Do you have Horse Sense?

Kim Lemmon and her Percheron mare, Julie, at the 2011 Morrow County Fair.

Welcome to a new feature of Ohio’s Country Journal, “Horse Sense.” This section is meant to educate and entertain farm families in Ohio that keep a horse or two around to enjoy. Some of you may be experienced horse folks and some of you may just love horses, but probably all of you realize these “hay burners,” as many non-horse loving farmers like to call them, will constantly surprise you.

Whether you are the horse lover in the family or the significant other who “puts up” with the horses, you are likely to find something useful and interesting in “Horse Sense.” It is my hope that the articles featured on these pages will educate, entertain and inspire you.

My credentials are listed at the bottom of this page, but I think I can justifiably say that I have made and witnessed enough mistakes with horses to have earned my “horse sense.” Each month, some members of the Ohio’s Country Journal staff will share some of their experiences, answer questions you submit, and allow experts to address equine topics so that you can elevate your own “horse sense” minus some of the falls, embarrassments and dangerous situations we have put ourselves in on the way to earning ours.

I have owned horses since I was a kid, but my husband, Mark, married into them. I was already a 4-H horse judge and had just started a part-time riding lesson program when we met. During our engagement, many knowing horse hubbies would advise Mark to “run while he still had his money,” but thankfully for me he did not. However, I think I can now with all confidence say that after eight years of marriage he is still constantly surprised by what he signed on for when he married a horse nut.

Mark grew up in a small town with no livestock of any kind. To him, a successful ride on a horse was one that was fast enough to blow your cowboy hat off and ended in a hard pull on the horse’s mouth and an abrupt and bouncy stop like in the old cowboy movies.

He lacked a general understanding of the dangerous qualities of horses and their tendency to always try to kill themselves. Most of you have had firsthand experience about how these massive animals are really very fragile.

After we were married and the horses moved home, Mark would try to help with riding lessons from time to time, and he would often get into trouble with me for the “helpful” things he did. It seemed he could do nothing right for his impatient horse wife.

Whether he was pulling too hard, yelling too loud, cueing incorrectly, bouncing too hard or standing in the wrong place, my common retort was, “Don’t you have any sense? You’re going to get killed.”

Mark did have commonsense, or at least I like to think so. He did, after all, marry a bossy horsewoman, so I guess that is debatable. What he lacked was “horse sense.”

I often ask him why he couldn’t just believe me and do as I said, but maybe everyone has to learn through their own misfortunes. So, if you’re struggling with the safety or education of your non-horsey partner or wish to increase your horse knowledge with a little less misfortune than how Mark and I earned ours, read this section monthly as we present humorous horse stories and educational articles to help you earn your own “horse sense.”

Kim Lemmon has been a member of the Ohio’s Country Journal staff since 1999. She has owned horses since she was a child and has been an Ohio 4-H horse judge since 2000. She earned a minor in Equine Science from The Ohio State University in 1999, and until 2010 operated her own riding lesson program that included coaching a college equestrian program for eight years. She was a member of The Ohio State University Equestrian Club in the late 1990s where she earned two individual and two team national championships in horsemanship, and she currently owns a Percheron mare, a team of ponies, and a bunch of pygmy goats. She is a first generation horsewoman who has learned a lot the hard way. She invites you to submit your comments and questions to ocjstaff@ocj.com so you can hopefully have an easier road to increasing your “horse sense.”

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