My Horse, Myself

A rider's stages of life parallel that of a horse's in unexpected ways.


Illustrations by Chris Ware

We develop a lifelong synchronicity with that glorious beast, the horse. As proof of my theory, I offer this comparative table of development.


Everyone thinks you’re adorable until you suddenly whirl and kick them in the shins.


Everyone thinks you’re adorable until you suddenly spit up on their cashmere sweater.


Despite having the face of a fawn, you harbor what seems to be a fiendish urge to head butt everyone, including your own mother!


Deep within your psyche lies the soul of an artist. Thus, you feel compelled to draw masterpieces on the livingroom wall.


Why did you chew off your own tail?


Why did you eat paste?
Horse and Human Life Stages


Yes, you must pick up the left lead.


No, you cannot drive Dad’s Porsche.

Pro Training

Now you’ll learn how to go on the bit, collect your canter, move laterally and execute flying lead changes.


Now you’ll aquire the education and skills that will (hopefully) get you a decent job so you can afford to continue riding.
Horse and Human Life Stages

First Show

Yikes! The far corner of the arena is scary!

First Job

Yikes! The boss is scary!

Prime of Life

As a testament to your years as a trustworthy and much beloved mount, you receive a leather halter with a brass nameplate. This accolade prompts you to act a little snooty toward the younger horses, especially in the crossties.


After years of overtime and some orchestrated groveling, you get a promotion at work. You even get a nameplate for your desk. With this new sense of empowerment, you feel it’s finally safe to wear your boots and breeches on casual Fridays.

Aged Equine

The vet says you have creaky joints. As a result, you’re put on daily supplements and get corrective shoes.

Active Senior

Your doctor says your creaky joints are due to age-related arthritis. He suggests hip replacement surgery. That very same week you receive your AARP card in the mail.
Horse and Human Life Stages

Retirement Activities
  • Collect treats and carrots from children.
  • Hang out with the broodmares.
  • Go barefoot.

Retirement Activities
  • Collect model horses.
  • Weekly lunches with your posse of riding buddies from “back in the day.”

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Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.


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