From knights and cowboys to Regency gentlemen and ladies to trick riders and trail lovers, equestrians of all kinds know that horses are something special. Horses are fantastic companions, and the bond between mount and steed is strong indeed.
But what is it really like to have a horse as a pet? Maybe you’ve always been curious about getting a horse, or maybe you have a child who’s impossibly passionate about wanting a horse – does that mean that horses are good pets?
In a word: yes!
In more than a few words, here are just a few reasons why horses don’t just work as pets but are among the best you can get!
1. Get Your Exercise in
We all know that horses are incredibly active animals. When we think of horses, we frequently imagine them trotting along long paths or galloping across open stretches of land. While that’s great exercise for your horses, however, it also means a lot of exercise for you. As anyone who’s ever ridden knows, holding on and riding a horse takes a lot of physical effort. Riding a horse is a workout in itself – and who could ask for a better exercise buddy?
2. Their Undeniable Majesty
Why does the image of a knight atop his steed or a cowboy in the saddle stick in the memory as one of grace and power? From the statue of Alexander and Bucephalus in Edinburgh to George Stubbs’ beloved Whistlejacket painting, our images of horses almost always carry a sense of grandeur and majesty equal to the rider. It’s one reason the aged Don Quixote and the equally-decrepit Rocinante appear as such perfect comic inversions of this ideal.
That sense of majesty continues to loom large in our culture in the form of horse races. From the Ascot and Grand National in the United Kingdom to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in the United States, horse racing and equestrian sports continue to fire the imagination among horse lovers. They are to equestrians what Kennel Club dog shows are to dog lovers. Yet, while dogs are majestic and beautiful in their own way, there’s just something about a horse racing or jumping or being led with expertise and understanding by its rider that speaks to the soul.
Horses are as majestic as pets come, and there’s no denying that, when riding them, you too can feel a sense of power. There is a definite bond that exists between mount and rider, with the two combining to make one another all the more majestic, thereby making their union all the more meaningful.
That said, you don’t want your horse to appear rundown or grubby, which is why it’s essential to follow basic grooming tips such as:
- Cleaning your horse’s hooves regularly with a proper pick
- Using a currying comb to comb loose dirt and old hair, leaving a fresh fine mane behind
- Following this up with a stiffer brush
- Washing your horse with a sponge as needed
3. Their Impeccable Diversity
Another great aspect of horse ownership is the ability to choose from among more than a thousand different breeds worldwide. The variation between them is enormous. From color and size to temperament and abilities, horses, like humans, are made all the more magnificent by their diversity.
4. The Social Factor
Still, snakes and reptiles are certainly diverse, so what’s so special about horses? In a word, personality. From old Rocinante in Don Quixote to Boxer and Clover in Animal Farm, the personality of horses shine through throughout literature, and they’re sure to do so in your own stable as well. Just like humans, horses can be extroverted or shy or anything in between.
What’s more, they can share their personality with one another as well as with us. If you have more than one horse, they can and will interact, which can be incredibly exciting. Even more exciting is the prospect of your horse playing off your personality as the two of you learn to support and understand one another. Few relationships are more rewarding than that which is built up between a horse and its mount. It combines understanding, trust, and a strong thirst for adventure.
5. Long Lifespan
The most tragic day for any pet owner is the horrible moment when they have to bid farewell to their beloved pet forever. No one likes to think about mortality, and yet for some reason it can be even more traumatic to contemplate the death of our pets than our own. We understand that we are all going to die someday, and yet for us, good health willing, that day can at least be postponed for many decades to come. For pets, that day must come much sooner, with dogs and cats typically living around 10 to 15 years.
Horses, however, can live longer than that. With good care and regular exercise, a healthy horse can live for up to a quarter of a century. This can give you more time with your beloved pet, and by the time the day of parting does come, you’ll have had more time to prepare emotionally and otherwise.
6. Horse Breeding
From helping to offset the tragedy of mortality to the majesty of horses in trim or straining on toward victory on the racetrack, breeding is at the center of horse life. As with dogs and cats, you can breed horses, giving you new equestrian companions for generations to come. There are many great guides to breeding out there, but whatever your personal approach may be, you are sure to be met with a bevy of information from enthusiasts who love horses as much as you.
In this way, horse breeding helps breed not just stronger horses but strong passionate communities of horse lovers worldwide.
From that magical sense of community to the majesty of the horses themselves, there is no denying that horses are an incredible pet in every sense of the word. Raise and bond with them properly, and there’s no telling where a love of horses may take you.