Despite the numerous side effects, at least this wonderful substance is addictive.

3 Buttermilkhead

By Kelli Neubert

My 9-year-old self just loved to jump. Decked out in breeches, tall rubber boots and a worn velvet helmet, I’d point my retired racehorse “Phantom” over every 2-foot, painted cross-rail as though it was a triple oxer in the Olympic trials.

Sometimes I would clear the fence, and sometimes my horse would screech his brakes, stop before the jump and I’d continue forward, sailing over it and landing on my back. The wind would be sucked from my lungs, and I would gasp for air as I sobbed traumatically in the sand for a minute or two. My riding instructor was always kind enough to wait for me to recover my breath, and then she would make me shove my little rubber boots back into the stirrup irons and ride a bit more before I quit for the day.

She’d say “Isn’t it funny how a little horsehair will make ya feel just a little bit better?”

And surprisingly, even if I was a bit scared to proceed, I would always get back on my horse and feel better.

I write this because I witnessed a similar incident just this week with a little boy. He reached out a little too far with his rope, lost his balance and tumbled off his pony. But guess what? He climbed back on and continued riding. I’m sure many of you can tell this same sort of story in your own lives.

Why do we get back on the horse? The ground is hard! It hurts! There are no guarantees it won’t happen again. Why are we so determined to be at the barn? I’ve fallen off and been bucked off. I’ve been bitten and kicked and embarrassed time after time. So why do I make the horse a mandatory part of my life?

Maybe it is the horsehair after all.

I understand that to the untrained nose, it smells a little funny.

It sticks to fleece, it’s not cheap, and—no kidding—is potentially addictive.

Side effects include dirty clothes, sore muscles, bruises, pickups, trailers, cattle, better fencing, entry fees and vet bills. Please continue taking if you experience frustration, embarrassment, humility and small bursts of victory (this means it’s working!)

Direct contact is usually the best method, but being in the general vicinity of the equine will usually suffice. Often the positive effects of full barn-saturation can be felt long after leaving it.

Are you feeling blue and need a laugh? Scratch a horse on the bottom of his belly.

Forget the treadmill for endorphin-inducing exercise. There are always pens to pick through, fences to check, miles to trot and saddles to clean. (And if you get through with all of that at your place, come to mine!)

But all kidding aside, I don’t think there’s a material on the planet that sops up a rogue tear or two like horsehair can.

It’s empowering to have such a large and capable animal fully rely on you to feed and care for him. It’s humbling to know that our relationship with these creatures is based on trust and balance. As the famous saying goes, “There’s just something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.”

I’m not saying that the equine is the end-all cure. We horsemen are still going to have troubles. We are faced with stresses and difficulties in our lives that range from fixable to life threatening, and having a horse in our social circle is not going to dissipate that. If simply being around horses was what determined happiness, I’d be annoyingly joyful every hour of the day just because of the time logged with the hooved creatures. That’s not how it works.

But isn’t it funny how a little bit of horsehair will make you feel just a little bit better?

 

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