What Makes Horses Addictive?

I think about this all the time, so wanted to write about it, but every sentence, phrase and word I attempt to write sounds like a tired cliche. The questions, about myself and others, come easily:
  1. What drives us to take on a responsibility that requires us to go into -15 or colder weather, several times a day, sometimes for weeks on end, to feed horses, make warm mashes, and clean stalls, even when we can't ride because of the cold?
  2. Why would a sane person, when so fortunate as to retire at 50 (potentially enjoying many years of riding), risk it all and work like a dog to be able to have even more horses and more horse activities?
  3. Why do young mothers (and fathers) go to the barn night after night -  taking lessons, training horses, spending money that's needed for many other things, tired out after a long day's work, and with many other activities clamouring for their attention?
  4. Why do we (often daily) work to the point of shaking with exhaustion and tie up ALL of our money, for those elusive moments in the saddle when it all clicks?
  5. Why do we keep riding when we go through periods of such fear that even thinking about riding makes us throw up?
  6. Why does a physician ride a gorgeous 17 hand five year old, when her doctor has told her if she falls he won't be able to put her back together?
  7. Why, instead of a relaxing vacation, do we pack up trailers and go to (what can be) the stressful world of a horse show? 
  8. Why do we get back on our horse 3 days after breaking ribs in a fall, barely able to catch a breath because of the pain, when our doctor has told us to wait 4 to 6 weeks?
  9. Why are we smiling as we shovel shit?
It does seem to me that there are similarities to addictions, as we sacrifice so much for our fleeting fix, but I have no idea how this works.
I don't have any answers to the questions I pose, I just have an awareness of a happiness that would be emptiness without the horses. These phrases come to mind when I think about what horses give me:
  • A soaring, transcending joy
  • A deeply, all encompassing, loving peacefulness 
  • A communion with another species that I experience as spiritual
I told you it would sound like tired cliches. I'll keep trying...



L.Williams said…
It's defi an addiction to the release of serotonin.
People who don't indulge themselves with horses will never understand.

However, the amazingly brave Garrett Macnamara, who surfed a reputedly 100ft wave yesterday, has an inkling... of all sports I think surfing has the most in common with riding.
I think it can be an addiction, we do all these mad things just to get not a thrill but happiness out of these stunning creatures!
Cut-N-Jump said…
I may not be one to easily define it either, but the peaceful 'zen' experience of the sound of them eating in the barn, the excitement of finally getting something right or the horse nuzzling you just because they can or want to. Even after getting bitten, stepped on, thrown or hurt- we keep going back for more. It's definitely a sickness of some kind. But I would never give it up.
Lori Skoog said…
I agree with Martine. People who do not have horses can't possibly understand the strong connection we have with them. For the past 31 years I have done chores morning and night with very few breaks. 2 years before that I visited our two boarded horses everyday. Riding (frosting on the cake)is secondary to living with them. Love my girls.
TBDancer said…
To me, it's "making the connection." Sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes it's just a few moments, but the connection with that liquid eye, the pricked ears ("Oh, hello there. I'm a horse. You're a person. Got carrots?") or the first time you go to the stall and the horse nickers because it's YOU--priceless.
Val said…
Horses are rarely disappointing, but maybe that is just because we love them so much. I do not have to clean stalls anymore, but I used to clean stalls on my days off (high school and college) so that I could ride more. I figured that few non-horse people would understand. ;)

I do have to pay lots of money to keep my horse though. That adds up to a lot of trips to Hawaii, but I would not trade the two.

Great post!
All good points and a great post.

Personally, I think it's in the genes and we're just born with a love of horses. I consider all of us involved with horses the lucky ones who were born with the horse gene. And I wouldn't change my DNA for anything.
I don't know..why!! Can't explain it, but love it always. :)
juliette said…
Love the post Carol!!! I question this daily too. I am FILLED with delight when I see them and touch them even when I have to force back the tears of pain because of frostbite in my finger tips. I can be cursing under my breath one minute as I scrub an icy bucket and laughing the next as a Foggy nose wiggles in my pocket for a treat. It is without words that make sense - all sounds like a teenage giddy crush when I describe it to people. I know most of my friends and family think I am insane but being with horses is more important than almost anything to me and the weirdest thing is that it is getting more insistent as I age instead of less. I spend all my free time goggling ways to build a house in the pasture. Not kidding.
These horses are just the most amazing creatures and then...that they ALLOW us to ride them!!!! Well that is truly a miracle!
allhorsestuff said…
Oou.spamed again above!

Well you really hit the highlights and the lowlights of our heart's call to owning, riding and sharing life with horses.

There is a definite lending of awareness with them telling you things others may never understand or even begin to hear. They offer freedom and peace and a life that soars on the wind. To live without is to not truly live, in my estimation!
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