There are lots of reasons I love horses. I imagine there are lots of reasons anyone reading this blog loves horses! But I will be the first to admit to you there are some slightly odd reasons I love horses. Perhaps even “really odd” or straight up “weird”… I’ll let you decide.
Weird like my pony’s face.
I think sweaty horse smells good
Yep, I said it. I think that horses after a workout smell pretty damn good. Gray horses excepted — sorry gray lovers. There’s just something about gray horses that smells a little funny, more like wet dog than horse. Maybe it’s from a childhood of riding mostly during summer camp instead of during the year. I don’t know why. I just love it. And I don’t mean “it’s a hundred degrees out and I stepped out of my stall sweating bullets” sweat, I mean “I just did an awesome conditioning set in the fields and raced the barn manager’s daughter and her thoroughbred and it was AMAZING” sweat. It smells like hard work, honesty, and love.
I am an inveterate picker, it’s one of the traits I share most with chimps. (You should see a chimp go crazy on a pimple sometime!) If I have a scab, I worry it until it’s all peeled off. If Ellie has a patch of funny hair, I pull it out. Horses — especially Murray — are a veritable cornucopia of shit you can pick off them and feel like you’re “helping” them while you do so. Murray is constantly covered in scabs that I can peel off, little burrs or fox tails buried in his mane and tail, ergots that can be trimmed down. There’s all kinds of currying, manes need pulling, tails need banging, and there’s always CHESTNUTS. Chestnuts, you beautiful, groomer’s daydream. Always peely, and they look better flat anyway, and it doesn’t hurt anything! Then there’s abscesses. Do not pretend you aren’t a little morbidly fascinated with abscesses. The internet is in love with them. I have seem just the foulest and yet most fascinating stuff come out of some horses’ skin. And it is awesome. And you get the clean them every day when they have them!!!
I like being held to a higher standard
Maybe this isn’t just a riding thing, but I like when my trainer tells me I can do better. I love being told that I’m doing well, and I love it even more when I’m told that I can improve. It’s not just that I should do better, or should ride better, or should be better, but that I can do it. That someone, other than myself, holds me to a high standard is pretty awesome.
I love being covered in dust and sweat at the end of a hot day
There are definitely Summer days when I will spend the entire day at the barn (and Fall days, and Winter days, and Spring days… it’s not necessarily limited to Summer!). I’ll ride my pony, ride other peoples’ ponies, clean tack, move jumps, turn horses in and out, and lately, garden. And after all that I come home at the end of the day covered in dust and sweat and salt and horse and, let’s be real, probably some poop and I love it. It feels like an honest day’s work — though I didn’t do anything income-producing at all. It’s a really good kind of tired feeling. And then showering feels AMAZING when you finally get to it. It’s only slightly disconcerting to see the water run down the drain all brown and dirty.
Okay, so possibly not such a weird one here, but if you think about it, liking the smell of another animal’s semi-digested food and unbrushed teeth is at least a little weird. You know when your horse breathes on you and you’re just like ahhhhhhhhh pony smell? Yeah, love that. Even better after a mouthful of grass!!
I will often pick up my grain while out running an errand and might not make it to the barn for a day or two. In the central valley, that means that it heats up a little and my whole car smells like delicious, delicious grain. Sometimes the rolled barley smells a little vinegary but no matter. Stable mix smells absurdly delicious. I would probably eat it with a spoon if I were hungry enough.
I like it when Murray looks sad/defeated
We’ve been having a lot of discussions lately, Mr. Murray and I, and I’ve been winning them. (YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!) And after I’ve put a solid kibosh on one of Murray’s absurd demands that he get to run all over the barn aisle while I’m tacking up and instead insisted that he stands quietly without moving, he always looks a little miserable. It’s a very “I have the worst life ever” kind of look. And if I have any humor left over from the fight, I have to say, I think it is hilarious. I don’t think I’m a mean person, or a mean-spirited person, but I think Miserable Murray looks hilarious.
Along the same lines, I love it when a really naughty pony is having their butt kicked by someone who totally has their number. The look on their faces when they realise they can’t get away with anything is priceless. PRICELESS.