Bull-headed, sometimes pig-headed: these are names that you might call an obstinate tomboy of a daughter. It wasn’t meant to be a compliment. Did you ever hear those names around your house?

I prefer the term hard headed. In 1970, Cat Stevens (then) put out my personal teen angst album, and it had a song entitled Hard Headed Woman. It was the first time I had heard the phrase used in a positive way:

“I’m looking for a hard headed woman, One who will make me do my best, And if I find my hard headed woman- I know the rest of my life will be blessed– yes, yes, yes.”

Full speed ahead, no apologies. Did you get a good launch too?

Hard headed is a fitting name call for most horsewomen. If we aren’t hard headed, we’re working on it.

Most of us hard headed horsewomen come equipped with soft hearts, especially for creatures of most any species.

By the time our hair starts changing color (naturally, I mean) there is a full blown possession of the title. No more defensiveness, just plain speak of exactly what you want.

This week a hard headed client and friend, Val, moved to a warmer state. I had been working with her herd over the summer. It’s been a privilege. There are three draft horses and two donkeys- all of them rescues of one sort or another. Each one has a challenge; youth, age, or an infirmity of some sort. Each one has a special heart. Val belongs to them.

Val’s husband, Chuck, has gone ahead, with a carload of dogs and lizards, to meet them at the new barn. He might be a bit hard headed himself.

On moving day, the transport arrived on time. Val was packed and stacked. There was enough good help, and the drivers seemed competent. Loading went well; the big horses walked up the steep, narrow ramp first, massive and obedient, and then the reluctant donkeys followed, careful and trying to be brave. We took our time.

Val was going to ride in back with the animals, it was arranged ahead and everyone knew. I wasn’t surprised to see a driver try to talk her out of it- telling her how much more comfortable she would be in front. She smiled a very sweet and hard headed smile, and then climbed in with her chase lounge, sleeping bag and cooler for the 26 hour drive in the warmth of her herd.  She even remembered the parrot.

I smiled my hard headed smile, too. It was so cute when that big trucker asked her. Did he understand? He might think horsewomen are nuts. He might be right.

Travel safe Damien, Bonnie and Tuesday. Take special care Wyatt and Cuddy. I’ll miss you, but no worries. You have your very own hard headed woman.

What does it mean to be hard headed? I think it’s the courage to do what you think is right.

I looked up hard headed in the dictionary and got lots of synonyms: not easily moved or deceived, practical, shrewd, astute, pragmatic, and my personal favorite- mulish! Well, when you put it that way, it sounds like a compliment!

Some women are just born hard headed, but I think I know why. We are God’s gift to horses.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

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Comment by Anna Blake on September 29, 2012 at 7:57am

Really good point, Jackie. Our fore-mothers were a tough lot, we have a proud heritage.

Comment by Jackie Cochran on September 28, 2012 at 10:34am

We Americans (continent, not just the USA) are so fortunate, a lot of us are descended from hard headed frontier women.  We just come by it naturally, if they had not been TOUGH we would not be here.  (The men were pretty hard headed too, of course.)

And yes, we are God's gift to horses.  We will fight for them, try to understand them, and do all the hard work necessary for them to thrive.

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