A Horse’s Person

I’ve been putting a lot of thought, time, and careful work into my relationship with Tonka. He arrived at the beginning of December but it took more than a month before he showed any signs that my attention meant something to him. I’m consistent in my behavior, kind and quiet in my actions, and I reward him for his cooperation. I balance the challenging training work in the ring with relaxed trail rides. I hand graze him. I brush him. I tell him that he is a good boy. (He likes this very much. The best horses are arrogant.) Now, when he sees me coming towards his paddock, he lifts his head. He comes to the gate. When I groom him, he stands in a calm contentment. When I ride him, he pays attention and tries to understand what I’m asking him to do. Tonka has decided that I’m his person.

I’m sure that’s what’s going on in this photograph, too. The woman is relaxed. She’s so confident in her horse that she hasn’t even picked up the reins. Her horse is turning around, checking on her. His ears are forward in a way that shows he’s eager but not fearful. He’s ready to go, but he’s waiting for her say so. A horse and person partnership beautiful thing.



  1. I just love this picture…….could you train Tonka to pull a cart?

      • Terri, if I may ask, do you have anything against carriage work? Or is it just not what you’re interested in?

        • Nothing at all against carriage driving. But, to drive, you have to have the right roads – nice dirt tracks like they have in Vermont. It’s all paved roads around here and way too much traffic! (That said, I support the continuing use of carriage horses in Central Park.) Besides, I like sitting on Tonka’s back. Driving is fine, but for other people.

  2. What a lovely, interesting photograph. I wonder who the lady was (and the horse)? I wonder what their story is – history is so interesting.

  3. After studying the photo more closely, I don’t think she is the driver, but her beau is and stopped to take the picture. The driver sits on the right side of the buggy, see the whip in the holder.

    • I wondered about that, too. She does look like she’s waiting for someone and has left room for him. She’s also dressed so elegantly and expensively, which belies what looks like a landscape out west.

  4. With minimal harness and no head checking crap to stop him from looking at her. Awesome. (There’s a name for it, but I’m sleep deprived for the third night in a row. Gaaaaah.)

  5. My sister had horses for most of her life. She was introduced to them as part of her chores in an abusive foster care environment (taken in for farm help), and bought her first horse as soon as she graduated from high school. I believe they saved her life, and definitely helped to shape her personality as a kind person, committed to and trusting of those who deserved it. You’re so right that the partnership that she had with horses was a beautiful thing!