Amateur Hour

My Horse Is My Spirit Animal

The Urban Dictionary defines “Spirit Animal” in this way:

In pagan religions and systems, a spirit animal or totem is meant to be a representation of the traits and skills that you are supposed to learn or have. Online, saying something or someone is your spirit animal is a statement that said person or thing is a representation of you or what you want to be.

Maybe we’ve grown together over the past four and a half years to become that in tune with one another. Maybe it is the time we spend together each week, the time we’ve spent at horse shows, the times we don’t do anything except hang out together eating candy. Or perhaps it is why he picked me in the first place, because he knew I was just like him.

But my horse Jorge is my spirit animal. Let me explain.

Jorge doesn’t like to be touched unless it is on his terms. Neither do I. Please stop trying to hug me, random people.

He hates being groomed and the time it takes to look pretty—oh, how I can relate! Though we are great at standing around gossiping in the aisle with our friends for hours on end while the brushes remain in the grooming tote.

Jorge is incredibly extroverted (guilty) and insists on being up in everyone’s business all the time (doubly guilty). We both bore quite easily.

We differ on our opinion of horse shows, as he told the pet psychic he didn’t mind going but wasn’t too keen on every single weekend. I’d be at a show every day if I could. Still, neither of us are caught up in winning.

We prefer summer, bright colors and enjoy standing in the warm rain.

Sometimes we are grouchy and aren’t afraid to let people know. Jorge and I are claustrophobic and like the ring to ourselves, lest we feel the need to attack anyone who gets too close. This struggle is especially real in the winter.

If we are wound up, good luck trying to work us down—won’t happen. Both of us can stay in a frenzied state for hours. You might try to wear us out, you can lunge and chase and feed us Xanax. But if we are past the point of reason, maybe you should put us away and try again tomorrow. It is doubly special when we are both in that mood.

We like to yell when we are hungry. And I must admit, we are starving all the time. We approach a good meal with the ferocity of lions, and yes, it often gets all over our clothes.

Speaking of, we like coats. Fancy, pretty coats. Lots and lots of them.

And finally, Jorge and I like wine. A nice cabernet is so much better when enjoyed with a friend.

So simply put, Jorge is my spirit animal. We know each other like the back of our hands and hooves. We are the bickering old married couple who secretly love the sarcastic battle in which we are eternally engaged. We understand each other better than most human couples, and definitely have to trust each other more as we hurl ourselves toward obstacles, hoping the other won’t screw it up in some way.

I don’t typically let other people ride Jorge because they wouldn’t understand or tolerate his quirks. The quirks, which, admittedly, I’ve allowed him to develop but delight me most days and piss me off others.

I know when he grabs the bit with the right side of his mouth and won’t let go it is pointless to fight and may cause you to get bucked off. He lets go eventually and you get on with your ride. Jorge, in turn, deals well with my bad back and the days I’m constantly shifting in the saddle to ease the pain.

I know just how far to push it before I hop off to chase him in the winter. He knows precisely how mouthy he can get, pulling on my coat or playing with my ponytail, before he’ll be yelled at.

Sometimes I’m convinced he understands every word I say. He’ll nod his head yes or no in agreement to some comment I’ve made about him to a friend. For example, a conversation recently took place in the aisle with the mom of a young rider. We asked Jorge if he would like to look pretty in the show ring with her daughter some day, hopping around the 2’. He laid his ears sideways and emphatically shook his head NO, seeming exasperated I would even ask.

I think it is because he knows deep down I’m far too selfish with him to share. And he is selfish enough to only want me, to know exactly what to expect every time we are together.

I have another best friend, too—my Paint, Reno. Reno is kind, gentle, a predictable steady-eddie who does his best to please. He won’t give you more than you ask, but he never questions. Reno likes us enough, though it might be the endless supply of treats he enjoys. He’s so incredibly tolerant of Jorge, who thinks it is just dandy I brought home a live chew toy for him.

©Jorna Taylor

Reno handles rides from seven-year old up downers to galloping around a hunter derby course at his first show like the professional he is. He innately knows who is in the saddle. Because of this, I love watching people ride him, particularly my mom as he absolutely adores her. Reno tries hard to do what is asked every single time. Is he always perfect? Of course not. But 99% of rides leave me smiling ear to ear.

©Jorna Taylor

Some days I wish I were more like Reno—laid back, consistent, ready to do what is requested without constantly pushing back. My anxiety levels would be significantly reduced and likely people would enjoy my company a whole lot more! Reno’s calming presence tends to level me out, reminding me it is okay to take a deep breath now and then. If I’m in a bad mood and have to pick which horse is coming out first, it is always Reno because he’s not affected in the same way by my neurosis.

His is a much healthier way to live, that’s for sure—and part of me is jealous. Of my horse. Which seems ridiculous when you put it in writing!

Alas, I’m Jorge. And Jorge is me. Sarcastic, high strung and more interested in socializing than working. Jorge and I need people like Reno around us, and I think we both understand the important role he plays.

Yet at the end of the day, there’s me and Jorge. He’s my best friend, my confidant, the source of frustration, the repairer of a broken heart…

My spirit animal.

I hope you all have your spirit animal, too.

About the Author

Jorna Taylor is your average obsessive horse owner, spending countless hours watching friends ride in circles in the dust or rushing home elated to find the new Dover catalog has arrived. She captures the more comical and interesting moments of her riding journey on her blog. Check it out at