Okay, I’ll admit, I am horse mad. Utterly, completely. I have altered my life to fit around my passion. They are the reason I wake up in the morning, and the reason my weekends are usually centered around horse shows rather than social events with friends. My mother credits horses with me turning out both normal (no drug, boy, or school problems) and “unique” (long story) at the same time. She encourages mothers to get their daughters into horses. And then my dad adds the caveat of the cost.
Forget the cost, my word of warning to potential horse owners, be you late in life enthusiasts or beleaguered parents, horses are more than just a trip to the barn on weekends. When you buy one, they are with you for life. It’s like a marriage, for better or worse. Of course, some people can buy and sell when the horse lives out its purpose, or find another home when the time comes, but not me. To me, the horse becomes a part of the family, and you simply do not sell a family member no matter how annoying they are at the holiday dinners. I don’t mean to say that I haven’t moved some horses through my life. To better homes when they had gone as far as I can take them, etc, but my first and oldest, she’s still with me. The one who came after, that no one else truly understood, still with me. My youngest, who isn’t so young anymore, well, I will never live down how she was supposed to be a training project. She still is. Eight years later. But at the same time, she is freakishly talented, and has developed into a near Prix St. Georges level dressage horse. This from a thoroughbred who once had severe ADHD, is saying something. I am so grateful for them all, but then there are the ones that you meet on the periphery. The friend’s horses. The lesson ponies. The horses you care for when others are away. It is a slippery slope, and leads more to a cliff than a hill.
And so, to add onto the previous warning, let me add one more. I run a barn/training facility when the instructor is out of town. This includes regular care as well as lessons, and yesterday, one of the greatest lesson ponies of all time decided to colic. I like her, I truly do, but spending fourteen hours in the sub 0 F weather was about more than affection. It was a responsibility to make sure she got through the night. It was a basic, deeply rooted concern that got me up at 2 in the morning to check on her and medicate her again, all the while giving her warm water and soaked hay from the bath tub in the house. This, fair readers, is what horse ownership is all about. It isn’t about what you would spend or do for your own horse. No, the true measure is what you would do for someone else’s. Would you care for them as if they were your own? Wait up long into the night even as the temperatures continued to plummet? If the answer is yes, then congratulations. I pronounce you ready to buy that horse. It means a lifetime of love, frustration, and responsibility, but from my own experiences, every second is worth it.