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Buying my own horse is still some years off (not planning on it until after college), but I want to know how y'all knew when a horse was your heart horse. I don't think it's a love-at-first-sight thing, I think it definitely takes getting to know the horse, but I just want to know how you can tell.

There's a mare at the stables I work for that I love, but I don't own. I wonder if she could be my heart horse because we have a connection and she does things like rest her head on my shoulder whenever I'm crying and lick me, which she doesn't do to other people. I know that you can love multiple horses in a lifetime, but a heart horse is a one-time thing. That worries me because I'm only 15 and she's 21 and I want to be able to spend time with my heart horse when I'm an adult and get in some quality time and actually have a chance to experience the horse and go through life with them. So how did you guys know when a horse was your heart horse? Have any of you had more than one heart horse?
 

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I guess I figure Renegade is my heart horse, even after going on 3 years he is excited to see me, excited to go to work stuff like that. When I turn him out he would rather hang out with me than run to the other horses, and he will leave his food to come see me if he's eating in the feeder if I walk to the fence.. so I figure if he likes me more than food I must be doing something right..LOL. The lady I bought him from early on said that that horse must love me because he would do things for me he never would do with them, and willingly to boot. The last vet checkup he had the vet flat out told me that that horse would be broken spirited if I sold him ( not that I am planning on it) but HE not me would be broken over it. Also Renegade has a heart on him, so I guess that adds to the whole heart horse thing.
 

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I believe you can have more than one "heart horse" in a lifetime. They can come into your life at different times and for different reasons but they leave a mark on your soul, moreso than other horses or animals, which is why they are a bit more special.

While I have not yet had a moment with a horse, I did have a "heart dog" so to speak. She was killed during a search and rescue exercise last year after ingesting antifreeze that had been poured around the area by cattle ranchers to kill a stray dog pack in the area. She went to remove some burrs from her paws and that was enough antifreeze to kill her. I was devastated and thought I would never find another dog like her, but another one did enter my life, but in a completely different way and we formed a completely different attachment to each other. It was kind of a "meant to be" situation and I never would have expected this dog to be another "heart dog" but she is getting to that point, in her own way and on her own time.

Don't limit yourself to thinking you'll only have one heart horse and this mare is it; chances are another will enter your life at some moment and will have just as big an impact, but possibly in a different way. :)
 

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Agree with the above. I'm on heart horse number 2 at the moment.

My first heart horse was purchased for me by my parents at the ripe old age of 3, with 60 days of training on her. Yikes! Accident waiting to happen, I know, but she was perfect for me, and by some stroke of extreme good fortune we never had a single issue. I was 12 and rode literally every day for 6 years. Mirage taught me so much, about horses and life and even about myself. I sold her when I went to college and I've regretted it every day since.

Heart horse number 2 is my avatar, Dreams. I originally bought him for $200 as a project horse, to break and resell. I didn't like him at the beginning ... He was pushy and belligerent and lazy and had no desire to be around me at all. I bought him because he was colorful and I figured a colorful horse would be easier to resell, and he had very nice movement that I could see even as a yearling would be awesome to ride. In the years we've been together he has grown on me quite a bit. His attitude has improved immensely, and while he is still a lazy ****** he is respectful, tries hard for me, and comes running when I call his name. He is teaching me so much, things I thought I knew and things I never knew I needed to know. He does in fact have the smoothest ride I've ridden in a long time, a wonderful floaty jog and a smooth as silk lope. Somewhere along the way he became much more valuable to me than his worth, and I turned down an offer just a few months ago of several thousand more than I would ever have expected to sell him for, because somewhere in our journeys together, he has officially been taken off the market. : )

So don't worry - your heart horse(s) will come along when you're least expecting it, and they will be your teachers for a while or a lifetime, and you will cherish your time spent with them even if they are eventually sold. And when your heart horse has no lessons left to teach you, another horse will volunteer for the solemn duty, and the cycle will start again.

-- Kai
 

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All I saw at first was a young mare with good conformation and a kind eye, who was the type of horse I've always been drawn to -- solid dark color, short but neither drafty nor over-refined. There wasn't anything not to like about her but we didn't have a bond or anything when I took her home. That developed slowly, over a couple of years of training and riding. The first year, I told myself, was an experiment I could bail on any time. By the second year I stopped telling myself that. We are still building ourselves into a team, I think that takes a lot of miles.

I've heard a lot of stories about "heart horses" who became heartbreak horses, because they were unsound or unsuitable and ended up being a giant vet bill or a menace. I shared a pasture with a horse who was someone's heart horse story. "I knew she was for me the minute I set eyes on her." Well, the horse was very flashy, anybody would have loved her looks. But the lady never rode her. I mean never. She had a fantasy of riding bareback over the fields, but the horse was full of beans, the lady had a terrible seat, and she got bucked off. Never rode her again, just kept her fed and shod and vetted and came and brushed her a few times a week. She'd been doing this for years before I shared a pasture with her and there is nothing to interfere with her keeping that up for years to come. Although there are worse endings to those kinds of stories, it always seemed kind of a waste to me.

Moral: you need your head and your heart both, when choosing a horse. I picked with my head (mostly), and my heart came in later. If you aren't very experienced, definitely the head needs to take precedence. But you can learn a lot from an old horse, more safely than a young one, usually. There's no horse that's going to last your whole life, considering how young you are. Now my mare is just turned seven, and I just turned 61, so I have a better chance at that than you!
 

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I have a sort of love/hate with the whole "heart horse" thing. I feel like it's just a highly over romanticized way of saying you've found a horse you absolutely adore or fits your needs. Although, I will say there's some people/horses that have created just amazing bonds - or horses who've 100% found their human.

I've had plenty of horses come into my life that I adored. There's been plenty where I've felt ashamed I was thinking about selling or leasing them out after thinking they were "the one." I could have told you when I was 15 my Arab mare was my heart horse. About 3-4 years ago I sold her to a woman who is HER human. You wouldn't believe I had owned her for ten years if you saw how she treats me now lol. She adores her new owner, always had even when I was still her owner. My WB mare is probably the only one I can say truly felt like my heart horse. She was amazing. Her old owner had such issues with her (Cally always looked mad when her previous owner messed with her lol) & wouldn't have dreamed doing half the things I did with her. She blossomed with me & was truly a different animal. She too, I eventually realized I had "outgrown" and needed a different type of home. I still loved her to death.

I could tell you I thought my OTTB was my heart horse. She was an amazing mare, truly spectacular. The more work & time I put into her though it turned out she really wasn't the horse for me. She needed someone to commit to 3x+ a week riding, lessons, etc - that's not me. It soured our bond. Now my gelding... you couldn't pry him out of my hands. Does he whinny when he seems me? Nope. Does he run up from the pasture to me? Nope, actually he runs away usually. Do I particularly think he really gives a **** about me either way? Nope. He's friendly. He does enjoy hanging out with me & doesn't mind riding. Wouldn't say I'm his best pal though lol. He definitely tolerates me better than anyone else. Very puppy dog like personality, follows me around etc.

So don't get so wrapped up on the "heart horse" idea. You'll find one you bond with & enjoy. This won't be the last horse you get along with.
 

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I've only had one, but I've heard other people have had multiples. I guess for me, lightning doesn't strike twice.


Mine was a little bay Arab gelding with minimal white. He wasn't my first horse, nor my second, but my third. I wasn't expecting to love him any more than I had the other two, but his personality was so huge and his bond with me was absolute. How do you not love an animal like that with all your heart and soul? He wasn't an easy horse, but he'd have gone through fire for me. We had 21 years together, and although I wasn't there the day he was born, I was there with him when he took his last breath. I've tried not to compare the horses that have come after him to the standard he held, but it's difficult. The mare I own now is very much like him personality wise; opinionated, snarky, and with a heart of gold. She's the closest I've come to another heart horse, but although I adore her, that extra passion just isn't there.


A true 'heart horse' if you will, is one you'd do anything for, even changing disciplines if they don't enjoy what they're doing. That's how I became a trail rider; my snarky little Arabian hated showing, but loved trail riding. Selling him was never an option, so I switched over to what he liked and the discipline in which he excelled. The day he died was one of the worst days of my life, although now with 10 years behind me I think of him with laughter and affection, instead of emotional devastation. I will always miss him, and think of him every day, but I bless the time we had together, and don't curse the years I've been without him.


At 15 y/o, you're bound to fall in love with every horse who is kind. That doesn't mean this mare is your heart, it just means you're young, idealistic, and she has a lovely personality. You have plenty of time and years to find that special one, and even if you don't there are many good, reliable horses that you can enjoy, love and have a great relationship with.
 

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I agree with the above romanticized version of the "heart horse" because I have felt the same way about men! You think you have found your soulmate but it turns out a few years down the line y'all may have been meant to be in the moment but not forever.

Jericho is a cool guy but I'm not ready to call him my "heart horse" yet. I feel like we have a few years and hundreds of miles to go before I can claim him to be that. I do have to say I did get lucky with him: I picked him out on Facebook of all places at a kill pen up in Dallas. I saw the potential and knew I might be biting off more than I could chew. I was very lucky in the sense that he has turned out to be sound and sane. It has yet to be determined if he is safe though.

If I can be honest, I had prayed for Jericho for a few months before finding him. I said "Lord, I want to rescue a horse from a kill pen. It would be really cool if he was a mustang, and it would be awesome if he was amazing. You do you God, and I will try to see your sign when it comes."

Lo and behold a few months later- there he was. 15.1 with a lovely trot off to become horsemeat the next day. I had the money but I wasn't quite ready, but anxiety filled me like nothing else. Is this the horse, I wondered? So after communicating with rescuers in his area... I took the plunge.

Would I recommend it to people to do the same? Hell no. You never know what you're actually getting doing stupid stuff like this. It worked out in the end because of my mentor and the people around me supporting me. I lucked out, and God gave me what I asked for.

So I guess my advise is when you're ready to pray for it (or ask the universe... Whatever your beliefs are) and you will know when it's right.

Good luck!
 

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A true 'heart horse' if you will, is one you'd do anything for, even changing disciplines if they don't enjoy what they're doing. That's how I became a trail rider; my snarky little Arabian hated showing, but loved trail riding. Selling him was never an option, so I switched over to what he liked and the discipline in which he excelled.
YES! THIS! I think there's a difference between keeping the horse because you're worried where they might end up and choosing the make the decision because at the end of the day you just don't care. It's not about what you're doing, but being with your horse (and doing something you both love).

OP - you're young. I thought I would own Lily (my Arab) until the end of her days. At 20 I realized she wasn't going to fit with my riding goals anymore. I found the human she adores. Then I was given the test again with Cally, who I would have considered the closest thing to my heart horse at the time. She was no longer cleared for jumping, would likely only be able to do light trails & even that she wasn't the best behaved about (she also hated flatwork). I thought I was okay with that decision. At the end of the day I had a very serious & real conversation with myself. I had a lot of good riding years to go. I wasn't done with jumping, nor showing. It didn't mean I loved her any less or she meant anything less to me, but I wasn't willing to give up my goals for her just yet. If Jameson decided tomorrow that he never wanted to jump again - I'd be fine. If he decided trails weren't for him anymore - that's good too. I know for a fact this horse will always stay with me. He's just absolutely everything I ever wanted & he's just been so fantastic.
 

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I got my first horse two years ago and I chose with my head. It was a good decision but my heart isn't really catching up yet.

My mare is safe, but doesn't particularly enjoy being ridden or my company. She doesn't throw tantrums but she politely makes it known that she would rather be elsewhere - every 30 seconds. It's very irritating to me as an animal lover to feel like I'm forcing her into something which she finds unpleasant.

So, even though she is the right horse for me physically (since I don't have any broken bones) it does get me down emotionally and makes riding and hanging out with my horse less pleasant than I hoped for. Ah, well.
 

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I have had and still have ,several horses that had/have a special place in my heart, but my gelding Einstein still.
has a little place in my heart, reserved for him alone
I don't know if the term heart horse applies-it is just a horse that you have a connection with, slightly above that which you have with any other horse
You know that only with time. Einstein was born at our place, just like many other horses, and that connection certainly was no different at birth, then with any other horse, and in fact, he was for sale as a yearling
Only when I started to ride him, went through a hard time in my life, did he become special,helping me through that time, giving me a purpose.
Yea, sounds corny from someone who raised horses, but there it is!
 

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I think you just know...

You can have more than 1, you can also love many horses, but there is definitely another level I'd put 'heart horse' under.
I found mine, when I didn't want to buy, didn't think I was ready to commit, but after a week of leasing him, I just knew he was very very special.
He is the horse I would do anything for. And I can tell, I will end up doing everything for.
 

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I have my heart horse right now, have had him two years and bought him as a four year old only backed. I was looking for a project at the time and one day I walked into the barn where I board and the owner had brought in two paint geldings, half brothers, who she was trying to help sell for someone. I wanted to buy one and they said pick which one I wanted. So I walked into the indoor where Wyatt stood. It was odd, I looked at him and said to myself Yup that one. He had a kind eye, calm demeanor that just put my anxiety at ease. Of course I went and looked at his half brother, but I knew my choice was made on Wyatt, especially after learning his half brother was running bred on the dam's side. (I'm not to keen on running bred).
Since then I've been the only one to ride him, did all the work myself on him. He comes before I have to start calling him, seems to be particular about my scent, that he likes it to the point that he'll sniff the inside of my helmet and vest, and he's helped me alot with my anxiety. That's how I know he's my heart horse.
 

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For whatever reason, there are certain animals that have that extra something. I have my heart horse right now, I just love her to death. I love my other two but this mare just has that something extra for me.
I've also had a heart dog years ago. She passed back in 2006 and I was devastated. I loved my other dogs but not like her, it was just different. I didn't think that I would have a dog like her again. Now I got this new pup for a companion to the older girl that I have and I just adore this pup. Another heart dog. We just click, she just has that something extra for me.
I didn't know that my heart horse or my heart dogs would be that when I got them, it just turned out that way. As a matter of fact, when I chose this new pup between her and her brother, my brain was saying that I was probably making a mistake. She just seemed so independent and bossy compared to her laid back and relaxed brother. I chose not to think about it too much and brought her home anyway. So glad that I did.
 
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I don't buy into the heart horse thing. As noted above, if you buy with your head, and not your heart, you'll get the horse you need at the time you need it. Over the course of a lifetime, some will stand out. In nearly 6 decades in the saddle, I can count 3.

Nearly all the horses I've worked with in all that time, belonged to someone else. There have been plenty of good horses in that mix. I appreciated them and moved on. Of the three memorable ones, one belonged to my family, one to the Army, and one to me. The reason they stand out is that they did what I needed a horse to do at that time in my life, and did it well.
 

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The main thing is to not fall for the romantic fantasy now current, the idea that there is a magical bond between (a girl) and one certain horse, just waiting to be recognized.

Occasionally there is, but mostly what there is, is a degree of trust based on mutual respect, earned by time spent together doing stuff.
 

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To know that a horse is your "heart horse", you have to have owned several. It's not impossible that your first horse will be your heart horse of course, but you have nothing to compare it with. I also think you can have more than one heart horse, if you really want to call it that. And your first may remain special just because it was your first.

I've owned five horses in my life so not as many as many other folks here. I had three as a child/teen, then two as an adult. I also leased a couple along the way. Of all those horses, if I was going to say one is my heart horse, it would be my daughter's Arab, Harley. Most people fall in love with him right away because he has such a charming personality, and is very outgoing so easy to get to know. Vets and trimmers love him. He's intelligent, fun, reliable and affectionate so what's not to love? But there is another level for me. I am the mother of a young girl who fell in love with horses like I did at her age. To see this Arab carry my daughter around safely, win her ribbons, and take care of her, is something horsey moms value more than anything. But since I am the main caretaker of both our horses, they also have a special bond with me because I am the carryer and deliverer of food (let's be honest about it).

I love my gentle mare Kodak, but she is anxious and has to be won over. That's something we're working on. And I had some cute ponies and a very good, kind QH growing up. But none compare to our special Harley. That's why at 18, he is with us forever and is done getting passed around. When he can no longer carry around my daughter, or when she outgrows him, he will retire here and spend however many years he has left enjoying our pastures and receiving the best care possible. And maybe teaching a few more beginners how to ride.
 

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I don't go for the notion of a "heart horse." But I do try to be every horse's "heart rider/owner/handler."
 
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