In college, my city-raised friends were all shocked to find out that their token redneck friend neither owned a horse or had ever ridden one outside of festival pony rides and sitting on them for pictures at the fair. Here’s the thing about horses: they aren’t very cost-efficient in row crop agriculture. They’re expensive to buy and keep, they require a lot of work, and aren’t really a relevant part of most of the ag that is going on in our section of Illinois.
That said, I’ve always wanted horses. I’ve always loved them. I’ve had geek-out stages in my life where I was horse-crazy. I love color genetics in most animals, and horses are no different. (In fact, horses are even more fascinating than most animals because of the sheer number of modifiers and dilutes that are out there.) But, I’m not a horse person by any means.
I did not, however, plan on falling in love with the feeling of being on top of a horse. And upon realizing how perfect is was, I wished even more that I had been exposed to this at a young age. Jodi said i had some natural potential, but Jodi is also absolutely sweet enough that she’d say that just to see me get a big cheesy grin.
But, sitting on the back of a gentle, aging gelding who was an absolutely fabulous escort to a horseback newbie, I was caught by the profound measure of partnership that comes from achieving a goal with an animal. Pete could have very well tossed me or stopped listening to me. Pete could have very easily have decided that I didn’t need to have the privilege of his company and his transport. But, Pete didn’t. Pete, even when he was slowing down and was reluctant to follow Jodi and her younger horse, Gator, was a fantastic host.
Pete, aside from a fantastic personality, is the product of years of hard work and exposure and a trusting partnership with the humans in his life. This got me thinking about how much I envy the people who get to regularly enjoy this partnership between man and beast. All I did was sit on a horse’s back and direct him in the general directions that we needed to head. I stayed in the saddle when things got fast or rough, and I managed to not tick off the horse I was sitting on. I can only imagine how beautiful it is to REALLY work alongside (or rather, atop) these beautiful creatures to achieve a goal (aside from leisure, that is).
Jodi joked that someday I’ll be good enough to be free labor when they need someone to help move cattle. While I’m not sure she’s entirely accurate in her assessment of my skill, I will say this: from here on out, I hope there’s a whole lot more horse in my life.
I would list my friends who work with horses either for competition or ranching work (or both), but this blog post would never ever if I did that. I’d have too much to say about how much I admire them. If it weren’t for folks like them who know the craft and understand the tricks of the trade, I wouldn’t get the joy of watching the magical relationship between a person and a horse. And, I’d probably never get the opportunity to sit on top of one and learn.
So, from a young lady who wishes she was a cowgirl: thank you.
Special thanks to Jodi Oleen for taking the time to be my mentor in all things horse. Thanks for being my supplier and enabler for this new drug! Also, thanks for being my family away from family and my home away from home. It means the world to me.