret that I love horses. I’ve been blessed to have spent most of my adult life either riding or just being around horses. I love horses.
I think most people love horses even if the only horse they’ve ever ridden was on the Coney Island carousel. Horses fascinate me. They’re a living miracle of survival, evolving over the last 45-55 million years to the present day.
Their offspring, unlike helpless human babies, are on their feet and leaping around within an hour or so of birth.
They can sleep standing up or lying down, survive on rough forage, and are one of the fastest animals on the earth, with the exception of the cheetah. The cheetah has been clocked at 68 mph in a sprint. The Quarter Horse, bred for the quarter mile sprint, has been clocked at 55mph.
What is perhaps surprising to those who don’t spend a lot of time around horses is their extraordinary intelligence and ability to adapt to almost any situation given the right introduction.
As flight animals it isn’t natural for a horse to live in a box stall, stand quietly tied in a horse trailer, or even to accept a rider. Yet they do so because they have an amazing ability to learn and an even greater ability to trust in the right person.
Recently, I was sharing a story of my little herd; three geldings and a pony mare.
We’ve taught all four to match our steps when walking them on lead ropes to and from their paddocks. It looks like this- I take two steps, my horse takes two steps. I take one giant step, my horse takes one giant step. I take one step back, my horse takes one step back. I walk quick, my horse walks quick. I walk slow, my horse walks slow. All the while I notice the horse’s ear closest to my shoulder is tilted slightly towards me. In other words, that’s where he’s putting his attention; on me and my footfalls.
This comes in handy on a night like tonight when the wind is high and the path to the barn is slick with ice.
I don’t have to worry about my horse racing ahead and pulling me down or worse.
Think of the intelligence, awareness, and sensitivity required of a flight animal to voluntarily mirror your steps.
Here are three fun reads for anyone who loves horses and would like to know more about them.
I met Mark Rashid for the first time at a friend’s horsemanship clinic in New Hampshire. In this book, he shares his unique and gentle horsemanship in the form of stories. It’s not only an entertaining read, it’s educational. What I noticed about Mark and his relationship to horses was how relaxed horses seemed to be around him. I highly recommend all of Mark’s books.
Just after Christmas, I realized I hadn’t received a book from Santa. I always get a book for Christmas! I looked around for a book to read, but nothing appealed. So, I decided to take my dog for a walk to the mailbox. Lo and behold, in the mailbox was a Christmas present from a friend. Lady Long Rider by Bernice Ende. This is her personal story of riding 2,000 miles on horseback from Montana to New Mexico. A quote from the first few pages, “Pride felt the same nervousness that I felt. He wanted to go back home, and, truthfully, so did I. If I turn north I go back to the safety of home. If I turn south I keep moving on a journey I had scarcely begun and for which I was already riddled with doubts…” Well, I leave you there. This is a great read for anyone who wants to chase their dream.
July 6th, 1975, sitting on the couch with my mom, at thirteen years old, I watched the live match race between Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure. This book tells the story of, Ruffian, who was the greatest racing filly of all time, and, of course, the people who loved her.
Share your favorite horse reads in the comment section. I’m always looking for a good horse book!