10 March 2011

Why horses are so amazing.

I have been very lucky to know several horses in my life who have such unbelievable trust in their rider. Horses who are always willing to do whatever is asked of them, regardless of the circumstances. Horses who seem to love their rider/owner (it is debatable whether animals feel 'love' or not, but I personally believe that they do). These are the kinds of horses that will let a young 4H kid flop around on their back for hours on end trying to learn to sit the trot. The horses that will faithfully pick up the correct gaits and go slow when they have a young kid on their back whose feet don't even reach beyond the saddle pad. Those saintly walk trot horses who ignore any and all shenanigans in the show ring, and give their green kid a good and safe ride. Lesson horses that greet each person with forward ears, even if they've been ridden three times already that day. Horses that teach adult beginners (because lets be honest here, its much harder to deal with an adult who is bouncing around and has their hands everywhere than it is to deal with a small child doing the same thing), & those horses who work with disabled/handicapped riders. They are extremely patient and forgiving, and truly amazing to see.

Why do horses try so hard to please their humans? There are horses that will stand perfectly still for hours in a showmanship line up where it is 90 degrees outside and they've got flies crawling all over them, but they don't move a muscle. Horses that will carry a rider over a 5 foot jump every time they are asked to, regardless of if the rider is catching them in the mouth, haven't given the horse water, its a thousand degrees out, and the rider is plopping down onto their back like a sack of bricks after every jump. Horses that will piaffe and pirouette until their legs are going to fall off.

Show horses will let you clip the hair inside their ears and nostrils, spray them in the face with cold water, and scrub white markings until you can see the pink skin underneath. They go around and round and round and round the same arena every day, six days a week, at the same speed, doing the exact same routine, every day. They must get infinitely bored of doing it, but they still do it without even hesitating. They let riders spur them and yank on their mouth, but many horses never even pin an ear at it. 

So why do they put up with everything? Why do they even let us ride them? For some reason, most horses have an immense desire to please. I know that if I was a horse, I would be the classic bitch mare that everyone hates to deal with. However, I know very few horses who are unwilling to do anything. Most horses that I see on a daily basis are incredibly affectionate with their handlers, and put up with all kinds of nonsense under saddle. I don't know what makes them want to be around humans so much, when at the same time those humans often abuse and exploit the willingness their horse gives them. 

Personally, I know I've been on both ends of the spectrum. Now, I see Cruizer as one of my best friends. I try to keep him happy via treats, praise, attention, and variety. I try to get him out of the arena and into the wide open world as much as possible. When he is nervous, I do my best to comfort him. I try not to bully him or get upset with him when he's doing something I don't want him to. Cruizer thrives on praise. He withdraws very quickly and gets upset when he is scolded or punished for something. I am realizing more and more every day that I ride him, that rewards propel him forward. He is very food driven, so he always gets a treat for a good ride, or learning a new skill. He also gets treats "just because." Getting his neck scratched and being brushed with soft massage curries make him happy, so he gets those things too. Every day.

Regardless of how many cookies he gets each week though, I am still amazed that every day he goes to work with a good attitude and work ethic, even if we're doing the same thing that we've been doing daily for the past week. & I appreciate that SO much.

So please, thank your horse each day for what he has done for you. He is not required to do any of it, and really if he wanted to, he could easily break away and not tolerate anything. Horses are much stronger and bigger than we are, yet they still allow us to be their leader and they do what we ask. Not because they have to, but because they want to.

1 comment:

  1. So true. Most horses are so willing to please. It's really an amazing thing that a 1200 pound animal will actually do things for a human who just has to know how to ask.