Is There Anyone Close to You Who Just Doesn’t Understand the Animal Thing? Sigh. Me, too.

(THIS BLOG ORIGINALLY POSTED IN APRIL OF 2010.  This year, my husband’s family came for Thanksgiving to the new house.  All of them had a great time and were extremely pleasant, but none spent any time outdoors.  So interesting…)


My Mother was here for the last few days.

Me with mature Gwen

Sadly, she never has and never will get the “animal thing”.  Every time she is here, I get the proverbial, “Why so many horses?” and “How do you get all that hair off of ______ (fill in the blank)…?

Actually, her resolve for most all of my problems… broken refrigerator, unfinished basement, property tax bill due, dry skin and need of a root canal can all be traced back to “If you just got rid of all of these animals, your life would be easier.”

Well, it bothers me that my Mother will never understand my love for animals.  However, I know that our philosophies are just different.  For her, animals mean work and a mess and they cost money.  For me, animals mean work and a mess and they cost money.  But, our opinions of that are completely different.  Do you know what I mean?

First off, I’m not going to chide my Mother for her views.  She is right.  Animals are work, they are messy and they do cost money.

And, I’m not going to be upset (well, maybe a little) if she will never come to terms with my regard for animals.

But today, in deference and reference to my Mother, I want to put to paper why I have animals.


Me with Ava (Mamma Tess in the background)

I just wrote that header and I found my fingers pausing.  I have to think about this.  Why do I have animals?  Hmmmm.

I think it is different for each kind of animal.  But, the main reason is because their personalities and thought processes are very engaging to me.  You see, I find the personalities of humans engaging, too, but humans aren’t as honest as animals.  Humans don’t always tell the truth.  Animals cannot hide the truth.  I like that.

I like that they are honest in who they are and honest in presenting who they are.

Of course, there are dishonest horses (we all have met one), but they aren’t dishonest in their honesty, if that makes sense.  You KNOW a horse is dishonest so you watch him more closely.  Perhaps the word, “dishonest” is not appropriate for those types of horses.  Perhaps, “avoidance opportunistic” is more appropriate.  Dunno.  Anyway, what I am saying is that I think I love animals because I love their truth.  (Actually, I think it would be great if humans would pin their ears when they were upset…  but human body language isn’t so obvious, is it?)


Me training teenage Gwen

Well, since this blog is about the bond between Horse and Man, I thought I would speak about horses specifically.  And, you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you don’t already have horses…  So, I guess I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know…

OK, here goes:  Horses are way bigger than us.  Yet, they let us ride them.  Why?  Would you?

No way.

I think horses are loving, willing and charitable most of the time.  I mean, think of any other animal that weighs 1200 pounds.  Would you approach it?  I wouldn’t even approach a 250 pound man!  So, I guess I feel honored that horses invite me into their circle.

For me, sitting and watching the horses interact in a group is fascinating.  They all have their personalities and their duties within the herd.  And, they are all true to that.  No ifs ands or buts in the herd.  It is what it is.  Which, I might add, is very different when you have a large gathering of women, let’s say…

Horses are consistent.

They act like they are going to act all the time.  I like that.

Me with a younger Tess and baby Ava

I like that I know that Tess will always be at the gate first.  I like that her baby always gets a kick if he gets too close to her at feeding time.  I like that my Icy filly is always just outside of kicking range but incessantly irritating since it is in her personality to push.  I love that Gwen is always the strongest, that Sam is always wild yet willing to let me approach if I do it right.

I love how Finn is goofy but sincere in his protection of Beautiful Girl.  I love that BG is sweet as can be and totally willing to let me do anything with her because she loves me best.  I admire that Remi survived as a mustang in the wild and now lives, always regally, here.  I love that Bodhi is learning from her and beholding to her.

I love both of my Shetlands… Dodger because he is like Yoda and Slick because he is relentlessly like Collin Ferrell.  Norma is so precious and so discerning that I feel privileged that she lets me love her.  And they all, always, make me feel accepted and appreciated.  Hmmmmmm.

Me recently on a friend’s mule

Is that enough to feed and house them all?  For me, absolutely.  I think of them as my outside roommates and really good friends.

I love seeing them everyday.  I love interacting with them.  And, to me, they are better than roommates since they don’t leave any messes in the house (well, kinda they do since I track in hair all the time…).

I can leave them whenever I want without explaining why.  Actually, I want to leave my horses far less than I remember wanting to leave my roommates…  But anyway, what I mean is that they GIVE to me so much more than most people have time to give.  Horses seem to want to hang out and be with you.  If you listen to them, most listen back.  If you treat them the way you want to be treated, they do the same.  Horses are honest, humorous, discerning, gentle, faithful and loving survivors which are also traits I find in all of my close human friends.  Hmmmmm.

Me with Finn


There you have it.

I love having horses because their animal traits mesh with mine.

Sure, they are hairy and messy – but so is Hubby.  Sure they cost money but everything costs something.   However you cannot put a price on what moves your heart – to me, that is priceless.

What matters is that horses give consistently more than they ever get.  I want to give back.  I want to nurture them, help them be happy and be around them as often as possible.

And, in this awful economy recently, the horses have gotten the short end of the stick.  Horses are neglected, starved and dumped in epic proportions nowadays.

So, for me, I’m just one who is trying to right the wrong, a few horses at a time.  It makes me feel good.

That is why I have horses.


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16 comments have been posted...

  1. Sandy Lavett

    I love our animals like members (the human kind) of our family. Your mom will always be the way she is and think the way she thinks. I think your whole blog could be summed up by just the last 5 words in the next to last paragraph. “It makes me feel good.”

  2. Ruth Wittmann

    I tell people; yes my bank account would be richer, but my soul would be so poor!

  3. delrene

    Animals are expensive, but their worth cannot be evaluated in monetary terms. I don’t even worry about it. By that statement I in no way mean I’m wealthy, I’m not. But I just can’t compute their worth in terms of how expensive it is to care for them. I get my horse fix via your blog and others, but my pets are my German Shepherd Tessa and my 6 rescue cats. I love how they all get along and interact with each other and the different personalities. I totally understand having a close relative not get it. or having a friend say, OMG you paid how much to fix that cat??? or dog???? I just let them go on. I have a spouse who never had a pet, so he rants the loudest, but when I catch him watching tv and two of the cats crawl up in his lap and he is petting them, I think perhaps on some level he gets it. Thanks for posting your 2010 essay.
    Happy New Year to you and all your “babies”

  4. Christine

    Dawn. To be honest I can’t tell you why my heart and home need animals. It just does. I need and love them. My home is not a home without them. I work with Anti Dog people. They just can’t get me at all. I go to work and the first thing I do is try to get all the hair of my clothes! They can’t understand why I allow my dogs on my bed. When I was crying at work as my dog had to be put to sleep. They asked me what was wrong and when I told them they said “Oh we thought something terrible had happened”. That was when I first started at the office and now 25 years later they realise that to me my animals are my family and when one is poorly or (god forbid) I loose one they now understand that I must grieve for them as much as for my two legged family. After all they ARE my family too. x

  5. Julie Ham

    Ah Dawn, I also have a mother who just doesn’t get it and it is true… “Animals are so expensive! And you will have them, won’t you!!” Of course she is correct. I explain it to her this way:” it’s a better addiction to have than booze or cocaine! ”

    But I think it goes deeper than any of us imagine. I think after thousands of years depending on animals for our very existence, we are hardwired, bred, if you will, to have them around. Our whole lives we are imprinted with cowboy images: steers on the prairie, horses tied or hobbled close to camp, and the loyal dog watching for trouble. Cats chasing mice, cow being milked and kids mocking out stalls. It’s genetic, bred into some of us just like hunting is into dogs or racing into thoroughbreds. My maiden name is Black, probably shortened from Blacksmith. I could never explain the need I had to pretend to ride my horse to school. Have you ever seen Monty Python’s Holy Grail?? The troop kippers about pretending to ride horses while knocking coconuts together! That was me at 6. I fed every pasture horse I came across, I ‘d sneak puppies into my bedroom and hide them in my closet only to be sent back the next day. I had rabbits hidden int the back yard until I got grounded and had to explain why I needed to go outside with some lettuce so badly!! Yep! I had it bad!! The fever of needing to care for critters, whatever shape or species!! My poor mother! She went through so much, never understanding the NEED. It was all just a luxury we couldn’t afford to her. I was allowed a cat and a hamster, and eventually another rabbit. I know have 5 horses, 4 cats and a dog. And a very understanding man who draws the line at horses inside the house!!

  6. Jeannie

    I have to echo what Vonnie posted above: “And, you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you don’t already have horses… ‘ I, too, have been around horses much, yet I feel privileged to read your blog. Your passion for and understanding of the horse mind is wonderful to read. I will add that I belive that the bond you have with horses is possible with any species. I have friends who work at Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA as caregivers, and to hear them speak of the cows, steers and goats that they know as individuals, you would be amazed at the similarity in the depth of understanding that can develop. The problem is that we do not have (or do not allow ourselves) much time to develop bonds with food animals, perhaps that is built into the food system, sadly.

  7. Jill

    I love my husband dearly, but my heart aches each day to get home to ALL of my animals!

  8. Trish

    My husband could never understand animals in our lives, and still doesnt, thats why we are divorced!! ;)

  9. R.M

    What an excellent re-post choice! Most horse-related dreams of a child are squashed by a parent that pulls the ‘wallet’ card. “We can’t afford it” translates to “I’m afraid of horses and you’ll get injured.” Children get injured when they are drawn to horses without parental supervision, i.e., sneaking into the neighbor’s field to steal a ride. Usually doesn’t turn out well because Black Beauty never acted like that! A series of twelve lessons can be the defining moment for a child. Either satisfies the desire or sets them on a goal for the rest of their lives.

  10. Teresa Elliott

    This reminds me of something my father said a few years ago while gazing at one of my cow paintings, “They have such honest faces.”

  11. Vonnie Jones

    “And, you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you don’t already have horses… ‘ Wrong! I’ve never had a horse, never been around horses in my life! But I passionately love all animals and feel so privileged to peek in on your passion for animals, too. Although I will never have the chance to experience the bond with a horse, you’ve taught me so much about them. Thank you so much for your blog!

  12. Joanie

    I always love your posts…I feel the same way about my animals. I would rather spend my time with my horses than with mean people…most women are gossipy and are not honest…my friends always have been my animals as they are honest. My horse really is honest with me lol! Thanks for always sharing as I am one of your biggest followers. Good luck on your Paso Robles home…I love going up there to do wine tasting…hate leaving my horses, but I love just going up there with my husband for a few days and relaxing…absolutely gorgeous up there…I live in Southern California and it’s like another world up there!

  13. Maggie

    I love all the things that you mentioned. Plus, they are loyal to one another. Once friends, always friends. Plus, they listen good when I need to talk. :-)

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