Last Updated on February 19, 2022 by Allison Price
Why women love horses: The connection between horses, girls, and later women has been hidden from sociologists until recently.Corrie Bruning, a seventeen-year old girl admits she is a horse girl. She enjoys caring for the 12 horses at her family’s boarding barn. But she also loves riding Beauregard, her Haflinger mare, and enjoying the ride.
Bruning says, “It is confidence.” Bruning says, “I can see the difference between me & my non-horse buddies. If I have a problem–even though I am afraid of it–I deal with it and move on. They usually don’t try anything that scares me.”Get our weekly Enewsletter about horses
The Girl/Horse Connection
Bruning isn’t the only one. Jean Halley, professor of sociology, College of Staten Island, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), says that the connection between horses, women, and men is more than something that “horse husbands”, as they like to joke about at barn parties. It’s a real phenomenon. She should be aware that she wrote Horse Crazy: Girls and Horses.
Halley recalls, “I was a horse-crazy little girl growing up in Wyoming & Montana.” “Then, I had a little girl who was horse-crazy. We were in Manhattan and there weren’t any horses so I started to wonder. I did some research and found that no one had ever studied this.
Halley interviewed 25 female horse-crazy girls to find out why they love horses. The interviewees included rescue volunteers, horse owners, and women who have overcome physical challenges through the support of horses.
Halley said that she spoke to a woman who had volunteered at a rescue and she explained that most of them were older than 60 years old and had been horse-crazy girls. They handled the horses, groomed and mucked their stables–anything meaningful for the horses.
She spoke to women who had overcome fear and other significant physical challenges to be able to remain connected with their horses.
Halley states that many of the women she spoke to had broken bones, including their legs and arms. But girls who ride can overcome fear. They might be scared, but they are able to ride through it. It has to do with the fact they are in a partnership, which happens to be 1,200 pound.
A major turnaround
When Debbie Conklin was diagnosed over 20 years ago with cryptococcal medinitis, it was her desire to get back on the horse.
She says that her muscles had become weaker and she weighed in at 96 pounds. She recalls, “My fear was that my body would not be able physically to recover to ride.”
Conklin could only groom her Paint mare at first. Three months later she was back in saddle.
She recalls that she started with a walk to build up her stamina, and balance. It was difficult, but muscle memory was there.
Conklin now rides Elle on a regular basis, trains Elle regularly and takes part in horse shows when she can.
She says, “It helps me my muscles and my personal outlook to keep going.”
A nurturing relationship
Halley says that this determination is directly related to the reason women love horses. It is the relationship women have with horses.img alt=”Older lady with horse” src=”https://www.horseillustrated.com/wp-content/uploads/older-woman-rider-ss-300×200.jpg”/>Many of the 60-year-old women Halley interviewed were once horse-crazy. Photo by Lindsay Helms/Shutterstock
Halley says that everything happens within a relationship. Women feel secure with their horses, even when they’re afraid. In fact, women report feeling the most secure around their horses. “They also feel empowered when they have an intimate relationship with their horses. They feel stronger and more secure.
Bruning is in agreement.
She says, “When I ride, I don’t think about what I cannot do, but instead, I think about what my can do.” “I also feel that I can leave a problem on ground and have more confidence to fix it after I ride.
Halley also suggests that women might naturally form relationships with horses. This is because girls learn early to care for horses.
She says, “Even though you don’t give dolls to your daughter, everyone else will.” Women are naturally inclined to care for their pets, and this is a common trait.
Halley said that Halley cites a woman who reported that her horse refused to eat when she was at the hospital for an injury. “Eventually, her friends put a telephone up to the horse’s ears so she could communicate with him and let him know that she was okay. He began to eat again after hearing her voice.
A Lifelong Passion
Halley says that while there is a strong bond between horses and women, it may not be conscious for a girl to choose to be a “horsegirl”. This is because, while not all horses are crazed, many horse-crazy girls raise horses-crazy daughters.
Girls who aren’t horse-crazy may still be horse-crazy.
Conklin remembers that while I was living in New Jersey, my neighbor said to me, “Don’t worry, this is just a phase, and Deb’ll grow out of horses.” My mom used to look at me over the years and say, “You never grew out the horse thing.” But, horse-crazy girls become horse women and have forever changed the face and culture of equestrian sport in general.
Halley says that men used to dominate western pleasure, reining, and cutting. As more women compete and win in these events, the number young men who participate in all equestrian activities is decreasing.
“Boys are teased about it so they don’t want to get involved with a sport that’s most often associated with women.” The shift offers new opportunities for horsewomen to work with horses of all ages.
Conklin states, “It’s about growth, acceptance and unconditional love. It’s also about continuous education for my horse, and myself.” I would tell young horsewomen that they should keep doing what is right. Don’t give up if you love this horse.