1. Inspiration. Horses are creatures of beauty. Beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder, but horses have inspired artists and poets through the ages. I am awed by the sight of a herd of horses galloping through a field – powerful, independent beasts but stunning to view. They are living art forms that remind us of the natural wonders of the world. This in turn inspires us to live our lives at a higher level.
2. Fun! Some of my best times growing up are doing things with my friends and my horses. We spent hours playing at the barn. Sometimes my girlfriends and I would go to the jump arena and pretend we were horses. Other times we’d be out riding and pretend space invaders were coming after us and we had to outrun them by galloping across an open field. Silly? Yes, but these are fond memories. Horses let kids be kids. They nurture the imagination and enjoyment of life.
3. Riding is all around great exercise. Burning calories and toning muscles while enjoying nature is the ultimate. The combination of barn work, grooming, and regular riding is one of the best kept fitness secrets around. If you ride regularly you can probably save a bundle on gym fees.
There are different riding disciplines that appeal to everyone from the risk taking trick rider to the cultured dressage queen. For others it’s a trail ride in the woods to renew their soul. In our family, riding has become a family activity. Its something we do together on the weekends or on vacations. My daughter is growing up with memories of sharing time and life aboard a horse. She’s not quite the horse fanatic as her mom, but she’s grown up associating being active with horses.
4. Social life. There are many social activities related to horses. From hanging out at the barn with friends to going to shows or group trail rides, horses keep their owners in touch with other humans. Horses give you an instant common bond with other horse admirers. This bond overcomes cultural and societal differences.
5. Positive mental health and relaxation. I keep horses because I love to ride, but it’s not the only reason. Truth is even if I didn’t ride I would keep horses because I love being around them. Horses relax you and intuitively seem to know what you need. I have come to appreciate this aspect of horses with the passage of time. As a kid horses meant riding and being with my friends. Now they act as natural tranquilizers – their very presence can lower my blood pressure and improve my mood. I simply enjoy watching them do their normal horsey activities – from munching on hay to rolling on their backs in the sandpitt.
Horses not only bring pleasure, but can provide emotional support. They seem to sense depression and pain in a person and will often react in amazing ways. I remember grieving bitterly when my husband passed away. My horse was my savior. She would come over to me and stand quietly while I wept. Her quiet emotional support gave me strength to move on and celebrate life as my husband would have wanted…it took a horse to show me the way.
6. Encourages a Healthy Active Life Style. Incorporating horses into your life is a good way to make to make healthy living part a habit. Horses are dependent on us for care and that forces us to stay active on a regular basis.
7. Sense of freedom and power. Horses free us from many of the limitations of our bodies. Short and dumpy? Weak and frail? Crawl aboard a powerful horse and you’re freed from your weaknesses. Having done volunteer work at a therapy riding school I learned the power of the horse first hand. Kids would be shuffled into the barn in wheelchairs. We’d carefully place them on a gentle horse and muscles that didn’t work would suddenly respond to the magical movement of the horse. Kids that spent their lives tethered to wheelchairs suddenly could move around aboard the horse. It released them from their chains and brought wide smiles to their faces. The effects may be temporary, but it was stuff of dreams.
8. Horses teach us about ourselves. Horses see our inner selves. They don’t care if we are the President of a company or the janitor in the local elementary school. They see us as we really are. There is no room for ego with your relationship with a horse. You have to earn their respect. You have to be honest with them and yourself.
9. Keep you close to nature. Spending time up close and personal with a horse renews your sense of wonder. I can’t think of a better way to appreciate the enchantment of life than riding a horse along a mountain pass or across a spring green meadow. If life is tearing you apart, simplify your life by spending time in nature with a horse. Horses are the essence of nature. What better way to return to natural old fashion ways than to ride a horse. They don’t make loud mechanical noise or leave nasty exhaust fumes to pollute the air. They don’t deplete the ozone or create hazardous waste. Horses are 100% natural and are good for you.
10. Friendship between the species. Those who have experienced a friendship with a horse will totally understand this reason. There is something incredibly comforting and therapeutic about being in the presence of a horse. The kindness and mutual respect, their awesome beauty, the sweet, soft nicker of a newborn foal, the old mare that comes to greet you at the fence and a million other reasons that could take me days to re-count. This famous quote sums it all up so perfectly …”God forbid that I should go to any Heaven where there are no horses.” R. B. Cunningham-Graham