Have you seen the comedy 'Of Horses and Men' directed by Benedikt Erlingsson? I haven't either. Besides, this post is not about the movie to begin with. It's just that the title sounded catchy.
A fellow artist shared with me this week an image of a wonderful, super realistic pencil study of a horse head by another artist I was not familiar with. I re-shared the image with my followers on Google+ and the next thing I know, people were asking where they could buy prints. That got me thinking... What is it about horses that speaks to people on such a deep level?
Cavalo, pencil drawing by Diogenes Dantas at http://www.deviantart.com
From around 4000 B.C. when people first began domesticating horses, this animal has been considered a prized possession in many cultures. Not just a mode of transportation or a symbol of military might, but also a friend, or if you will, a kindred spirit.
Fast forward to the days when 'the West was won,' and you can observe the bond of Native American warriors with their horses, and of course, how can you even imagine a cowboy without a trusty horse!
Watercolor by Elena Romanova
'There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.' This famous quote by Sir Winston Churchill is these days finding practical application with the emergence of horse therapy, which pairs up people with developmental disabilities, PTSD, Alzheimer's disease, and a host of other neurological disorders with carefully selected and trained horses. This is still a fairly new form of therapy, but the results have been astounding.
So what is it that makes the equine-human bond so special?
Soul Seeker by Concetta Kilmer at http://www.redbubble.com
Kim Mistral, in an article for Horse Connection Magazine, puts forth a thought you may never have thought of before...'Have you ever wondered if that horse you are attracted to might be attracted to you, too?' Like people, horses have both physical and emotional needs. When we nourish their needs, they view us as a companion, friend, and leader.
Research has shown that horses also understand words better than expected and possess excellent memory, allowing them to not only remember their human friends after long periods of separation, but also to remember complex, problem-solving strategies for ten years or longer. The bond with humans is likely an extension of horse behavior in the wild, since horses value their own, equine relatives and friends, but are also open to new, non-threatening acquaintances.
Spirit Unbroken by Bonnie Marris at http://www.artbarbarians.com/gallery2/
All this said, and in spite of all the research performed over the years, deeper source of horse's bonding to a human is still as mysterious as ever. Why is it that certain horses bond with some people but not other, equally gentle and even-tempered ones? Why is it that some gentle and even-tempered people cannot form deeper bonds with their horses no matter how hard they try? And why is it that some horses bond with people who can't be described as gentle and even-tempered by a long stretch? The answer is, we don't know.
The equine-human bond remains as mysterious as the falling in love between two humans. There is something on a deeper, soul level that cannot be explained that fuels both of these phenomena. So, let us abandon attempts to explain it and continue to sing, paint, or write poems about it! It's better that way.
Happy trails, y'all!
Belgian Beauty by Jennifer L. Pratt at http://www.jenpratt.com/
Do you have any special stories about the bond between horse and man? Feel free to share in the comments.
the mind and hands behind hART Sense Design. I am a designer and hand-maker of one-of-a-kind and limited edition jewelry and accessories for artistic, chic cowgirls, boho babes, and lovers of all things western.
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