Meet the MY JOB Narrators
Robin Little-Basil was raised on horses. She wanted to be a vet when she grew up, like many of the other little girls who grew up around the animals in the Kentucky country. She ended up with three jobs: health inspector, horse breeder, and drill-team coach. “My true passion is these horses. This is really what drives me. I’m the president of the Mountain Pleasure Horse Association this year,” she says.
Robin is a fourth generation Mountain Pleasant Horse breeder. These horses are the oldest gaited breed in the United States. Robin honors the importance of the breed in Kentucky and the fact that her ancestors relied heavily on the horses for income, agriculture, and transportation. Now a rare and endangered breed, Robin works to make sure the it survives. She says, “we’re really trying to save them. Every colt that we bring about helps keep it from extinction.”
Excerpt from Chapter 9, in Robin’s Own Voice
“I don’t believe that I communicate with horses. I’m really good at matchmaking horses to riders, though. I’m not being braggy, but I’m probably one of the best people around, and it’s not that I know so much. I base it on the fact that I grew up with them and watched them a lot and adored them when I was little. I read human body language pretty well, but I read equine body language really well.
A friend of mine wrote a book several years ago, and she put me in the book. Before we were friends, she came looking for a horse. She thought she knew what she wanted, and she came here.
I told her, ‘Don’t think you know what you want, because you don’t know what you want until you’ve found it.’
I mean, you just don’t. You think you want a fourteen-two-hand palomino [about 58 inches tall from the foot to the top of the back] that’s this and that, but you’ve got to be attached to that horse. You’ve got to have an attachment. It’s almost like love at first sight.
Like if you came to me, and you were looking to buy a horse, I would say, ‘How do you like to ride?’ because horses are like people. They have very distinct personalities. You’ve got brave people; you’ve got brave horses. You’ve got timid people; you’ve got timid horses.
Do you like to ride in the front, or the back? Horses are the same way. You’ve got some that want to lead, and they’re happy, and you’ve got others that are happier in the back [of the pack]. Some like to be by themselves; some like being with a group. It’s the same thing.
You have to figure out which horse likes to ride the same way you like to ride, because that’s where you’re going to be happy. You need an animal that enjoys the same thing you do. If you don’t, you’re always going to have a conflict.
But the weird thing that happens is, horses will tell you whom they like and whom they don’t, and they’re very, very obvious about it most of the time. It’s their body language. My friend was like, ‘How do you know?’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know. I just know.’
But there’s got to be something that’s cueing me off. I can tell by looking.
So basically what we do is say, ‘Okay. Why don’t you walk around out in the field? Just walk around and look around,’ and the horse will actually tell me whom they like, which is really funny.
A lot of times, they’ll come walking up to people. People think all my horses are friendly, but some are very standoffish, and they’re the most obvious. If they come to people, that’s easy. I’m like, ‘He never willingly comes to anybody,’ and, all of a sudden, he’s in your pocket and behind you and wallering all over you, you know? And I’m like, ‘Okay, you might consider this horse.’ [Laughs.]
I’m just saying.”
Check out Robin’s chapter in MY JOB: Real People at Work Around the World, available both on Kindle and on paper. And, stay tuned to meet the next narrator, Matt, Google technologist, in Chapter 10 . . .
Photographs courtesy of Suzanne Skees.