dream horse
Photo Credit: NBanaszak Photography

Horses have given to us in so many ways that it can become difficult to measure their contribution to humanity. In history, horses were literally beasts of burden, walking beside or carrying people to their successes as societies and civilizations. These days, horses have been relegated to a perhaps more simple life as either livestock or recreational pets, once again dependent on their human counterparts for their safety and relevance in society.

On a more personal level, horses continue to contribute to our lives in very specific and measurable ways. Here are six reasons why I thank my horses for their impact on my life.

1. Self-Development

I'm not sure if I was a life-long learner before I ever rode, or if horse riding has made me into a life-long learner. Regardless, there is no doubt that you will never finish learning how to ride. There are infinite levels of pretty much every skill and idea that goes into riding, and just when you think you know it all, your horse calmly throws you a new curve that makes you dig into the depths of your character and come up with something you had never realized to that point. Yes, it is true that horses help us humans develop humility and selflessness.

2. Exercise and Athletic Growth

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Invariably, riding keeps you active, flexible and vibrant. The horses keep me heading to the great outdoors even in the direst of weather conditions, if only to make sure that they are comfortable, fed and warm/cool as required by the season. Regular riding also plays an important part in developing and maintaining my level of activity - and the best part is that the better I get at riding, the more fine-tuned my body needs to become to respond even better to the horse's movements.

3. Generosity of Spirit

Day after day and ride after ride, I marvel at the horses that allow us to share in their strength and presence through riding. Not only do they carry us and go left and right as commanded, but they also often become partners in movement and do their best to respond to our sometimes unclear or ineffective aids.

4. Keeping Us Grounded

Although there is most definitely the aura of excessive-ness (and expensive-ness) surrounding the riding or owning of horses, it is ironically the horses that keep me earth-bound and in my place. For if you have the opportunity to care for the horses, and put some sweat (and sometimes tears) into their upkeep and maintenance, you will know what it means to be one person just doing what needs to be done without the expectation of any reward other than just meeting everyone's needs.

5. Making Friends

One thing I know is that no matter where I go, I can find and make friends in the horse world. I think that despite our differences of style and discipline, all horse people share one common interest - the horse. Many of my closest and  longest lasting friendships originally began at some horse event, barn or activity. Thanks to the horses, I have friends of all ages and from all over the country - and my social life is full of get-togethers with horsey friends. 

6. Beauty and Grace

Maybe you're like me when it comes to horses. To this day, I am captivated every time a horse kicks up his heels, arches his neck and gallops off into a joyful celebration of life. My 32-year-old Kayla still marches out to the field with a spark in her eyes and a bounce to her (very long) strides that reminds me every day of this beautiful and remarkable thing we call life.

Horses give us opportunities for experiences and growth that are not part of everyday urban living. I, for one, am always aware of the gifts that horses have given to me over the years. There is so much to be thankful for.

What have horses done for you? Let us know in the comments below.

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More fun reading:

Eight Legs Plus Two: A poem.

42 Ways to Learn, Play and Grow With Your Horse: Horses give to us in countless ways. We play, learn and grow with them, making horseback riding not merely a sport (which it truly is, like no other), but so much more.

5 Common Horse and Riding Myths: Do you regularly find yourself explaining/educating/justifying/rationalizing/defending your “horse habit”? Then this article is for you!

Moment of Beauty: Caught in the moment and recognizing it.

The Top 8 Perks of Horse Keeping: Here are a few positives that keep us going when everyone else is enjoying their leisure time.



  1. Remarkably well expressed as always. I have only owned horses for two and a half years: as a child and teenager I had regular riding lessons but never had my own horse. It is only now, thirty years later, than I am fortunate to have two beautiful geldings. They keep me fit and active and out every day, in all weathers. They totally fill up your world and each day make me want to be better rider. They have transferred my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  2. Another inspiring post. I’ve so enjoyed your HorseListening because of the subtleties you continue to encourage in our riding communication. Although I’ve loved horses all my life and engaged with them when I could, I didn’t have my own horse until I was 40. Now, 27 years later, I still have six. From Fairfield Finalist (Nat) on, each of the others has become a family member and taught me more about how generous and sophisticated the communication between our two species can be. I cannot imagine a more fulfilling way to live and thank you for the contributions you make.

  3. Giving thanks for Horse Listening’s every issue and for God’s magnificent creature, the horse!