Do you regularly find yourself explaining/educating/justifying/rationalizing/defending your "horse habit"?
Do your parents/friends/co-workers/brother's children mock your passion and belittle the time, energy and effort you put into your beloved equine?
Then this article is for you!
Simply send the link to the offending person and encourage them to read through the following horse riding myths.
Although (from personal experience) it is usually very difficult to teach a skeptical person the method behind the equine madness, perhaps a little list outlining the most commonly-held falsehoods will begin to point them in the right direction!
1. Horse riding is for the rich.
How many people do you know who worked their way to one riding lesson a week? Some of us cleaned tack, scooped poop, groomed and tacked up horses for other riders! Then, some of us who bought horses into adulthood did so with careful budgeting plans, sharing our horses through part-boards and maybe even giving up on our own personal comforts to find the most affordable boarding situations we could find.
It is true that the bill on horse maintenance can be limitless depending on what you want, but look carefully and you will find many average earners with average jobs with an above-average passion for equines.
2. Horseback riding is easy.
We've already discussed this topic in our musings about what "they" say about horseback riding, so I'm going to cut to the chase and say it: horseback riding is NOT easy. Just getting on, allowing an animal six times our size dictate where we go when and coordinating the body sufficiently to not fall off is enough of a feat in itself.
Making it look easy is even more of a challenge, and most of us spend our entire riding lives perfecting our skills to do just that. The riders who appear as if they are just floating along while the horse does all the work are precisely the ones who are busting a gut and sweating behind the scenes.
3. Horses require very little care.
It is true that horses can be left to fend for themselves and possibly even thrive in a grassy pasture. But watch and learn over a few seasons to discover that at the minimum, the pasture needs maintenance. The horses need fresh water and grooming. Once the pasture dries out/runs out/grows over, the horses will soon need hay supplemented to their grazing area.
Add to that any expectation for performance, and you will notice that the horse will need regular handling and training, better grooming, improved feed for a more balanced nutrition and better overall general health care and worming. Showing adds even more requirements: a regular vaccination and general health schedule, a higher quality of muscling and sheen to the coat, neater tails and manes and better behavior.
Committing to caring for and riding horses is not a task to be taken lightly. It does add up in time!
4. Horses are like dogs but bigger.
This one takes very little time to figure out. Horses are prey animals and dogs are predators. Aside from being companions to humans, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of social dynamics and behavior. As prey animals, horses have a highly developed flight or fight instinct (mostly flight in our domesticated horses) and tend to be resistant to hanging around long enough to make detailed observations about a threatening situation.
Horses respond differently to humans as leaders and communicate on a completely distinct level from dogs. Long-time dog owners switching over to horse ownership discover quickly that the cuddling, food-rewarded training techniques used on their dogs don't go very far on their horses. Soon enough, if they listen carefully, they learn a whole new language reserved especially for their equines!
5. Horses "love" people like we love them.
It takes time to learn to accurately interpret equine communication. What we think of as developing a loving attachment might not be exactly how the horse interprets it. Perhaps he connects with you because you have spent years developing a communication system that he is familiar and comfortable with. Perhaps he nickers and turns in your direction because he knows you will be feeding him shortly after your arrival to the barn!
Although so many books and movies have portrayed undying bonds between horses and their humans, don't be too disappointed if you begin to understand that the horse merely expects you to be another herd member! This is true and right and simply the way of the horse.
Share any other myths in the comment section below!
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If you enjoyed the above article, you might like the following:
Riding is Simple, But Not Easy! Let’s face it – all we want is for the horse to do what we want, when we want, where we want, with suppleness and strength!
Ask 25 Horse People One Question…: … and get 25 different answers! What to do with all the opinions out there.
The Top 8 Perks of Horse Keeping: Here are a few positives that keep us going when everyone else is enjoying their leisure time.
14 Reasons to Love Horseback Riding: There must be hundreds of reasons why people enjoy horses and horseback riding. Here are fourteen.
Top 10 Annoying Riding Habits: Enjoy this tongue-in-cheek list coming from the opposite perspective – things NOT to do while riding!