Women and horses…an intoxicating combination. Why is it that women are so seductively and powerfully attracted to horses? Horses capture our hearts and imagination at an early age. Many women confess to being horse crazy growing up, a desire some of us never outgrow. We may take a leave from horses during university, raising our children or building careers, but as our wisdom years approach, we magically find our way back to horses.
Horses offer us intimacy, deep friendship and partnership, often more so than in our human interactions. In the horse community, strong bonds are often developed between women, as they receive validation from the horses and each other. Women’s affinity for horses can possibly be explained by their many similarities such as a strong intuitive nature, a deep desire for community, harmony, nurturing and feminine characteristics.
Girls and women who have the chance to spend time interacting with horses gain important life skills such as confidence, assertiveness, focus and heightened intuition, all crucial when caring for and riding or handling a 1000+ pound animal prone to fight or flight at any moment. Horses can show us where our strengths lie and where we need to learn more by asking us to set clear boundaries, to be specific and to trust ourselves.
As a young girl I lived and breathed horses. I read every single book on horses I could get my hands on. Walking home from school I was sure I could see hoof prints in the gravel along side of our suburban Montreal neighbourhood, even though in reality there wasn’t a horse for miles. I would spend hours in my backyard setting up jumps and convincing my dog to jump
them, pretending of course that he was a horse! Any money I earned from my paper route, babysitting and bottle collecting went towards the $2.00 fee it cost to “rent” a horse for an hour at the riding stable, a two-hour bike ride from home. I rode horses every time I had the chance, which for me, was never often enough. While other children played games on the beach and swam during our yearly summer picnic, I lined up over and over again for the pony rides, begging and harassing the owner to let me lead, pet and feed the horses as just the riding was never enough.
My heart has always been completely lost to horses. I was 18 and working at my first full-time job before I could afford to take formal riding lessons. Even at that young age, I experienced a stillness and focus around the horses that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I could leave everything behind for the few hours of bliss I found at the stable. My riding instructor, Len Weigh, was my hero. After an exhilarating riding lesson through field, forest and stream, I reach up on my tiptoes to remove the bridle from Teddy, a coal black draft/thoroughbred cross, as he gently lowers his head for me. Leading him to the pasture, he waits patiently as I open the gate and release him, rewarding him with an apple or carrot. I watch him shake his lovely head, tousling the mane I had just lovingly combed, and slowly saunter off to join his pasture buddies.
“In any suburban library today, the children’s and young adult’s sections are literally stuffed with horse stories, most of them written for girls. … Women and horses emerge in life and literature as a huge tribe of spiritual sisters.”
As quoted by Mary D. Midkiff in She Flies Without Wings.
Women who share their lives with horses acknowledge that arriving at the barn after a busy and stressful day at work cleanses and restores their soul. Horses accept us as we are, and help us focus in the moment, releasing everything else for the time we are with them.