The Magic of Girls and Horses!
The Magic of Girls and Horses!
No one can deny that horses hold a particular fascination with many girls and woman. The relationship that can develop between a girl and a horse has so many advantages. It can increase a girl’s self-confidence, athleticism, boost mental health and give practice to assertiveness. Horses often respond wonderfully to a girl’s admiration, gentleness and attention. Horses, as intuitive beings, have an innate ability to sense a person’s intentions and so some horses become as cooperative puppy dog as the relationship deepens. My own daughter, at age 11, bonded with her headstrong thoroughbred mare and was able to get her to do things the other horse’s prior owner’s never could. When asked what her secret was, she replied, “I let Royal think it’s her idea to do what I want.” Oh, is that all. 🙂
I had the wonderful experience of sharing my love for horses with my daughter. I look back on her introduction to horses and feel it was ideal and what I would have considered my dream childhood. My own horse life as a young, horse-obsessed girl consisted of sporadic incidents of riding a camp horse that lead to semi-regular horseback riding lessons as a teen at a show barn. I was on lesson horses and quite frankly was either completely ignored or looked down on by the other girls at the barn who owned and showed their own horse. I was not to be deterred though. I savored every moment which I went back over in my mind, again and again, until my next lesson. I stopped lessons around age 16 yrs. old after my dad passed away and life got more difficult. I was able to get back to riding, riding lessons and then owning my own horse(s) after I got married 28 years ago. We ended up buying a farm and I have owned horses ever since.
By contrast, my daughter was held on a horse while still in diapers. She owned her first horse at 3-1/2 yrs. old. Trixie was a broken down, skinny, arthritic, ancient pony I rescued and gave to her. She was delighted!! And Trixie was the perfect (safe) equine to guide her into her horse world experience! Trixie lived the last several years of her life as a queen and my daughter learned horse handling skills and horse care with a horse that was her size and above all, safe.
To my delight, my granddaughter is now showing signs of a love for horses at 2 1/2. Oh, what joy! To be so lucky to share my horse obsession with another little girl! And it is not just the fun times I am looking forward to, but the life lessons that horses offer in such beautiful, concrete ways to instill character skills like compassion, perseverance, assertiveness, leadership, cooperation and critical thinking skills. Horses often give to us who love them a sense of calm, a respite from anxiety, an adventuresome spirit and a community of friends, finding confidence in your body, body posture and being present, a reason to be in nature and the outdoors in all kinds of weather, and a memorable way of experiencing what happens when ‘things’ are not dealt with in a timely manner (stall cleaning).
Conversations with my young daughter about the dangers of ‘impolite’ or pushy behavior on the part of her horse or pony and how boundaries build an important structure in relationships were ongoing, in the everyday handling of our equines. She learned to set firm boundaries, without anger or aggression and saw the instant result of a happier horse and a relationship that grew and flourished. She learned how to ask for cooperation, play and have fun and get down to business in smooth transitions. Corrections were necessary, never punitive, and part of learning and growing. She learned how to problem solve, think thru situations before acting on impulse and set back and evaluate when necessary. She gained a sense of freedom, achievement and a quiet, steady sense of herself. I owe the horses who were on this journey with us so much!
Trixie, Hot Shot, Flicka, Thunder and Royal you were worth your weight in gold!!
A couple of other articles related to women/girls and horses.
Sue Steiner of Free Rein Art Studio