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  • Writer's pictureSuzy Maloney B.Eq.Sc.

Ode to Minka - The Emotional World of Horses

two horses grazing peacefully together
Rumpy and Minka - A Deep Emotional Relationship

For sixteen years I had the good fortune to walk beside a beautiful soul called Minka. She came into my life as a dressage horse, then later was a fabulous trail horse and finally her role was as guardian and carer of everyone in her life. In honour of this amazing horse, I would like to share some stories which demonstrate the depth of not only her, but all horses. The emotional world of horses was shown to me in depth by this horse, so here is an ode to Minka.

At the time the herd consisted of Minka - a beautiful thoroughbred mare in her prime, Darcy - a stunning stockhorse/arab who had been with us many years as Minkas partner and was aging at this point, and Rumpy - a young brumby who had been a stallion in the wild for the first five years of his life and who was now Minkas number one. I was introducing a new horse, Soray - a gorgeous young bay thoroughbred gelding, to the paddock.

Despite my best efforts to do a slow introduction Soray broke out of the enclosure I put him, resulting in him being in the main paddock with the others. Rumpy still exhibited a lot of stallion behaviours and pursued Soray until he stood still, whereupon Rumpy started biting at his legs and flanks, forcing Soray to submit completely. It was quite confronting to see such aggressive behaviour, but I knew it had to be sorted out for them all to live together peacefully. Meanwhile Minka had left Rumpy as his companion and took up post around Darcy. She put her body between him and Soray constantly, and maintained this for weeks, never leaving his side, until she was sure Soray would not harm Darcy, at which point she returned to hanging out with Rumpy.

Everything seemed settled so shortly after I went out for a trail ride on Rumpy. The house was situated at the top of a long driveway with an open paddock all the way from the bottom gate to the house. This meant that when I went out riding, I would come in through the bottom gate and ride up to the house to untack, going through the paddock. I’d been doing this for years and there was never an issue to ride through the paddock where the herd lived. Until this day.

We came through the gate, and I started riding up the driveway when suddenly Minka galloped straight at me with that fierce mare look on her face. I had no time to dismount or do anything, I remember thinking ‘this is it; I’m gone.’ Then at the last minute she wheeled to a stop and started circling around me, presenting her hindquarters to Soray if he even looked my way. I started breathing again then continued riding up the driveway with Minka keeping pace with us. She trotted circles around us the whole way up to the house, where she then considered I was safe and returned to the herd. Never in my life have I received such an escort. Her protective instinct and what she would do to protect her loved ones blew my mind, and I felt so honoured that she included me on that list.

Several years when by and my mother passed away. After three weeks at her death bed, then the funeral, I returned home. While it was a great blessing to have been there with my mother at this time, the grief I experienced was unlike anything I’d felt before. I got home from the airport and went straight into the horse paddock. I walked to the horses’ favourite camp tree and sat below it. And sobbed. Minka came over and placed her face on my cheek and held it there. Then Soray came over and put his face against my other cheek. I sat there sobbing until I was dry, with a horse touching each side of my face. That these two could hold this space for me and be so present and caring still blows my mind today. I’ve never looked at horses the same way again.

The things I have experienced with Minka over the years has shown me how deeply horses feel emotions, and how caring they can be of others. She opened my eyes to the depth of a horse’s heart and how sensitive and loving they really are. Thankyou Minka.


Suzy Maloney B.Eq.Sc.Dip.Couns.

Happy Horses Bitless

Considerate Horsemanship

Lismore, NSW, Australia

Ph: 0401 249 263 


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