The Life Lessons You Learn From Horses
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The Life Lessons You Learn From Horses

They're more valuable than you think.

The Life Lessons You Learn From Horses
The Ranch at Rock Creek

"There is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse." - John Lubbock, "Recreation," The Use of Life, 1894

Something happens when you ride a horse; something undeniable, visceral - you feel it in your core. There is no feeling of freedom like that which comes when you canter a horse across a plain; the wind rushes through the horse's mane and gives you the sensation that you're not just riding - you're flying.

Horses change you. They heal you. They teach you. For me, horses have always been the missing piece in my life; I am incomplete when I don't have a horse to ride. I've even found, like many others, that being around horses eases the symptoms of depression and anxiety; perhaps because they, like other animals, are non-judgmental, or perhaps because they're so large and powerful - there is comfort in control, and there's no greater feeling of control than the ability to maneuver and direct a 1,500-pound animal. There's evidence that just two sessions of hippotherapy, or therapy through horses, can drive an individual's self-confidence, reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and calm anxiety. Horses teach you to grow, to learn, and to fly.

The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. - Arabian Proverb

My love for horses began earlier than I can remember; most little girls (and boys, too!) have that "horse phase" - you know the one. It's characterized by horse stickers, horse binders, horse key-chains, and playing "horses" on the playground (full disclosure - I did all of these things as a kid, and if it was still socially acceptable for me to have a horse pencil topper and wear horse t-shirts, I'd be doing it). But some never grow out of it, and I was one of those. I took my first lesson at twelve and won my first Best In Show title at thirteen. I cared more about horses than really anything else (arguably, I still do), and I made every effort to be at the barn as often as possible. Horses teach you to love deeply and to have true passion for the things you love.

Horseback riding has a reputation for being nastily competitive and cliquey and perhaps it's because horseback riding is so rooted in judgment and competition. I've seen this myself, and there are few things worse than feeling the eye of a judgmental rider on you. But riding horses, for me, has always been about more than winning, more than appearances, as evidenced by my first pair of tall boots, which I had to throw away last year after a re-soling and several duct-tapings. I never cared much about how expensive my boots were, or how great my saddle pad was. I just wanted to ride. I don't compete anymore, and I'm blessed to be able to go out and ride whenever I want. Horses teach you acceptance and tolerance because they accept and tolerate you as long as you pay them the same courtesy.

"It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must know how to fall." - Mexican Proverb

People ask me often what happens if I fall off. To be honest, it isn't really about if you fall - it's when. You expect to fall off, more than once. Riding a horse teaches you not to fear the actual falling-off, but to fall with grace. When you fall, you make a choice either to stay on the ground or to get back in the saddle. Horses teach you to take the good with the bad, and to never give up.

If you haven't ridden a horse - really ridden a horse - I'd urge you to find your way to a barn and get in the saddle. I recall a few rides with my old horse, Elliot, that very seriously changed my entire outlook. There's something about being on a horse that resets you, refreshes you, and makes you better. I am at my best when I am around horses - and I firmly believe that man and horse are a pair that rivals man and dog. In short - horses teach you everything you need to know.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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