Monday, July 9, 2012

Just a Horse? I Don't Think So...

Just Hanging - Sug, Soph, and Me
This weekend a friend went through what many of us have at one time or another; the age old argument with a loved one about the time/money/emotional attachment spent on "Just a horse."  Obviously I can't speak for everyone, as each situation is unique and with its own challenges.  One thing I have noticed, though, is that it doesn't seem to matter if the money in question is actually available, or if the time in question is time that the person with the grievance is spending on their own pursuits. 

What I see as the root cause of this classic argument (and remember, I'm not a social worker, psychologist or anything of the kind - the only initials I have after my name are EMBA and MOM) is the emotional attachment that we feel for the horse.  Money and time are convenient, and often legitimate, complaints, but I'd bet dollars to donuts that in most cases the real issue at hand comes down to "You love that horse more than you love me." 

I see it this way:  I don't love "that horse" more than I love you.  I love you better because I love "that horse." My girls, bless their hearts, teach me the patience I need to raise better children and allow my husband to live to see another day.  When I experience training issues with Sugar, I am learning  to take a step back and assess the situation and ask, "Is it me, or her? Am I explaining what I want clearly?  Is she being naughty, or is she confused?"  That moment of analysis allows me to regroup and present my request differently, and that usually produces the correct reaction from Sug, or suggests a new tack to take to get where we want to go. 

That technique, when applied to my children or husband, means that instead of shrieking "What in the HELL were you thinking??" (my default mode) when they do something I find unacceptable, I can pause, take a deep breath, and ask "Did that work out the way you hoped it would?  No?  Why not? What do you think you could have done differently to get a better outcome?"  That fosters calmish discussion, which engenders trust and models patience and more mature way of handling difficult situations for my loved ones.  Does this work perfectly all the time?  Nope.  But it happens more often than not, and it happens because of  lessons I learned from"that horse."  Not because of all the therapy and the self help books (which, by the way, cost a lot of money and take up a lot of time.)

So, when people in my life (never my kids -- my kids "get" it) have questioned the amount of money/time/love I devote to "Just a horse," I show them this video, created by ohsoawesome12 and based the poem below.  I think sums it up quite nicely. 

'Just a Horse'

From time to time, people tell me, “Lighten up, it’s just a horse,” or “That’s a lot of money for just a horse”.

They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent or the costs involved for "Just a horse."

Some of my proudest moments have come about with "Just a horse."

Many hours have passed and my only company was "Just a horse," but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "Just a horse," and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "Just a horse" gave me comfort and reason to get over the day.

If you think it’s “Just a horse,” then you will probably understand phrases like “Just a friend, “Just a sunrise,” or “Just a promise.”

"Just a horse" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.

"Just a horse" brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person.

Because of "Just a horse" I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future.

So for me and folks like me, it’s not “Just a horse” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

“Just a horse” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “Just a horse” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a woman.”

- Jess Schwarcz


  1. Horses to me are the living embodiment of all that is great in nature; the sunrise, the snowcapped mountains, the gurgling brooks, a warm breeze. A horse is love from nature. It's as though nature took on form and gave you back the love we should show it.
    It is also a creature that I can love that never yells "Mom" in that annoying way kids and hubbies sometimes can. LOL

    1. Exactly! I've often said to my husband, "No offense, but you and the kids and the job suck the life out of me. The horse replaces it so I have more to give back to you."

  2. Love it. I only wish they had such a profound effect on my own tolerance. While I can almost always take a step back from a naughty (but always honest) horse I quickly fly into default mode with the 2 leggers in my herd. I guess it's because a change of aides with my horses usually produces a more desirable result while the two leggers just find another way to resist. Maybe if I tried a crop & spurs with them? Hmm.

    1. Victoria, thank you! You made my day! Your comment made me laugh so hard I spewed coffee on my laptop. Yep, the bipeds are a challenge. I like the idea of a crop. Perhaps a well timed kick?

    2. A swift kick would feel good (to me!)
      Sorry about the laptop. You probably deserve a new one anyway ;)

    3. I like your analogy, Victoria. Be careful with that crop, though.

  3. This hits so close to home - thanks much for sharing! I need to keep copies of that poem in my bag to hand out to folks. They still won't get it but it's much better than my attempts to explain how important my horse is to my happiness.

  4. Totally agreed. Great share.

  5. Yes, it is the classic argument, Amy. But if wasn't about horses, it would be about something else. For those who have a genuine passion for The Horse, there is really is no need to justify it by pointing out the benefits. Following your passion is "a good" in its own right. And while not everyone who is close to us will "get it", as long as they accept it and support it, the rest is details. Of course, you have to do the same for them.

  6. Great post. Timely, too, as my brother just told me I should sell Talega if I could make a profit off her. I just got her! He's a Wall Street guy. Figures.