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In a world of computer games, the Internet and shopping malls, what is it about this four-legged farm animal that seems to capture the heart of most of them?
According to a recent study by the American Horse Council, 1.9 million Americans own horses -- just over 4 million people are recreational riders and 3.6 million show horses. The horse industry has a $112.1 billion impact on the US gross domestic product: greater than the movie industry and the tobacco manufacturing industry.
Even with people mainly in cities, horses have really disappeared from daily life for most North Americans. And yet their appeal hasn't faded.
I wonder why.
As a youngster, I was enthralled with horses. I read books about horses, took riding lessons and all of my drawings were of horses. It's a girl thing mostly. I didn't come from an equestrian background.
It does have benefits. You learn to control a large muscle-y animal which may prepare you for being married to another version of one. A horse weighs about half a ton. You can't be shy around a horse. You learn to be confident and firm.
The general care of a horse which includes brushing, mucking out stalls and feeding gives you a feeling of responsibility. It's a healthier environment - a riding stable can delay the problems of dating and drugs. It 's a great physical activity.
In an age where teenagers find that television's problems are dealt with in 30 minutes, riding takes a longer, more dedicated approach. I think girls who ride make better drivers because you're trained to look forward and plan what's ahead. No one wants to get hit by an overhead branch on a trail. It' is a monetary investment but I think it's on par with boys playing hockey and the equipment that entails. Overall, I would say it is money well spent.
About the Author
Gwen Jones is an adult living in Toronto, Canada and rides when she can.