“What is it with women and horses?” asked my neighbor, a retired cowboy whose last horse had died two years earlier. “Ninety percent of the folks you see ridin’ horses are women.”

When he was still ranching, did this man like his horse? You bet. Did he appreciate the contribution his horse made to his work? Without a doubt. He just didn’t ride unless he had cattle to gather or fence lines to check, times when he needed a horse to do whatever it was he needed to do.

I think this pretty much describes the difference between the sexes when it comes to horses: Men ride because they need to, women ride because we want to. The kind and quality of the connection between women and horses is simply different for women than for men.

Difference Begins Early in Life

It’s a difference that begins early in life. The young girl who won’t lift a finger to help her mother in the house will ride her bike through pouring rain in order to spend the morning grooming her pony and mucking out stalls, activities her brother would consider as punishment.

Part of the intensity of bond between women and horses is power. Sitting atop 1100 pounds of strong, graceful muscle definitely makes you feel powerful in a way that nothing else does-and despite all the societal changes that have occurred, few women enjoy the same level of economic and political power that men do.

If a woman has good self-esteem, a partnership with a horse will support and increase her feelings of pleasurable empowerment and autonomy. A woman with low self-esteem will likely use her horse as a means of expressing her anger and frustration instead.

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