Once, I had been afraid of horses. A bone-deep terror, one that even plagued my dreams. Horses, of all things. Not clowns, spiders, or war. Horses. That’s all come to pass now, but even years later, I remember the chill.
But nobody here wants to read about how I was once afraid. You want to get to the meat of the story, naturally. As horse lovers, you’re all here to relate to me, not to wonder why I’m here on this wonderful horse blog, talking about how I used to cry in the face of our furred friends. Fear not (unlike me!), this isn’t a story of that today. Recently, I had the time to sit down with a few kids who had similar experiences to me.
Kids who were also afraid of horses.
Now, as a child, looking at a horse is a bit different. They’re big, probably taller than Mom’s car, though not as tall as Dad’s truck. They’re heavy and they have four legs—all the more to step on you with. And of course, they’ve been warned about the kicks and the bites, just for accidentally spooking a horse. Face it, when you’re small and new to the world, horses are going to be pretty scary at first.
Thanks to my gentle guidance, there’s now three less scared kids in the world.
The day began with me giving my cats away on Kijiji. I was moving to a new house, and I couldn’t reasonably care for two kittens more than my current menagerie—two adult cats, two dogs, horses—and then who I like to call our Yeti, an Alaskan Malamute. He doesn’t count as a dog, he counts as five dogs. Anyway, giving away pets all in the greater good and quality of life improvements, as you do. It was sad, and of course I, was tearing up—I didn’t want to give up my boys, but I’d pick the best sounding place possible. A few offers rolled in to take them, but they wanted to separate them, which I was unwilling to do. Just when I thought I’d be stuck finding a new home for them after the move, I checked my email once more.
A woman with three kids, who lived on a farm. They’d lost their old cat to a snowstorm, and the kids were devastated—as were their bedding and food stores, considering the mice had just returned. I scheduled a meeting and brought the boys along with me. They lived on a beautiful ranch, with a single stallion who happened to be a former showhorse, and I’m pretty sure that I had decided that this was the place based on that alone. But I was thorough, I checked them out and finalised the deal—they’d be good for the boys, and the kids had fallen in love almost immediately.
But then I got to talking with the parents; they wanted more horses, but the kids were afraid. One stallion was already pushing it, as they had to walk along his pasture to get to the bus every morning for school. As I had experienced horse fear before, I decided to talk to the kids for a bit. Turns out, they had never been in the presence of a horse that wasn’t absolutely terrifying—the stallion was beautiful, certainly, but friendly he was not.
So, I went home that night. And the next day, I took a look at my menagerie again. I’d been struggling with finances for the past two winters, but we’d always managed to make ends meet. However, there were less people where I was going, and I’d have less time to tend to all of my horses. So, I made another hard decision.
I called the parents up again. I asked them if they’d be willing to take another pair—a much, much larger pair. Rest assured, the cats were probably more rambunctious than the horses I ended up dropping off at their place a week later. Still, that never cured the fear, but as I got the kids to befriend their new pals, I could see it working. All it took was a little love… and it helps when something, even a horse, can have your name on it.
Months later, I write this up because I’ve gotten an update. The cats are indeed scarier than the horses I rehomed, and all of the kids are now avid riders. I miss my babies more than anything, but I can sleep at night knowing they’re in the best of hands.