At least one of us is getting an education…

1. How to say “no”

Or more accurately, “Hell, no.” Granted, this usually happens when I would really, really like my horse to cooperate. For example, during a farrier visit or, I don’t know, every other day when I’m just trying to get her to move her stubborn self.

But I gotta hand it to her—she’s 100% unapologetic about refusing to do anything she doesn’t want to do. And as someone who has often been roped into doing ridiculous stuff for other people, it’s a quality I somewhat admire, no matter how annoying it is at the other end of the lead rope.

2. Stick up for yourself

©Paul Arps/Flickr CC

Tired of that pushy alpha mare? Sick of that little sh*thead pony stealing your food? Gracie doesn’t put up with anyone’s crap, and that usually means a kick to the face or a nip in the direction of the offender. Granted, I don’t advise kicking or biting your enemies, frenemies or other herd members, necessarily… But I gotta say the girl’s got chutzpah in the self-defense department.

3. Be fearless

And if the offender happens to be a 17-hand warmblood with a water-trough sized head and small anvils for hooves, same story as above. Gracie’s only 15.1 hands but she’ll take on the biggest, baddest horse in the herd, no problem. Even if they’re gigantic and in way better shape than she’ll ever be. Even if they can kick her butt. Even if they will kick her butt. (She’s still got the scars to prove it… *facepalm*).

4. Enjoy your food

Okay, so she’s a little chunky. (The vet thought she was in foal…) Gracie can subsist on air and a single drop of morning dew…and still gain weight. But she doesn’t let that get in the way of her passion for eating. I’ve never seen her happier than when she’s got a mouthful of grass. I’m talking eyes half closed, smiling her horsey smile with her tail swishing kind of joyful abandon. Hey, life is short. Enjoy the little things, even if they make your, ahem, hindquarters a little bigger.

5. Get dirty

©smerikal/Flickr CC

It doesn’t matter how pretty you are, sometimes a prance through the creek, roll in the dust or stomp-around in the mud is just good for soul. Hey, that’s what they invented wash racks (er, showers) for.

6. It’s OK to (sometimes) let your guard down

©carterse/Flickr CC

Sometimes you gotta kick some butt and be tough (see numbers 2 and 3). But what I really love about my girl is her ability to be sweet when she thinks nobody’s looking. A gentle little nudge of the nose or a nicker and her head draped over my shoulder show me that despite her rough exterior, Gracie still loves me unconditionally. It’s those little moments that show me you can still be complex and caring without sacrificing your strength.

7. Be spirited

©John Wilkinson/Horse Network

Uh, yeah, did I mention attitude? No matter how well you think your horse is trained, there’s always room for surprises. Like, for example, the fake limp that Gracie develops as soon as you try to lunge her (and inexplicably clears up as soon as she’s turned back out). Or the stank-eye I get as soon as the hoof pick makes an appearance.

She’s far from “broken” and I gotta admit, it’s a quality I actually admire. But, you know, mostly when I’m not within her range.

What life lessons have you learned from your horse?

About the Author

Cassidy is a professional copywriter and full-time horse enthusiast who enjoys playing in the creek with her 17-year-old mare and eating french fries.