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postheadericon A horse can be regarded as more than an animal to ride, more than a hobby

A horse can be regarded as more than an animal to ride, more than a hobby. A horse owner can love that animal as easily as he can love a dog. The main reason for purchasing a horse is to ride but the horse/human relationship is much more than that. When a small child looks up and says, "Your horse is beautiful" the horse owner is filled with pride.

When a horse is well trained and accustomed to working "with" the rider it’s almost as if the two are merged during riding. There is no better example of this than a "cow pony" (also called a cutting horse) which is a horse trained to follow, chase and cut a cow from the herd. The need for a horse to perform this duty dates back to the days when range cattle were branded and herds turned loose to roam without benefit of fences. Each rancher used his own brand as a method of recognizing which cattle he owned. During a cutting horse competition, the cowboy can guide his horse without touching the reins. The shifting of the rider’s body weight in the saddle tells the horse what direction to take. The perfect communication between the two is amazing to witness.

Watching these competitions makes for a great spectator sport.

People watching can be an interesting pastime. Observing a herd of horses in a pasture is just as interesting in the sense that each has an individual personality just like people. In a herd of ten you might see two laying down, another two might be fighting with each other. A fight can be anything from nipping at each other to rearing up and lunging. If one horse approaches from behind, the horse who is crowded might kick out with one hind leg and sometimes both.

The remaining horses might turn to observe or simply continue grazing. Some will never fight even if provoked. Others seem to enjoy being disagreeable. When a horse lays its ears back it indicates anger against another horse and may result in a bite or a kick.

Every horse owner smiles when offering an apple or carrot as a treat. The warm muzzle and the soft whinny as the animal takes the treat from the open hand is a bonding moment. Petting the side of a horse’s nose is like touching velvet.

There are many things a horse has to offer to a human. He can be ridden for recreation or in horse shows. He can be part of a team and pull a hay wagon. Some can be trained to jump and the Royal Lipizzaner stallions which have been bred to perfection for half a millennium perform dressage which has been described as "horses dancing."

Registered thoroughbreds are trained to win speed races. Registered quarter horses learn to run barrels and compete in other speed contests at the Western horse shows. Riding clubs take part in parades on the fourth of July and many Renaissance fairs feature exhibition jousting matches. The versatility and appeal of this magnificent animal can touch your heart if you let it. At that point the relationship becomes more than a joining of horse and rider; your horse has whinnied his way into your heart and become – your pet…

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