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The history of the horse is a long and arduous one. For me, it conjures up visions of an awesome creature striking across the grassy plain, ever vigilant to the threat of danger.

"Thou shalt fly without wings and conquer without a sword." — the Quran

I am not a reader of the Quran, but I did come across the above in my general reading and it set me to thinking about horses. I was reminded of the quote as I leafed through back issues of Northwest Rider, an equestrian newspaper I published some years ago. As I contemplated the beautiful stallions appearing in its pages, I had to wonder, has God ever created a more winsome creature? Doubtful. Perhaps only the child of one's flesh.Jewett

The history of the horse is a long and arduous one. For me, it conjures up visions of an awesome creature striking across the grassy plain, ever vigilant to the threat of danger. He accepts and even seeks challenges to his dominance of the herd — nostrils flaring, breathing fire down a hot wind, cleaving the earth with a molten hoof … OK, so sometimes I get carried away. Not everyone has this love affair with the horse, my husband tells me. Well, why not? What animal could be more deserving?

It's not as though I think horses are perfect. On the animal intelligence scale, statistical studies show that horses rank a disappointing distance behind the highly regarded, but not so beautiful, pig. These are surprising statistics because many of us think our horses are exceptionally intelligent. However, as far as I'm concerned, Mark Twain had it right when he said, "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies … and statistics."

My horses have always been smart. I know, there are those of you who have heard me utter a negative comment on occasion to a horse exhibiting regrettable behavior … as in "Cut that out, you stupid [email protected]!" But in retrospect and in reality, I was mostly angry because the horse had outsmarted me. Consider the following: A horse always knows where your feet are and can place one of his on top of one of yours unerringly and without even looking down. He can find the lone weak spot in a 2-mile fence line and push through it (picking locks is another attribute many horses share.) Holding his breath while you're cinching the saddle is an old trick. But letting it out in small micro-breaths shows talent. You know you checked the cinch, so why are you suddenly riding sidesaddle? The term "sidesaddle" in this case means you find yourself and your saddle dangling from the side of the horse.

Understanding that a horse may spook at a cat because it appears three times larger to his eye than to the human eye is instructive — his reaction is not stupid, but instead, an act of survival.

I would love to know my horse's thoughts sometimes, but until he opens his mouth and tells me he's not going through that puddle because he knows it's a sinkhole, I'll just have to trust his instincts and remember that there's a reason, and probably a smart one, for the way he's behaving. That's why he's still here after fifty million years.

Kay Cora Jewett can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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