For Winston…and Other Horse Lovers

For Winston…and Other Horse Lovers

“There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.” I stumbled upon this quote when I was a kid, and it made me a Winston Churchill fan. Until I discovered it, he was just some bald guy in my history book who seemed to like cigars. It wasn’t until later that I learned this cigar-smoking bald guy happened to help end Hitler’s reign and World War II!

Back when I was a kid, my older sister was the equestrian in our family. While I was playing ball on the sports field, she could be found at the barn, perfecting her horse’s trot in the formal dressage discipline. This looked like a lot of boring to my younger eyes. However, I recall one exciting incident best described as equestrian chaos! It’s thought her horse, with my sister on its back, confused a garden hose for a snake. The result was watching a lot of legs, both horse and human, rearing up and down in a style opposite of equestrian grace. Thankfully, the horse and my sister were unharmed. The garden hose didn’t fare so well.

They say that horses are not smart animals. If they had high intelligence, being forced to walk, trot, and canter in a particular style would be more difficult for humans to force upon them. I beg to differ, as the horses I’ve met radiate with an intelligence that resides inside a place we humans can only hope to truly touch. You can see it in their eyes, noticed after first glance, and offered only if you’re chosen to receive it. It’s in their unique sounds, by hoof as they scrape the ground, and by mouth, as they communicate with one another. You may even get to feel a nuzzle or a nudge if they trust you enough to offer one.

A few years ago, I met a woman who rescues horses.  Before I met her, I thought horses needed riders, not rescue. It’s heartbreaking to learn that some of these animals are neglected and abused. She strives to create a world where all horses are under the care of people privileged enough to own them and intelligent enough to respect that honor.

Interestingly, Winston Churchill was also involved in rescuing horses. He led a mission to secure the safe return of thousands of war horses stranded in Europe after the First World War. Another admirable yet lesser-known fact about a man, born into privilege, who led a life dedicated to public service.

It’s well-documented that horses and humans have been friends for thousands of years. So, should your road ever lead to the stables, I bet there’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of a bald man. He’s the one with the knowing grin, savoring the scenery while smoking a cigar. Tell him I sent you.

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