Their eyes … how they look at you particularly with absolute love, trust & sometimes mischief. I feel to a degree we truly understand each other and “talk” to each other that way. My “red headed devil child”, Susie, a 3-year-old—I can jazz her up even more by just fun eye contact. Coco, my 6-year-old—she just melts in your eyes with love. Two very special & very different OTTBs.
Trisha Francisco, Florida
How I know he will ALWAYS be there for me!
Kimberly Anne Joy Suits, Virginia
I always smile with happiness when I see Rouxsue walking in her pasture. Such a beautiful suspended walk. I would swear she knows how happy she is. Watching her will fix any sour mood!
Leslie Alexander, Alabama
The little thing I enjoy most about my horse is looking at him. I am lucky enough to have him in my backyard, so I get to see him everyday! He is quite a handsome fellow, strawberry roan with big socks and a big blaze, so he’s easy on the eyes.
Rebecca Hopkins, Ohio
I love how Chip is never mad at me. He just gets his feelings very hurt. A good lesson to me and a reminder to always calibrate discipline to what’s appropriate!! He’s always forgiven me, too.
Julia Jensen, Indiana
Her honesty and purity, she is who she is, and there is no phoniness about it!
I love that my horse’s gentle, willing and forgiving nature has taught me more about the kind of person I want to be then many of my two-legged counterparts. I love that my horse provides cheap therapy and that he challenges me, inspires and motivates me. I love that he trusts me enough to try anything I ask of him (even when he would rather snort and run away with a tail flagging)!
I just love my horse’s happy-go-lucky expression. He looks so chill it helps me calm down too.
Julie Elizabeth Grace
Jacob is just like me personality-wise, so we always have fun together and can take on the world.
She’s willing! She loves me.
Connie Sue Gilkeson-Boggess
I love something I cannot explain. Between Soniadora and I there is an unspoken understanding that we are each other’s safe haven. Sonia will do no matter what I ask of her because she has learned I will never ask her to do something she does not already know how to do. She trusts me. I will ride her anywhere because she will go it of her way to keep me safe on trails or in arenas. On days I do not feel well she will trot like she is walking on eggshells. I trust her. At the beginning and end of each ride I look her in the eye and say “Thank you for being my friend,” and she nuzzles me back a “thank you too.” I can’t explain it. It simply is.
Rubbing her head on me after I take off the bridle.
Gabby Rivette-Corbin, Texas
Anytime I give him a good rub head or a scratch behind the ear, my gelding always presses his head against me and then I give him a big hug.
I love how my mare Taylor sticks her nose in my face so I’ll kiss it. Who says mares aren’t sweet?
Charlotte Blankenship, Indiana
I love the way my mare nickers when I go out to see her. She never whinnys, only soft little nickers.
Brandy Staton Bracken, Florida
Nothing better than when our 20-year-old hunter Bentley gives a whinny and nickers when he sees my daughter and I get out of our car! My heart melts.
Susan Frey, Texas
The one thing about my gelding that makes me happy are his whinnies and kisses I get every morning and every night when I arrive at my barn for feeding.
Mindy Miller, New York
My leased warmblood, Cowboy, always warms my heart when he lets out a little nicker when I near his stall. I also think he prefers me over his real owner, but <i>shhh!<i>
Claire Pida, California
I love the way my horse looks at me when I open the stall door. She puts her ears up and looks so happy to see me. She makes me smile every time I look at her!
Bethany Garrison, North Carolina
I love how my horse, Paris, looks for me while I’m in the barn. If I leave him to get brushes or my tack, he pokes his head out of the stall to find me, and then nickers when I come back into view. He’s a momma’s boy.
Claire Ziff, Alberta
No matter what kind of day I’m having, the little nicker my horse makes when I first enter the barn always makes me smile.
Nicole Rutledge, Ontario
No matter what kind of day I’ve had, I can count on my horse’s exuberant whinny (always greeting me as I get out of the car), to put a smile on my face. It’s the little things like that, that keep me going.
Nina Thornton, California
The thing about my 25-year-old Thoroughbred mare that always makes me happy is the sound she makes whenever she hears my voice or sees me coming out to the barn or paddock. She makes a sound that is part nicker and part whinny… it’s a low throaty sound that ends with a little “who-who-who” noise. I love that sound so much and it just reminds me every day that the affection I have for her is matched by the affection she has for me.
Kate Hanneman, Ohio
I love the way he yawns every time right after I take his bridle off.
Meredith Prechter Young, Georgia
I love it when Orion cocks his head every time I scratch him on his neck or behind his ears after our lessons.
Elisabeth Wiggin, Connecticut
He always comes right over when I call him, ears up, happy to see me and ready for treats.
Delia Lutz, Massachusetts
I love Dickens’ huge behind and the fact that he turns to me, annoyed, while I’m riding in search of Fritos or a ham sandwich or anything to make his butt bigger. Yes, he’s sometimes carnivorous and has stolen a ham sandwich. He’ll eat whatever comes his way, although Cherry Coke is his favorite.
Amy McCaffrey, Oregon
My horse is so sweet and gentle when given treats. He is 17.2 hands and is so quiet and gentle I don’t even realize he has it in his mouth. Then he gives me a kind look with his soft, brown eyes. I turn to putty!
Stephanie Smith, Oregon
I taught my pony how to “shake,” and whenever I have a treat, she gets excited and enthusiastically tries to shake my hand.
Rose Carlman, Connecticut
When I just stand by his stall and he softly starts licking my shirt and nickers, too.
Sara Bushong, Indiana
I love how King sticks his lips out and begs whenever I come back from the tack room, just knowing that I have a treat for him.
Lena Harrison, Oklahoma
My two horses are out to pasture all day and locked into a paddock by the barn at night. I have a great person who takes care of them when I am gone, but whenever I come back from vacation, they see me in the yard and come running at top speed. I always go over and say hi and give them some kisses and hugs, and they push each other out of the way, nickering as if to say, “Where have you been? We’ve missed you!” It never fails to make my day.
Jennifer Everard, Wisconsin
I LOVE that Junior is always happy. It doesn’t matter if he’s not feeling well, he is always so happy to see “his” people.
Julie Brown Dodd, Maryland
My mare always makes me happy because no matter how upset and down in the dumps I am, she knows that she comes first and never gives me a chance to worry about my issues.
Ellen Gregory, Mississippi
I love how I ask my horse to bow and he does it for a cookie. Two minutes later he does it again without me asking because he wants another cookie.
Amanda Pile, Missouri
The soft, gentle eyes that are filled with love and trust. My boy Sargent was a rescue who was so scared and scarred by his former owner. Now he is happy, loving and as sweet as they come. Looking in his eyes tells the horrible story of his past, but they are now the windows to his future.
Kimberley Brock, Oregon
His perseverance! My horse survived a horrific freak accident on June 28, 2012. Most people would have looked at a 30-year-old horse with a board in his head and said, “Put him down.” This was a totally survivable accident.
Tommie Ashley, New Jersey
I absolutely love my off-the-track Thoroughbred Sadie’s droopy lower lip.
Holly Williams Moyers, Kentucky
Harley recognizes his red “Gatorade bucket” after our rides. After a sweaty ride I scoop some powdered Gatorade (has to be fruit punch flavor) into a red bucket and fill it with water. He stands there literally licking his lips till he gets it.
Jo-Ann Galanis, New Jersey
When she walks away from the herd and comes straight to me when I go out to the paddock.
Caroline Feeley, Ontario
Whenever I give Markus a treat, he sticks out his tongue, sucks on it and goes to sleep.
Cynthia Hallman, Alabama
I love that anyone can ride or lead my 17.1-hand horse no matter how big, small, clumsy or otherwise impaired a person may be. He assesses each person with his big, kind brown eyes and seems to say with a nod of his head, “Yeah, I got you. No worries.”
Alex Wolff, Texas
I love that Sebastian has a strong personality. He loves to show off under saddle and be the prettiest. But he’s also a difficult ride, which makes me proud that I can ride him.
Jalal Burr, Alberta
The way he runs to the gate as soon as he sees my car drive up.
Sophie Petroutsas-Pateras, California
Read more answers to this question in the November 2012 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.