Remembering Equine Lessons Learned from Moms

Remembering Equine Lessons Learned from Moms

It no secret that the women in our lives have decades of lessons on a variety of topics to teach us, and some of us are fortunate enough to have grown up learning about horses from horse-savvy moms or mom-like figures.

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Mother's Day is a time to celebrate the hard-working, irreplaceable, and much-loved mothers, grandmothers, step-mothers, aunts, mother-like figures, and other women in our lives. It no secret that these women have decades of lessons on a variety of topics to teach us, and some of us are fortunately enough to have grown up learning about horses from horse-savvy moms or mom-like figures. Here are some things we—The Horse staff—and you—our Facebook and Twitter fans and readers of The Horse—learned from the horsewomen in their lives.

The Horse Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Church grew up with a horse-crazy mother who fostered her daughter's equestrian side right from the very beginning: "My mom had me out at our barn and propped up on a horse's back before I could walk. That sort of learn-by-osmosis effect had me loving horses from the very start. I can still remember my first riding lesson on Lady the teeny-tiny pony at age 4; I was so very excited and the lesson was far too short! It's because of my mom that horses have been a central theme in my life." web producer Jennifer Whittle said she also grew up with a knowledgeable, horse-savvy mother.

"My mom taught me everything I know about horses—literally," she said. "I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t out at the barn either watching her train and care for our horses, or learning (by doing) the responsibilities associated with our herd. She had me riding a horse as soon as I could somewhat sit in the saddle. She also pushed me to be involved in our 4-H horse club, in which she later became a leader and coached our horse bowl and hippology teams to state and national titles. We’ve experienced numerous late-nights walking a colicky horse, monitoring mares ready to foal, and administering quick first-aid fixes until the vet could arrive."

Reader Katie Venable said she also learned some valuable lessons from her mother: "My mom taught me everything to do with barn care, horse-health care, hoof care, tacking up and down, grooming, bathing, riding, the list goes on and on. I owe everything to my mom for teaching me so much through allowing me to be hands on in every aspect of horse care, and allowing me to ride big and small horses, and telling me to get back on after being thrown every now and then. I never feared horses, not after being bit, kicked, stepped on, or tossed over our mare's neck because I understood the horse was even more scared than me in most cases. She never sheltered me or kept me from joining in on the nitty-gritty out of saddle things, even a surgery that our vet had to do on our front lawn. And she always exposed me to as much knowledge outside of her own via her longtime breeder/trainer/show friends, books, and whatever else I needed to keep up to date on stuff. I truly feel that whatever natural talent I may have would not have been worth a hill of beans if not for her. And that's the truth."

Erica Larson, The Horse and news editor, says her mother taught her the most important thing she could about horses: "My mother didn't have the equestrian background that some have, but she always enjoyed horses and casual trail riding. I can't count the number of times we'd be driving, even when I was very little, and just stop on the side of the road to watch horses grazing in the field or would wait in line for a five-minute pony ride before going back and doing it again. With that early influence, my mom taught me that horses are incredible animals and essentially helped shape my life and career around them."

But it's not just biological mothers that teach us what we need to know about horses, as reader Jonathan Smith explained.

"I was taught to work with horses by a woman that is like a second mom to me," he said. "The greatest lesson was to be gentle and patient. I've seen so many people, especially men, wanting to man-handle foals. If you take the time to teach them, life is much easier. I've been complimented on my ability with foals many times, and I know she’s the reason."

Reader Beth Bird-De La Rue agreed: "I lost my mom when I was 5, but my dad paid for me to take riding lessons for years from a great woman. She taught me to always keep learning to be a good horse person."

Reader Susan M. Hathaway also shared some of the wide variety of lessons she learned from her "adopted" mom: "Beat pulp and rice bran for hard keepers, always use a slip knot, never be in a hurry, and ask nice and wait a minute—they will usually think about it and comply. It's about you and your horse, not the competition. Give them access to freedom (a pasture outside) at all times and you will have a happier, healthier horse. I could go on and on! Gerry was a horsewoman for 70+ years and a member of her saddle club for 50. She barrel raced, put three kids through 4-H and horse shows, had a dude stable on the beach with 40 head, and had a carriage business at the state capital for 10 years. You name it, she did it. I couldn't have had a better mentor and 'adopted' mom.

And finally, we must remember to thank the equine moms for teaching both their foals and us valuable life-lessons. Mary Day-Petrano said, "Suavy, the mommy horse, taught me to move out of the way when she's coming through. She's a big horse!"

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