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What do horses mean to you?

I’m pretty sure everyone in this entire forum loves horses, but what do they (or your horse specifically) mean to you?
For me it’s always been about freedom and a comfort.
I have two chronic illnesses (Cystic Fibrosis and reactive hypoglycemia) and horses take me out of that. If I’m getting out of breath, then a gentle walk on a horse lends me more freedom. If I’m feeling anxious from different hospital stuff then spending a few hours even just sitting in a pasture with a horse watching them, brings me peace. It’s too much to explain all of it, I never had the chance to have a horse of my own but I helped my neighbor with his horses for 6 years. (My picture is of one of those horses Blondie who was as close to my own horse as I’ve had, he even called her mine) After moving I lost that but recently might have a chance to do chores and be with two horses nearby, just maybe. And even the possibility of that has me pushing to exercise and get stronger after another hospital stay and another bout of depression from it.

What do horses mean to you?


I’ve spent a few minutes trying to put it into words, and I’m not sure I’ll do it justice, but I’ll try.

From someone who (since childhood) has always been a little anxious, weird, and timid, horses allow me to be part of something bigger than myself. It feels like in so many areas of my life I’m “not enough” but horses don’t operate in the same value quantification. To them, I’m enough. Times I’ve worked with them have been some of the only times I feel truly myself.

I remember the first time I had a horse collect under me, and it felt like flying. Simply euphoric. I was like I unlocked some secret magic, a magic that was dependent on my own capabilities and the trust of the animal under me. Nothing beats it.

Even when I was fit to ride, I wasn’t so much driven by a desire to improve my riding or compete. I just wanted to be near them in some capacity. Lately I’ve been spectating and photographing local shows, and I’m still filled with childlike giddiness just being adjacent to “real” horse people.

And as an artist, I’ve been drawing horses since I could hold a crayon. I’m 30 and still absolutely gripped by their visual and physical beauty. Sometimes I zoom out and wonder if I’ll ever tire of drawing/painting them… but there’s no other subject that inspires me like they do.

I sometimes feel silly when people ask “oh you’re an artist, what do you draw?” And I strammer out “oh, animals, nature… mostly equines.” Because I don’t think non-horse people can understand it.


My joy, my refuge, my best anti-depressant. My oxygen.




When non horse people ask me why I ride and especially with how hard the work is caring for them etc. I describe riding as just being zen. I am totally in the moment when I ride. I’m just feeling what the horse is doing and responding. It’s very zen to me. Also, I love horses, and I am miserable when they are not an enormous part of my life. I can’t dabble.


I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t infatuated with them. My first memory of being around real, live horses was when I was probably 3 or 4 and there were horses in a pasture behind the sports field where my brother played soccer. Some of the older siblings would go back there to the fence and the horses would come up. I remember being just amazed at them. And throughout my entire childhood, horses were my obsession. We didn’t have the means or resources to have one for quite a long time, so I settled for Breyers and watching them in movies and on TV (ETA: and reading about them and looking at pictures of them in books, and drawing them, and writing my own stories about them). But eventually the day came when we found out about a place to take riding lessons and at 13, my parents agreed. Now, my mother had horses growing up, and my grandmother was a horse lover as well, so I do think it was maybe in my blood as well. But needless to say, after my first riding lesson, I was hooked, and “the barn” became my world. About a year later, I had my first horse (a totally inappropriate choice, but we learned together and became quite the dressage/eventing duo in a few years). On my 15th birthday (celebrated at “the barn” of course), when it was time to blow out my candles, I paused for a long while. When asked what was wrong, I said, “I don’t know what to wish for. The thing I’ve wished for as long as I can remember is standing out there in the pasture.” My mom nearly cried. (I wound up wishing to win a blue ribbon at our first show, and darn if we didn’t! First class!)

In March I’ll turn 50. I haven’t been horseless since that first horse. I owned my own farm for 20 years and have had several horses and a few of them I count as beloved family members. I sold my farm when two of my “lifers” crossed the rainbow bridge leaving me with one horse and too much farm to care for. I moved to “town” and have found the perfect place to keep him (after a couple of years at not-so-perfect places).

Horses are part of who I am. I could list all of the shows and accolades I’ve won over the years, but when it comes down to it, none of that really explains what horses mean to me. Because it’s never been about that. Sure, it was fun, and I was always proud of my horses and myself when we competed successfully. But at the end of the day, win or lose, I loved those horses. Red, Tigger, Calvin, Cooper, and Milton aren’t just animals that I owned and rode. They are a part of who I am. I learned so much from them. Things only a horse could’ve taught me.

I’ve said that Milton (who is now 15) will be my last horse. I’m pretty sure I’ll stick to that. He’s family, just like the others named above were. Once he’s gone (and hopefully that won’t be for at least another 15 years) I’ll be in my 60’s and probably ready to retire from teaching high school. I’ll need to cut back financially, and the horse is certainly expensive. So, while it makes sense to me right now, I do wonder what it’ll be like to be horseless. It’s not something I can wrap my head around because it’s been so long since I’ve experienced it. Maybe I’ll start collecting Breyers again, LOL.


They are what keeps me sane and grounded. They are peace and calmness and acceptance.

Even when my one gelding finds new are creative ways to hurt himself and challenge that peace! LOL

Seriously, there is just something instantly calming about walking in the barn and hearing the gentle nicker and kissing that soft nose. They don’t judge or expect or have an agenda. They just exist in the moment. And it always amazes me that, for such strong, athletic animals, how truly gentle they are.

I suppose, for me, part of my appreciation with animals is they don’t judge. I have a large facial birthmark. Growing up, kids and adults are not always kind when you look different and even if someone didn’t say anything, you can still see the “looks” you get from people…horses didn’t care. They didn’t even notice. They only judged me by how I treated them. That’s their gift to all of us.


No way can I explain what my horses are to me. For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to them. Learned to ride at 10 got my first POA at 13 and my first horse at 14 and have never been without one ( or more) since.

They are as much a part of me as I am, if that makes sense…


Starting with that feeling of awe, almost like worship, when as a child I got to be near a horse…fast forward to age 30. In a bad marriage with a domineering man who often left me alone to take trips he would enjoy. During one of those trips, I went alone to a party and met a woman who had a 5 y.o. gelding for sale, a son of Tuhutmos. Went out and rode him, fell in love. Husband returned, said “if you buy a horse I want a divorce “. I bought the horse.


What do horses mean to me?

Horses are the moment of quiet in a world gone mad, when everyone keeps turning the volume higher and higher and higher. Horses are a place where I can breathe, and be. Horses are my reason to keep trying, try to be braver, try to get stronger, try to be better, try to keep learning, try to keep going. Horses remind me to disconnect from the rage-bait of the world and to dial into the here and now. Be present. Be mindful. Recognize where my footsteps are landing and be gentle with them, and the path I leave as I go through life.

I met my mare when she was 5 weeks old. She left her dam all the way across the field (5-odd acres) to follow me back to my car. I think she would have climbed into my car with me that day if I tried. She hears my car in the driveway and starts calling. She whickers when she sees me. I am in a constant state of wonder that I have her in my life, that I am so fortunate to keep company of this creature so full of love and affection, who is so gentle, and so kind. She truly is the kindest entity I’ve ever met and I aspire to always work to be worthy of it.

I could live my whole life through and never pay back a fraction of what I owe the horses in my life for the lessons they’ve taught me, the things they’ve brought me, and who they have helped me become.
What do horses mean to me? Everything. Simply put - they mean everything.


An older friend and I were talking about this same thing the other day. Life with or without horses in it? And it’s not something you can explain. It’s either in your DNA or it’s not, and unless it is, you don’t really get it.
I don’t have an explanation or words for it. I just know it brings me an inner peace I don’t find anywhere else.


Simply, they remind me to live in the moment. Then I go home, and my dogs remind me to do the same. Funny how horse people are also usually dog people.