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Ashley Holden


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Why I Can Never Love Him the Way I Love Horses

Photo by Ashley Holden.

I just got back from the barn. My hands smell like they petted sweat, soaked in leather conditioner and then air-dried with a sprinkling of dust and I don’t want to wash them because they smell like comfort. This is a smell I am familiar with, one that reminds me of my very reason for existence. The sound of chewing and a deep heavy sigh brings me back to reality every time I feel lost.

This is why I can never love him the way I love horses. He can’t listen without interrupting, he can’t sense with his entire being when I am nervous or scared. He can’t replace the profound sense of peace I feel on a bareback hack through the woods after a long day at work or provide me with a sense of power and connectedness on a gallop through the meadow that one could only describe as freedom. Horses are the rhythm of our souls — I don’t know about your meditation cushion but mine is fuzzy and warm.

Photo by Ashley Holden.

During my last riding lesson, my instructor explained that my leg position was too far back and in an attempt to counterbalance, I was leaning forward to overcorrect, and in response my horse was rushing. “That makes sense. So what makes a good rider isn’t so much avoiding losing your balance, but how quickly you can find it again,” I said. These epiphanies often come when I’m in the presence of horses. It is the only time I can escape the constant chatter in my head because I’m fully present in my body and thinking of one thing at a time, relax your thigh, TURN, don’t run into that jump or don’t fall off. This has become my life motto lately, I know I’m going to lose my footing, but how quickly can I get myself back on the right track? Life is a dance and horses have a humorous way of reminding you that you actually are not in complete control at all times.

Tell me, what kind of 1,200 pound animal allows someone a fragment of its size, who resembles a predator, to manipulate every fiber in its body and do so willingly: a horse. They will be there when you lose a loved one, get dumped (if they are kind, they will stick around politely when they are the dumper). They will stand noble and stoic when you fall apart like a child by their side, holding onto their neck for dear life. They will also force you to revisit what your part was in the disconnection. Did you push too hard? Did your will to succeed or meet a goal within a certain time frame override your trust in the partnership? Did you miss an amazing opportunity because you judged a certain horse too early instead of seeing its potential?

Photo by Ashley Holden.

With horses you will come to know yourself in the most intimate way. They require you to be completely present in your body so that you can be one with theirs in a way that you may not feel vulnerable or safe enough engaging in with another person out of fear. Love that crosses two species is the most spiritual and rejuvenating love that we can come to know and it takes an intuitive, brave and courageous soul to be in a relationship with a horse. That is exactly what we are, as horse-people, we are lovers of these fascinating beasts and nothing will ever compare to this love. This love will always ground you, even in the darkest of times.

Photo by Ashley Holden.

When he says “You would probably choose your horse over me” he is right. I, for one, will always choose horses over men. It takes a special man to emotionally support an expensive, addictive, all consuming habit without harboring jealousy but if he or she truly loves you they will understand that you are a better and more fulfilled person when you spend more time surrounded by the one thing you are most passionate about.

The most touching lessons are received with horses, oftentimes in silence and you can’t find them anywhere else. It’s just a special thing you both share that is sacred and deserves the utmost respect.