The Five Reasons we Love School Horses January 18 2015

The five reasons we love school horses
Model Lauren Smith in Black Twill Hot Jods. Pictured at Knollwood Farm.


You may have seen the hashtag #ThankGodForSchoolHorses floating around the twittersphere/facebooksphere/spheresphere these days. It got us thinking: of course we love school horses, but what are the exact reasons?  Obviously, school horses are the most precious of animals, so the answers to this important question could go on and on and on, but we dared to narrow it down to just a top five.

1. Their vast intelligence

Have you ever seen a school horse pick up a trot, reverse, or do virtually anything that the teeny tiny child on its back should be telling it to do, if only they had the experience, the will, or the strength to ask the horse properly? We sure have!  School horses know their job down to the smallest of tasks and will follow their school horse brothers and sisters, rider or no rider, to make sure they get the job done.

2. Their patience

A big part of school horses knowing their job is having the patience to let a tiny tot desperately try to hold their foot up to pick out their feet.  While that young equestrian fumbles around trying to hold what must feels like a ton of bricks, school horses just stand there, munching on some hay, letting it all happen. It allows these young equestrians to safely learn about horse care and gain the confidence and strength to do so as they grow up.

3. Their loving nature

No creature is more caring than a school horse.  While your show horse may love you and the candies you bring, they are show horses for a reason - and many of them (though NOT ALL) are total divas or divos. School horses are often horses that have been rejected, repurposed, or rescued, and they need you, need their job, and love their kids. I’ve seen a school horse do a SLIDING stop when a kid fell off to make sure they didn’t step on or hit them, and then walk over to check on that frightened child, who was covered in dirt and crying.  They feel bad when a kid falls off they want to make sure they are okay, just as any instructor does.

4. Their personality

Absolutely EVERY horse has a personality.  This trait isn’t exclusive to school horses, but a school horse’s personality is what makes them:

  1. so much fun to have around, and;
  2. such valuable teachers.

Some horses tolerate a stronger hand on the bridle or a stronger leg and others do not.  Learning to deal with these variances in personality help a rider become a well rounded equestrian. More horses to learn from means more things to learn, because no two horses are the same.  And let’s face it, we all give extra candies to the school horses that nicker at you when he or she hears the crinkle of a peppermint wrapper and we have an extra laugh when the sassy horse of the bunch drags a tiny tot into the middle of the arena to say “I’m done and this kid is too small to do anything about it.”

5. Their legacy

Entire generations of riders at barns with school horses did things like have their first ride or learn to canter all on one horse.  They are the “professors” of a school program.  They are the safest, the quietest of school horses; the horses that you can pop a quarter into and they will just trot or canter calmly until you ask them to walk.  They are the horses that bring that goofy smile to a child’s face when they feel that first bouncy trot or the smooth rocking of a canter. Then there are school horses that somehow become benchmarks for riding ability and when you ride them for the first time, you find people saying “wow” or “congratulations!” They are the school horses that teach you valuable lessons about more difficult and nuanced aspects of equestrianism and they are the horses that challenge you, make you doubt your ability, and make you push through that doubt to reach a whole new level.

There has never been a truer hashtag than #ThankGodForSchoolHorses.  Do you have a story about a school horse at your barn?  Share it with us in the comments down below or on Facebook!