I grew up on a ranch, surrounded by horses, dogs, cats, cattle, and even a few sheep for stock dog training. It was normal to me. I loved it, but may have taken it for granted. Surely my parents could see how the environment shaped us as kids, and knew it was a wonderful opportunity. Now that I’m older I look back with a different perspective.
These are the top reasons why I’m thankful for growing up with animals, particularly horses!
- They always listen to our troubles, and never judge. Telling someone about your worries and sorrows is an important part of processing emotions. When it doesn’t feel like there is anyone around that would understand, your horse will. It’s a great way to hear and be conscious of what’s bothering us so we can move on.
- They teach us about trust and partnership. There’s something about climbing on top of an 1,100 pound animal that requires trust on our part! They could hurt us, but they don’t want to. They also trust us, allowing us to climb on their back and reach our arms around their neck. It’s the trust building process that touches my heart the most.
- They lead us into bravery. The ranch consisted of some rough country, and I can remember having no choice but to trust my horse. One wrong step, and we would have fallen to the bottom of the treacherous canyon. I wanted to get off when it was time to cross the shale rock that covered the steep mountain, but Dad said it was safer to stay on the horse. I didn’t want to cross it at all. I can look back and see how those fearful times that turned into accomplishments built my bravery as a child. I learned that I was capable of more than I thought.
- They teach responsibility. Taking care of horses is a big responsibility. They require daily attention. Feeding, stall cleaning, occasional doctoring, hoof trimming, grooming, saddling, exercising etc…it’s hard work! Learning to put our own needs second is a valuable lesson for kids.
- They teach us about love and relationships. They give to us, and we give to them. It’s a beautiful connection. We can achieve goals together that couldn’t be done without the unique partnership that evolves over time. Occasionally we lose one, and we learn about pain and healing. We learn that God can heal us and offer new opportunities.
- They teach hard work and confidence. Anyone that has competed in an equine event knows the level of difficulty involved. It takes hours of practice, failures, blood, sweat, tears and frustration. Kids learn that good things don’t come easy. It takes persistence, guidance, dedication and hard work. As they build skills, they build confidence.
Horses have so much to offer. I’m thankful to have them each and every day! Wishing you a wonderful ride this week!