Horses are synonymous with little girls in the same way that we always associate the color pink or princesses with them. Still, the question remains as to why they feel this way and why this predisposition to love a specific animal to such an extent so aggressively often extends far into adulthood?
The reason why women like horses so much varies between individuals but, generally, it is because horses give women feelings of power, strength, ability, independence, and freedom of expression. These characteristically male traits blend with the nurturing nature of females, which finds further expression through caring for the horse.
The relationship specifically between horses and women is especially interesting when one considers the connotations. This article will take an in-depth look at why girls start loving ponies from such an early age, and why women have such an inexplicable love for these animals.
The Fairytale Myth
The predisposition for girls to love horses starts at an early age. The reasoning behind why this happens stems from the fact that girls are simply introduced to horses from an earlier age because of what we can term the “fairytale myth.”
Horses are synonymous with fairytales, and the hero, Prince Charming, is almost always mounted on some or other noble steed, which impressively gallops across vast moors or charges into castle battlements to rescue the princess from a terrible evil.
The horse is here often described as powerful, majestic, and, best of all, beautiful.
This theme extends to the idea that horses are generally considered girly and made to look pretty, so girls have a natural inclination to like them. We present little girls with My Little Pony and unicorns and then wonder why they are so fascinated by their real-life counterparts.
My Little Pony, unicorns, and Black Beauty are key figures in the lives of little girls across the world. These horses or horse-like creatures are always strikingly beautiful and powerful or soft and fluffy or ridiculously cute.
Horses are therefore considered “girly,” and girls find themselves consuming content related to horses from a very early age throughout their adolescence.
They are presented to the young girl with a brush with which they can tend to the mane and tail. This form of bonding is directly in correlation with the love a mother has for her daughters, which the daughter feels when her mother brushes her hair. This nurturing nature is then passed on to the daughter from the mother (source).
Freedom of Expression
Horses, due to their physical stature, give women the feeling of power, strength, ability, and control. These are all characteristically male traits that women aren’t generally able to explore as much. They are made to play with tea sets and Easy Bake Ovens, dolls, and other quiet indoor games.
However, provide a young woman with a horse, and she is allowed to be outside, experiencing freedom of expression in a socially-accepted activity. Girls that are more independent and perhaps not as adept at other more female-centric activities, generally find a sense of freedom in horse riding (source).
It is in the female nature to strive to be independent. Coincidentally, independence is not only key but one of the best characteristics of a horse rider.
Although group lessons are often taught, horse riding is, by its very nature, an individual sport. When you sit astride the horse’s back and ride, it is just you and the animal. You are in control. You are independent.
Girls experience independence and learn to think for themselves, consider repercussions of their actions, and explore the extent of their physical ability through horse riding.
Horse riding is one of the best schools of independence there is, and that is why the girl or woman that strives for independence will find that the key to that lies in the saddle (source).
For centuries, women have been considered inferior to their male counterparts, and therefore enjoyed less time in the societal spotlight and not been as respected as men.
Horses afford women the ability to express themselves, their physical ability, their control, power, and strength through riding. Women can gain acceptance and respect in society by mastering such a big and wilful animal as the horse.
On a more casual note, the riding community is quite partial to inspirational quotes regarding the freedom that horses lend us. An old favorite is the idea that horses let us “fly without wings.”
This “flight” can be understood in the vein that horses allow us to not only experience physical freedom but emotional freedom as well.
When you are on the back of the horse, out in the natural world, braving the elements and allowing yourself to be carried by a 1200-pound flight animal with the power to kill you, you leave the ordinary everyday troubles behind.
On the back of the horse, you can forget about everything in your life that is bothering you and focus on a single moment. You can live in a single moment and experience a sense of emotional freedom, the likes of which are few and far between. That is where the magic happens.
Empowerment and Gender Equality
Women account for almost 50% of all humanity and, in some countries, they even outnumber men. Even so, for centuries, women have been treated as inferior. Women have been the gatherers, the water carriers, and worked harder for smaller rewards as well as having had a humbler status in society.
For centuries women have been educated less, have received less legal protection, and even denied what we now consider to be fundamental rights. The notion of equality, of women on par with men, is a completely new concept only applicable to our present century (source).
Horses empower women to compete on a level playing field with their male counterparts. Horse riding allows women and girls to get outside, explore, take risks, and be physical — generally, things not expected of little girls. Horses allow girls to challenge the gender norm and compete on par with boys.
Although horse riding is also practiced by men and was a necessity for boys and young men to learn in the past, nowadays, girls are more likely to ride horses in their youth. Girls are taught to feel that it’s alright to express fear, whereas boys are more likely to hide their fear.
Sitting astride a horse is scary. The animal is large and powerful with incredible strength in legs that kick and teeth that bite. They also startle easy, may refuse commands, and can think for themselves. This is why horse riding is scary, especially when you fall.
Girls tend to embrace their fear, learn to acknowledge it and, in doing so, power through — making themselves more powerful in the process. It’s the old adage of “courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway” (source).
Additionally, at the top level of the sport, in the Olympic Games, women and men compete head-to-head — the only sport where this is done, cementing the fact that horse riding levels the playing field (source).
The Human and Horse Connection
The question regarding why women love horses is a universal one, but the real question should be why horses trust humans so completely. Horses show affection to humans in various ways, some of which may be obvious, but the trust remains somewhat of a mystery.
Horses are large, heavy, and incredibly powerful animals. Their physical size and strength means that they can easily kill a human in the blink of an eye. The fact that they don’t, and even let this far more feeble creature ride upon their back and tell them what to do, is testament to their fascinating relationship with the human race.
The reason why horses trust women, and why women love horses in return, can be linked to empathy. Generally speaking, women are better at empathy, and that extends to horses as these creatures have the uncanny knack of mirroring feelings.
Horses hold up a window to their rider. They always know when you’ve had a bad day, and they can feel tension, fear, adoration, respect, and more by just being around you. What makes them different from other animals is that they then mirror this back to their rider or caretaker.
That is why you need to be able to control your emotions as horses feel this and react to it. This type of innate empathy is much more within a woman’s wheelhouse as they are more likely to be able to identify and control their emotions than men (source).
Additionally, women have a natural mothering instinct and want to nurture, and that extends to caring for living creatures. Horses may be large and powerful, but they are one of the animals most prone to injury and really quite fragile.
If a horse in a wild herd were to injure one of their four legs, they would be abandoned by their kin to die. Humans, especially women, help them heal.
Most women also experience joy from caretaking, and that translates well into the care of horses as they need to be groomed, taken care of, fed, and their stalls need to be mucked out so that they have a nice, warm, and safe space to sleep.
Although men ride and compete on horses as well, it is widely accepted that women and especially young girls love horses to a greater extent than men.
Women and girls love horses for a number of reasons but the most prominent reasons are because horses allow women freedom of expression and lend them feelings of power, ability, and control along with a sense of independence.
Along with that, women have a natural nurturing nature that extends to the actual caretaking associated with horses.
Horses also allow women to compete on a level playing field with men and challenge the gender norm. But most of all, horses allow women to be themselves and express themselves in the way they see fit.