May 1-7, 2011 is National Pet Week. In the spirit of recognizing our bond with animals, some local young equestrians have offered their insight into the horse-human relationship.
Madelyn, age 10, has a Paint Pony named Valentine that she has owned for about 9 months. Hannah, age 13, is a new rider that is leasing an older Westphalian schoolmaster named Wrisky. Katherine, age 11, has had her Haflinger Pony Murphy for 9 years, and has been riding most of her life. Megan, age 14, has had her horse Buddy for about 5 years, and has also been riding most of her life.
The human-equine bond is certainly not a new relationship, and can be dated back centuries. The elements of this bond have certainly changed over the years, as the role of the horse has moved from that of a farm animal used for work and transportation to that of a companion animal. Most any rider can tell you that they and their horse share a complex, almost magical bond. Hannah sums up the relationship she has with her horse Wrisky, “I love him and he loves me. I love and enjoy riding him and taking care of him. He loves and enjoys my company. We love and trust each other”.
The rapport shared between a horse and rider is ultimately made up of trust, as feelings and emotions from both partners have to be worked out and acknowledged to establish a working relationship where the end result is a seemingly effortless, harmonious ride.
People benefit from their human/horse relationship in a multitude of ways. Katherine, age 11, describes the partnership she has had with her pony Murphy over the last 9 years, “My pony is very gentle and loving. I feel happy when he greets me each day with a whinny. He is very excited when we are out on the trails because he is peppy but easy to control. He makes me feel happy and joyful when we are riding”.
Relationships with animals can be less emotionally complicated than those with people. Horses are loyal, sensitive to our emotions, and of course offer a non-judgmental ear to our problems, making it easier for us to be open and honest. In Madelyn’s words–“My pony has made me more confident in myself so I talk to a lot more people now than I used to”. Katherine says that she feels “proud I have learned to ride and control my pony. He is quite large and strong, and it gives me confidence that I have learned to control such a big animal and still have so much fun”.
The horses’ benefits of the relationship are fairly obvious–people supply a constant source of meals, veterinary and blacksmith care, shelter and fields safely away from predators, as well as regular grooming. Megan certainly thinks that Buddy enjoys having someone to care for him. Some riders might also make a case for horses enjoying the exercise and learning what is involved in a riding regimen. Katherine thinks her horse Murphy enjoys “all the treats and pats the most”. Besides treats, Madelyn thinks her horse shares her passion for jumping–“some horses are forced to do a certain job, and we do what both of us likes to do”!
Riding is a simple way to escape the stress from other areas of life. Whether you have a horse, cat, dog or other animal in your life, be sure to take time to reflect on the special bond you and your pet have. Count yourself as lucky to be able to share your life with your beloved pet!