A horsewoman is defined as a woman who rides, trains, breeds, and cares for horses. Beyond all of that, a horsewoman has a true passion for equines – along with an understanding for them. Horses can seem complicated to most people but, to the horsewoman, they are as simple as anything. A horsewoman cares deeply for these creatures, and is always out for their best interest rather than her own. A horseman is the same, only a man instead of a woman (to state the obvious). Horsemen and horsewomen are becoming increasingly rare, not because fewer people ride horses, but because the horse world is very flawed in many ways.
There is major lack of true horseman(or woman)ship in the horse world these days. Horses are treated like pieces of equipment, and when they do not work the way they are “supposed” to, they are drugged, over-trained, or passed along. Unless they are constant blue ribbon winners, they are called “money pits.”
Horses are animals. Living, breathing, sensitive, emotional, intelligent beings that are willing to do amazing things for us if they trust us. But cultivating a relationship based on trust with a horse can take time – lots of time. So many “horse people” do not have that kind of patience. They would rather just sedate a horse before heading to the show ring, rather than giving the horse time to get used to the competitive lifestyle. Part of training a horse for the horse show world is being willing to lose a few times while the horse is learning his or her job, but so many trainers refuse to wait.
Many horses are written of as “bad horses” when their behavior stems from pain. They are then passed along without any further investigations into what could be causing them to behave a certain way. Sometimes the only way they can tell someone that they are hurting somewhere is to act out. A horseman or horsewoman is willing to give a horse the benefit of the doubt and try to find a reason for poor behavior, rather than just moving on to the next one. Some horses cannot be fixed, or helped, but a horseman or horsewoman will try.
I know that I have been guilty of taking horses for granted, and thinking more of myself and what I wish to accomplish in my equestrian career – for it is such an easy thing to do. As horsewomen and horsemen, we must care for horses far beyond simply feeding and riding them. We must treat them with the respect they deserve. We must earn their respect and trust, rather than just ordering them to do our bidding. For they are not pieces of equipment, but living beings that can teach us so much if we let them. I think that it is very important for those of us who devote so much time, money, and energy to these animals to never lose sight of what a life with horses is really about.