One of the countless reasons why animal enthusiasts usually identify themselves as animal lovers is because we cherish how our animals reciprocate our feelings. For example, I love being excited to see my dog when I get home. I especially love his ‘I’m so excited that I can’t contain myself and my tail is about to wiggle right off my bum!’ level of excitement.
Every horse is unique, and therefore every rider’s relationship with his or her horse is special.
When I head out to the barn to ride my horse, I can’t wait for us to start our interaction. I’ll walk past her stall and say, ‘Hi, girl’ as I head to the arena to check in with my trainer, and she’ll pick her head up and give me an acknowledging glance.
Some might argue this is not an ‘acknowledging’ glance but only recognition of sound outside her stall. To you, naysayer, I challenge you to befriend a horse. I will anthropomorphize my horse’s actions like it’s my job, but I also believe that my mare knows me, and our interactions are unique to our relationship.
With the disclaimer that it may be technically rude behavior by some standards, or it may be something she does for every rider at the barn, here are some things my horse does that make me feel special:
- She rubs her head on my back after we’re done riding. I know I shouldn’t let her use me as a scratching post, but sometimes it’s so cute I can’t resist.
- She walks up to me when I stand outside her stall – even if she’s got a fresh flake of hay.
- She puts her head down when I’m bridling her and lets me ensure her forelock is perfectly separated from the rest of her mane.
- She eagerly anticipates her cookie after a good ride. She motions toward my left breeches pocket. (It only took one post-lesson cookie for her to learn of this potential treat location.)
- After a ride together, she gives me a sweet nuzzle in the brief moment in between me taking off her bridle and putting on her halter.
- If I round the corner while she is in the cross ties, she’ll absolutely stand more alert and get a sweet ‘please give me attention’ look in her eye.
- When I bring her back to her stall and take off her halter, even if there’s still hay waiting for her, she’ll let me give her a hug. This hug is possibly my favorite moment at the barn.
How about you? What things does you horse do that make you feel special?
Allison Griest is a freelance writer based in Texas. Follow her on Twitter: @allisongriest.