I saw my first horse at the age of five when my father walked me down a dusty Tallahassee road to a stable near our home. How to describe what happened to me that day? Have you ever fallen in love at first sight? That’s how it was with me. I was knocked out, bowled over, and blown away by the magnificent creatures I saw that day and I’ve been crazy about them ever since.
Perhaps you know a horse-crazy teen-aged girl. The odd thing is, this phenomenon is far more common in girls than boys. What’s that all about? I’ve asked myself and others this question for years, as have many horse lovers, and I think I may have found an answer.
Love is about nurturing and being nurtured. Each of us carries around an unconscious blueprint inscribed with thousands of memories, feelings, and associations related to the people who cared for us as children. Some are positive and some negative, but when someone or something comes along that resembles that blueprint, our soul responds with profound emotion while the clueless ego stands there and wonders, “What just happened?”
Which brings me to the symbolism of horses. Think about it. Horses are big and warm. Their coats are soft and smooth, they smell good, and they carry you around. Your mother was big and warm. Her skin was soft and smooth, she smelled good, and when you were a baby she carried you around. Or not. Either way, that’s what you wished for.
Horses are so tall that when you’re on their backs you’re higher than everyone else, which makes you feel important and special. Isn’t that how you felt in your mother’s arms?
When you spend a lot of time with horses and treat them with love, they love you back and serve you willingly and faithfully. That feels really good, the way an attentive mother makes you feel. And if your mother didn’t make you feel that way, your unfulfilled need became part of your blueprint.
If you ever get lost when you’re riding in unfamiliar territory, all you have to do is trust your horse and it’ll always take you home safely. So will most mothers.
Horses have an uncanny knack for knowing exactly what you’re thinking and feeling. Did you ever suspect your mother might be a mind-reader?
And here’s the clincher. With horses, you get to be the boss. These humongous, potentially dangerous creatures have to do what you tell them to — go fast, go slow, go here, go there, jump, stop, turn around — and if they won’t, you get to punish them! Now is having that kind of power over your mother the dream and demand of every savage young ego or what?
In sum, I think horses are mother substitutes. All children need their mothers’ affirmation of their power, lovableness, and worth. But since girls tend to identify primarily with their mothers, they have a special need for maternal intimacy and reassurance. So if we have nurturance issues with our mothers, some of us work them out with the horses we love. And some go on to fall in love with our Sacred Mother as well. Happy Mother’s Day.
Thanks to Jodie Otte www.jottephotography.com for permission to use this amazing photograph.