Neu Perspectives

Reading Horses

From pedigree to attitude, every horse has a non-fiction story for those skilled enough to take the time to read it.

From pedigree to attitude, every horse has a story for those skilled enough to read it.

I’ve often wondered why so many of us have a draw to being around horses. Perhaps it began as pure utility. A horse could get us from one place to the next more efficiently than we could travel on our own. They took us to battle, helped us hunt, grow crops in our fields and introduced us to new worlds and futures as we mounted up to explore new country. And I’m guessing our appreciation for their utility quickly morphed into exhilaration as soon as those first horses were broke enough to become fast and fun. Naturally, over time, they became less necessary for all and more of a choice for some. 

We feed them our time and money, and in return, we are graciously granted a new view, a special sort of speed, mental and physical challenges, and a partnership with someone who never talks back. 

Like us, many of them have had misunderstandings. Stresses. Uncertainty. Many people, decisions and events have created a path through their life that has set their direction and opportunity. Like us, some may be created from the get-go with the right stuff, and some fall into circumstances, details and connections that add up to a lifetime of accomplishment, prosperity and contentment.  Unlike us, they don’t care about accomplishment or trophies. What other horses think of them doesn’t cause anxiety. Often, when things get tough, the right amount of rest and the proper nutrition and care can work wonders in their lives. 

A lot of people want to know their horse’s story, and I can understand that. But I’ve found that in my years of interacting with both equines and humans, usually a horse can tell me more than a person can. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t mean that in a touchy-feely, mystical way. I say it because I’ve developed an eye and an opinion on what I’m looking for, and I’m versed enough to recognize whether or not an individual fits in a short amount of time. It’s not due to my talent or supernatural ability. I (along with many others) have dedicated a great portion of my life to this.

A horse’s written story isn’t always that important to me. If he’s a performance horse, his talent, pedigree and money earned (and where that money was earned) says a lot. The way he naturally moves is important. I read his attitude when he’s asked to do certain things. Is he sensitive? Is he patterned a certain way? If a horse is a little flinchy, touchy or afraid of interaction with people, I already know it will be tough to make it, say, a kid’s horse without a lot of work on my end. I don’t really care so much about the why; it’s just important to be able to define and recognize certain traits. 

Sometimes when I have a horse, I know his whole story. I created his story. I was the person behind the mare and the sire, and I employed a team of breeding barn help, vets, registration associations and trainers to make him what he is today. Other times, I don’t have a clue. All I know is that the horse is middle aged, 13.3 hands, brown, gelded and gentle. 

I fully understand not everyone has the volume of horses in their lives as I do, nor the time, nor the desire to be involved in our industry at a maximized level. That’s when it’s important to have the right people, advice, direction and help on your side. There’s comfort in knowing how a horse has been trained, handled and cared for — especially when we wrap our own emotions, time, trust and money into an individual. 

They lift us up. They break our hearts. They cure loneliness with their company and introduce us to lifelong friends that share the same feelings. Our thoughts can be transferred into their feet. Their abilities are willingly shared and they lend us what we lack. They can make us famous or humble us beyond measure (sometimes in the same ride.) 

How fortunate some of them are to have the chances they’ve gotten! And how blessed some of us are to have them in our lives.

I don’t know exactly the draw, but for some of us, they fill our pages. And as long as I’m lucky enough to have good horses be a part of my story, I’ll do my best to help them write a happy ending in theirs.

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