Women and horses – they’ve been the perfect pair for generations. Millions of little girls all over the world dream of having a horse, horseback riding, or just being able to spend time with horses. Many have to make do with My Little Ponies or Breyer Horses; however, the desire for that connection with real horses remains strong in many women throughout their adulthood.
Merriam-Webster.com defines empathy as: The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. Basically, that’s a long way of saying that one is in tune with the feelings of others.
This is a two-way street with women and horses. Horses are very quick to sense our emotions and moods. When we have a down day, spending time with a horse can bring a sense of calm. Feeling that soft muzzle or looking into those warm eyes can make the worries of the day disappear. We connect with horses on a different level than people, possibly even our household pets. That connection helps us to better understand and accept ourselves.
There’s a quote that pops up often on sites featuring inspirational stories and quotes about horses, “To ride a horse is to fly without wings.” Usually we associate this quote with riding, but it’s equally appropriate to just spending time with horses.
For busy women who are dealing with family, job, kids (especially with home-schooling during the pandemic), freedom is a precious commodity, and just being with a horse can be transformative. Ten minutes spent grooming a horse while forgetting about what’s for dinner, what time is the Zoom meeting tomorrow, and how on earth are you going to help your high-schooler with her calculus quiz could be the best dose of freedom you’ve had all week.
While there’s a debate about “traditional gender roles”, the fact remains that most families rely on the Moms, daughters, aunts, sisters, or grandmothers to be the nurturers. We live to care for others (which is why flight attendants always tell you that in case of emergency, you should put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. Trust me, this is pretty much aimed at Moms).
As nurturers, we’re drawn to horses because they are the perfect recipients of our care. Unlike teenage children, they rarely roll their eyes or slam their bedroom doors – definitely a boost for our loving and nurturing natures.
Horses also embody a magical blend of strength and vulnerability. Their nobility has been captured in art as far back as cave paintings, and modern horses need to depend on us for their basic needs of food, water, shelter, and companionship.
You only need to look at a horse to see the strength contained in the thousand pound package of muscle. Horses have worked for humans for millennia. Whether our ancestors needed to plow, to get into town, or to move across the country – chances are it was horses who powered the activity.
Today we see horses’ strength helping wounded veterans deal with PTSD, helping children on the autism spectrum find connection, and helping improve the moods of adults with Alzhiemer’s.
Their physical strength invites us to see strength in ourselves, which in turn can deepen our understanding of how we can show up as a source of strength for others.
5. Spiritual Connection
For many women, the connection with horses surpasses the physical and emotional components and becomes a spiritual bond. Horses have an innate way of reflecting back to ourselves our own strengths and weaknesses without judgement. Finding complete acceptance and a deep connection with horses encourages us to cultivate gratitude and live our best lives.
We know there are more than five reasons why women and horses make a perfect pair. Please share your reasons in the comments below.
Guest Blogger: Penny Hawes is a lifetime horse owner, rider, trainer and coach. Her articles have appeared in the USDF Connection, Dressage Today, The Chronicle of the Horse, as well as other regional and national magazines. Learn about her coaching at https://thehorseylife.com/calm
Jody Miller is a professional photographer specializing in Horse Photography, Equine Photography, and Equestrian photography. Her work can be viewed online here in her gallery section, and she is also featured at these Arizona Galleries: Van Gogh’s Ear Gallery on Whiskey Row in Prescott, AZ and Coops Coffee House at Talking Rock Ranch.