Why Horses Matter by Sean Eckstein - Winning Essay

 Age 12, 6th Grade, Corte Madera School


At the top of the hill, I eat my hotdog in silence. As I chew, I gaze at the deer who are grazing in sync with me and my horse. Minutes before, I had been walking around Roberts Market searching for a snack, while my mom waited outside with the horses. Now, perched on my horse Korbel, I look around at the hills I love so much. Various shades of purple, yellow and orange wildflowers dance on the green backdrop. A blue heron soars to the clouds, lifting my spirits with it. Gophers hiding in the shadows dig furiously. Up on this hill I’m King of Portola Valley. Who knew that I could have more fun than my mom on Mothers Day?!


I often think about long ago, when Portola Valley first came to be. I imagine it was country land with lots of ranches. There where no cars and the neighbors all knew and helped each other. Horses were a big part of everyday life. Nowadays, horses make you feel like you’re back in the old days. Let me tell you why. Horses do what a lot of people don’t. They start up conversations between strangers, which helps create a sense of community because more people know each other. Horses also make children of all ages smile. Even if people pass by in a car, they can’t help but wave when they see a horse, and if someone is having a bad day, horses cheer them up.


Portola Valley and Woodside are two of the only towns I know where you can walk outside your house onto horse trails. We are so fortunate to have those trails, not just for riding but for hiking too. You never have to trailer your horse to ride, but in the unlikely event that you do go somewhere, you get a crowd around your trailer with people you don’t even know, all interested in meeting the horses. It’s another example of how horses bring people together. By the way, if you ever need a lawn mower it’s horses to the rescue!


Again I’m eating, but this time it’s a delicious sandwich that someone handed me at the pitstop outside Buck’s Restaurant in Woodside. It’s the annual Day of the Horse and as lots of other horses go by, I am counting the seconds before Korbel starts jigging. I filled up on candy that kind sponsors have been giving away. Everyone is dressed up for the theme, Mardi Gras. The sun is reflecting off tons of sequins and many horses and riders are wearing colorful outfits. My horse wears his Day-Glo orange fly mask like a boss and I’m sure all the other horses are jealous. It may be Day of the Horse but I think I’m having more fun than my horse!


Everywhere I look, people are talking, smiling and laughing, and it’s all because of horses. Come see for yourself, what a difference a horse makes.


One last thing, if you ever see a kid riding a big old bay Arabian, stop and say hi, because it just might be me! 

Honorable Mentions


Sophia McDevitt



Emma Erickson



Ritwik Kesavath



Mackenzie Morehead