The Heart of a Horse ~

There is a quote about the outside of a horse being good for the inside of a man. Churchill. And Reagan said something similar - they're right.

But what about the inside of a horse?

We all talk a lot about bone size (strength), conformation (structural angles and proportions/balance), there are thousands of books, videos, websites and forums, clinics and workshops - all on this subject.

But what about the horse's mind and personality? What about his heart? The physical heart is important, the size and strength, the 'metabolic structure' of the horse is at least as important to a performance horse as the (outside/visual) physical structure, but this post is about 'having heart'.

When horseman say a horse 'has heart' what they're talking about is that otherwise indefinable essence of spirit that makes a horse go above and beyond anyone's expectations.

Marty Robbins sings about the Strawberry Roan, a pony that couldn't be rode. The mustang he sings about is about as poorly built as any horse can be, but he has indomitable spirit and that's something that horsemen admire.

It had be hard to deal with, as in the case of the Roan, because he had decided he didn't like people and wasn't going to cooperate with them. And what about Old Red? He killed himself to kill the cowboy he couldn't throw.

There are others like the real-world filly Ruffian and Zane Grey's fictional Wildfire, who ran to the death for glory, for good, for the saving of another life, rather than obstinance and willfulness.

Some horses you can dominate and push around, some are timid or fearful, most seem more comfortable and happy with a Boss, some seem simply to not care - and sometimes those horses are the easier choice.

But if your hero is going into a situation, or if you want to make sure his success doesn't come too easy *evil grin*, you may want to give him a kind of horse like Strawberry or Red. A horse that draws lines he won't cross, a horse that won't quit and won't go down without getting back up. Or one like Ruffian or Wildfire who give their all to win the day.


Val said...

That's awesome... I know my Shawna-doodle* would have thundered down the trail until her big red heart ruptured for me, that's for sure!
[but I need to put in a coupla hrs in the round pen getting a fidgety little Arab to learn to STAND STILL while Momma mounts up!]
*Big Dummy nudges me to say he'd give his all, too, that is if he didn't TRIP & FALL DOWN in the meantime...

K.M. Saint James said...

Great insight.

Went to the horse races this past week (never been before) and of course, the writer in my had a thousand questions. As you're the horse expert, can you tell me why at the end of the race, the jockey and saddle are weighed? Any why do they sometimes talk about adding weight to the jockey?

Thanks loads. Have a great writing day.

Val said...

The horse is handicapped according to the weight carried just as a golfer - it would be unfair, for instance, if one were carrying a 120-lb jockey while another was carrying 140!

Becky Burkheart said...

Ack! Yes. Thank you Val. (Sorry Sandra! I thought I answered, but it looks like I dreamed it.)