When you’re around horses every day, they can become such a normal part of life that you sometimes forget just how unique and interesting they are. But it can become very clear again whenever you and your horses come into contact with the many people who are unfortunately far removed from the equine world. This has become apparent to me many times over the years while traveling with horses through urban areas on the way to horse shows.
It’s usually all business when hauling horses—the aim is to get them to their destination and off the trailer as soon as possible, so breaks are brief and are usually limited to fast food places and refueling stops. But these brief pauses in the trip can lead to some interesting encounters.
“Look—horses!” some little kids in the next vehicle point and shout as I put gas in the truck. They’re so delighted and excited to see my gang of equines, it makes we wonder if they’ve ever even seen a horse in person. Perhaps not. “They’re so cute!” “Wow, look at them!” “That one is brown!” “I like the grey one! Can we get horses someday, mom?” Smiling, the mom sighs and says “I don’t know, maybe someday…” And they pile into their minivan and drive off, into the heavy traffic and whatever urban chores await them. I wonder if they ever will get horses, or if this encounter was the closest they’ll ever be.
At the next stop, I’m parked in the “trailers here” section of a fast food place parking lot, eating a hamburger in the front seat. A couple of parking spaces away a boy shouts “Hey, Tex!” to me and then cracks up laughing. I don’t get it at first, and then I realize he’s referring to my cowboy hat, which must make me stick out like a sore thumb in this world of concrete and glass. That’s okay—I’ m only passing through.
Everywhere we stop, people are attracted to the horses like magnets. An elderly couple ambles by and makes small talk about the horses they used to own, and how it’s a shame their grandkids can’t be around horses more often. A tough-looking guy stops and stares at the trailer, then smiles when he sees it has horses in it. “Hi, buddies,” he calls softly to them. I smile; that’s what horses do to folks. My horses get waves, cheers, shouts, and plenty of “awwwws.” On the road, passing cars slow down to take a look. Seems like most everyone loves horses.
In each of these cases, the reactions of the people make it clear that it’s made their day just to see my horses with their faces out of the trailer windows when I’m parked. It’s just something people don’t get to be around often—or ever!—and it seems to brighten their day. And that makes my drive through the city—horses in tow—just a little nicer.
Daniel Johnson is a freelance writer and professional photographer. He’s the author of several books, including How to Raise Horses: Everything You Need to Know, (Voyageur Press, 2014). Dan’s barn is home to Summer, a Welsh/TB cross, Orion, a Welsh Cob, and Mati and Amos, two Welsh Mountain Ponies. Follow him at www.facebook.com/foxhillphoto.