Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Of Women and Horses

Women have often found, at one age or another, they have a thing for horses. There are many explanations for this from suggestions riding a horse rubs us sensually (not in my experience) to the control of the beast is allegorical to the control of the man who we all know will never be controlled-- at least not the kind we often secretly covet.

I admit it-- horses are one of my fantasies. I put their thought aside for most of my adult years, but the dream of them and those who ride them returned with a vengeance in my senior years. They are a fantasy unlikely to be fulfilled in a physical sense, but they are satisfying to my imagination even if that is all they ever are.

As a girl having a horse was impossible as my father was allergic to them. He did give it a try once, having a horse on our farm. Even bringing the clothing into the house after our being with the horse soon made him sick, and the horse had to go.

Before the horse was sent away, I remember saddling him and taking him for a ride to the back of our property. I got a little nervous part way back and turned him around which was great with him, and he took off at a run. I pulled hard on the reins which stopped him as he was actually an obedient horse. Unfortunately I didn't stop as quickly and went right on over his head-- with no injuries except to my pride.

As a young married woman, my family and I took a trail ride back into the tall pines near Camp Sherman, Oregon. It was lovely, a dirt road and nothing but peace; until we turned toward the barns and the green horse I was on got in a tiff with another horse, did a little kicking, and took off at a gallop for the barns.

I recalled my earlier experience of going over a horse's head and knew the highway ahead was not where I wanted that to happen; so I just slid off the side of the horse to the ground, rolling (perfectly I might add) and avoiding any serious injury.

The dream of horses didn't end; and there were a few more trail rides; but for a lot of years, I put aside the idea of a horse of my own until a few years ago when I began to think what an ideal life would be like for me and realized it had a horse in it.

The current farm I am on does not have the right places for riding, has too many animals now, nor is the wet soil the best for horses; but in the back of my mind is that someday thinking-- even though I am almost 63 and know it's probably not wise someday thinking.

Thinking I should learn more about them, I have collected a lot of books on horse care, horsemanship and just the enjoyment of horses. One of my favorites in the latter category is Of Women and Horses. GaWaNi Pony Boy has put together a series of essays by various horsewomen on what horses have meant to their lives and art. The book is full of beautiful photographs, paintings of horses and the women of all ages who love them.

One of the passages in the book by Sarah Lynn Richards might explain the appeal of horses to so many women:

"As human beings, we, too, must make our choices, build our fences and remain safe or forsake safety for the riskier and more fulfilling life without them."

"Does this resemble in anyway the modern woman's struggle to exist? In her quest for safety, has she accepted the restrictions offered by her society? Don't bite, don't kick, eat this, drink this, look like this, walk like this, talk like this. Perfection equals protection? Has she internalized these complex familial and cultural standards and made them her own? If this is so, she has (unconsciously) struck a bargain. She will occupy only the space that is prescribed, she will take up less space than her natural or whole self would, but she will be safe. It is a trade-off, and may seem like a fair one, if choices are few. It is, however, the very state of this safety that prevents wholeness and growth for the individual."

Horses challenge safety. They are a risk. They offer something along with that risk-- as will most challenges we choose to face.


Dick said...

My two sons went to summer camp through many summers (for a week) during their elementary school years. One year, when they were both in junior high, we were a little late getting our reservation in and the only thing open was horse camp. They were not into horses but really wanted to go to camp, so reluctantly said to go ahead.

When we picked them up a week later we learned they loved it. Not so much that they discovered a love for horses, but they found out that the other campers were five girls for every boy! They thought those odds were great.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Did I mention to you that I went to one of the big Palos Verdes horse shows with my youngest son and his family? Horses are a big thing in PV, and though I rode when I was young occasionally, I, too, had such a fantasy about horses. The horse show benefits Children's Hospital. We trail rode as a family when we were on vacation and my daughter was always having a problem. Horses didn't seem to like her. They would turn around and bite, they would scrape her off against trees, or throw her off. But, she loved to ride and recently told me she wants to take lessons. I was riding with my 3 kids in Palm Springs in the desert--they were probably 12, 10, and 5. The stable man told us not to get off under any circumstances as there were a lot of rattlers out. Christy's horse turned around and bit her and she jumped off (10 year old) and the horse galloped back to the barn. What chaos. I got off my horse and pulled her on with me, absolutely terrified.

If you've never read Elaine's Five Acres With a View, http://www.stardel.com/fiveacres/index.php, you might enjoy it. She's in Colorado and writes beautifully about horses.

Ingineer66 said...

You are right a lot of women have a thing for horses. But please be carefull if you ride and wear a helmet. I know more people that have been seriously injured on horses than on motorcycles. And motorcycles dont bite or purposely try to rub you off against a tree. Personally I prefer quadrunners to horses, but that is just me.