Bud has a new friend.

A darling little blond haired girl with cowboy boots and a passion for horses.

At age three!

This was her first horse-to-person encounter, and you can see from the smile on her face and the way she is lounging atop Bud, that she is extremely comfortable.

This little girl was ready to ride.

And, as usual, Bud was the perfect gentleman – calm and easygoing. He allowed her to sit on his back as he ate his grain. And then when he finished, he kindly consented to go for a short walk so this little darling could feel what it’s like to be on a moving horse.

Thank you Bud!

No worries with this sweet old guy.

Girls and horses have long had a very special relationship. Some people speculate that horses help girls feel powerful. Certainly gaining competence in managing a twelve hundred pound animal creates a sense of accomplishment. And yes, maybe even power. Personal empowerment.

I know I’ve felt empowered, as I’ve gained skill and familiarity with our two old sweeties.

And their friends.

In the past, horses were  used for work or financial gain in what was primarily a male dominated environment. And certainly some of that still exists today on ranches and racetracks – still more men than women.

But a huge majority of horses have become companion animals, kept for pleasure instead of work.

And their companions are overwhelmingly female.

When I look around the boarding facility where Bud and Pepper live, I see few men coming to spend time with their horses.

It’s a woman’s world out there. Female trainers and their students, school-age girls, college students and women like me make up the majority of boarders.

In an NPR article last winter, Laurel Braitman, an MIT graduate student in the history of science who writes about animals and what we think about them, suggested that horses are “borderland creatures – gateway animals to other worlds.”

Horses and the work that goes into keeping them, the grooming, feeding, and training, may indeed empower girls. There is nothing like the feeling of wind in your face as you move across the prairie on a galloping horse.

It’s power, control and being just on the edge of danger.  Heady stuff.

But it is also about the relationship with these amazing animals.

Horses are all heart, and give so willingly to please the humans with whom they share their lives. It’s that soul connection that thrills me. Every time I’m with the horses, I know I am in the presence of greatness.

And that’s what keeps me coming back.