Horse ownership usually conjures images of galloping off into the sunset on a trail ride or perhaps winning a blue ribbon in a skilled equine sport, such as dressage. And while those typical horse activities are delightful, a satisfying relationship with a horse is not based solely on the horse’s ability to carry a rider.
What is the value of a horse that can’t be ridden? These animals are called companion horses or “pasture ornaments”, and even though they certainly add majestic beauty to any pasture, they are so much more than that.
The emotional bonding, the loving spiritual connection, and simply the healing power of physical interaction between beings – none of these incredible benefits require a horse to carry a rider. It’s a proven fact that a bond with an animal has health benefits to humans.
If you don’t believe it, take a horse for a walk. Having a one-thousand pound animal follow like a puppy is a beautiful experience. Or how about a grooming session that lulls the giant baby into a mid-day snooze? Any of these seemingly insignificant interactions are packed with magic.
At RVR Horse Rescue, none of our horses are able to be ridden until they are fully recovered from their abuse and/or neglect. Even after their recovery, some are not considered sound for riding, but their value is still as precious as gold.
One example is our Miss White. The old mare and her buddy, Mr. Black, wandered onto a farmer’s land and eventually ended up in our loving arms. Mr. Black went on to a full recovery and was adopted into a caring family, but his friend, Miss White, was dealt a gloomier fate. The years had worn her down and cancer weakened her bony body.
In anticipation of her expected demise, Miss White was given the run of the property, which she accepted with gusto. She quickly made herself at home, becoming a bull in an equine china shop. She learned that if she pushed hard enough on the office door, she would be rewarded with the carrots that were stored inside. She invaded the personal space of many volunteers, proving her desire for human companionship. The clumsy class clown stole the hearts of everyone at the ranch.
A companion horse, like Miss White, would be a wonderful buddy to a sound horse, who needs company in the pasture. The sound horse could satisfy the owner’s appetite to ride, while a horse like Miss White can provide both horse and human with loving camaraderie.
Miss White is a perfect example of the often over-looked value of unridable horses. Hopefully her brilliant example will inspire more horse lovers to adopt companion horses.
RIP Miss White.
Article by ShirleyAlarie@gmail.com, Author of “A Healing Haven- Saving Horses and Humans at RVR Horse Rescue” and “A New Home for Dominick”