I love horses because they give me a sense of purpose. They nicker and whinny at me when they hear my footsteps. They need me to take care of them. They appreciate me. Right now I can picture my blind-in-one-eye Quarter Horse gelding, Rebel Ransom, looking at me, head a bit cocked so he can see, with a cute, "I love you, I'm happy to see you" expression. It fills my cup 'til it runneth over.
I love horses because they keep me young and in shape. Between hauling hay to the hay bins, raking scooping, and moving excrement, and hauling two buckets of feed to each of six horses, I get a twice-daily workout. When the snow gets too deep and the air too frigid to saddle up, I hand-walk them and trot them on the road for exercise and bonding time. Their sparkling and gleaming eyes give me the greatest satisfaction. I bury my face into their manes to smell their sweet scent. They nuzzle my reddened cheeks. I feel the warmth of their nostrils on my face. And I'm 51 years young and vibrant because of my horses.
I love horses because when I ride in the mountains or across the cornfields, I'm free--like the wind. It's just God, my horse, nature and me. I'm free--like the birds singing and the clouds drifting in the blue sky. When I'm on my horse I'm strong and brave, I'm everything I can be. I'm not someone's opinion of me, or what someone expects me to be, or what someone thinks I should be. I'm all the depth and breadth of me. While on my horse, I'm free to fly.
I love horses because when they are running in the pasture, their coats gleaming copper in the sun, their tales thrown high pointing to the heavens, they are free--to fly in all their God-given beauty and grace. And that gives me a purpose, to give them the freedom they give me.
Then when darkness falls early in the heart of winter, I curl up in my recliner with a blanket, hot tea or chocolate, and read articles about the benefits of barefoot, about spotting balance in conformation, about curing my buddy-sour Arabian mare (Charitys Flame), about riding with better balance or about starting my 3-year-old. I read Horse & Rider cover to cover and plan my springtime strategy to create more freedom on my horse.
Cynthia Dorr lives in Rio, Wis. Visit lynnpalm.com to learn more about Lynn Palm's programs.