A few weeks ago I had three interesting equine-related appointments, one of which I had scheduled and didn't quite go as planned, and two that were completely spontaneous. The first was with a novice horsewoman and the others were with veteran owners/riders, and all reminded me of how once horses are woven into your life, you don't ever really get away from them even if you aren't in an ownership situation (as I am right now). Also I was reminded of simply how they bring joy to their owners, riders, or handlers.
Jen and Rosie the Mule
One of my best friends isn't a horsewoman, but she accompanied another one of our riding friends and me to Wyoming in 2005 for a girls' trip. She's easygoing and athletic and is a natural rider. My friends who hosted us, the Sellnows, put Jen on a mule named Rosie, and the two of them bonded and had a fabulous time, picking their way up and down mountainous trails and chatting by the trailer (I caught Jen a few times hanging out with Rosie, patting the mule's face and stroking her sizable ears and telling her what a lovely mule she was.).

Due to the great forethought of the Sellnows and my friends the Prestons, who recognize that a trusty equine mount should always have a role, Rosie is retired from her ranching life and is now living here in Lexington. She's bringing up the Prestons' young boys in their horsemanship skills. Jen caught wind of Rosie's presence in the Bluegrass and wanted nothing more on her birthday than to go for a ride.

Torrential rain would not allow for the hack we'd anticipated, but we went out and spent a few hours grooming Rosie and her stablemates. Truthfully, we probably had as much fun grooming and hanging out with the animals as we would have riding. Jen's mother-in-law has a boarding farm in Florida and a lot of her family's love--and that of her friends--for horses has worn off on her. It'll be fun to see if she and her husband ever become horse owners.

The next week I was in Colorado for a board meeting, and I stole away for a few hours to work on my laptop at a scenic overlook. A man and a horse suddenly crested the hill toward me, and the horse had curious-looking nubs for ears. I asked the man if his gelding had frostbite at one time and he confirmed this, both of us marveling at the chances that an editor of a horse health publication (who would recognized previously frostbitten ears) and "Croppy" the happy Quarter Horse would meet. The rider, Rich, is retired and this is how he enjoys passing his time—exercising Croppy and other horses at the mount's barn. He lit up as he spoke about his retirement gig. Gotta say, I was a little jealous!Rich and Croppy the frostbite horse

Just two days later at a Colorado coffee shop, I overheard some horse talk. A couple was discussing two horses they'd taken in recently that needed a place to land and a purpose. We struck up a conversation, and they explained they were determining the suitability of one of the horses--a Mustang--for different riding disciplines and rider experience, the horse's current behavior challenges, and what type of training they were going to arrange for him. They weren't sure how this horse was going to turn out, but they were hopeful that they'd find his niche and were actively searching for solutions.

All three parties had a gleam in their eye about their involvement with horses. This was good for me to see and made me want to get out to the barn to visit friends' horses more often.

You never really do get horses out of your blood. And even if you're currently "without horse," there are always horse people (and even non-horse people) around to remind you that these animals always find a way to lift our spirits and bring us joy.

How have you been reminded of this recently?