As horse owners, we ride the fine balance between horse care and saddle time. Everyone knows that we own and ride horses because that’s what we love, but non-horse owners don’t often realize how much work is involved in what we do. Most of us don’t mind the work – the smell of a clean barn, the bits of hay in all of our sweatshirts and shoes, or even the muddy boots that sometimes track dirt into our houses. Still, there comes a time for us all when the “work” can seem overwhelming, and the “play” becomes less frequent. This thought has crept into my mind during these rainy months here on the Central Coast, when it seems as though I’m doing more “horse care” than “horse play”. If you’ve ever been in my shoes, here are a few things to remember.
Why Did You Start Riding?
There was a reason we all got into this lifestyle. Some of us were born into it, some of us fell in love later in life, but what we have in common is the dedication and desire to do something that we truly love; something that makes us better people. I often think back on my first introduction to horses – which was in truth almost before I can really remember – and I think about my journey. I think about how many hours I spent working toward my dream of owning a horse, and now that dream has been realized.
It’s Not All About Saddle Time
We own horses to ride them, right? Well, yes, but we also own then because they enhance our lives in other ways. During the months or weeks when it’s too wet to ride, I remind myself that it’s not always about getting on my horse’s back, my love extends to the care, grooming, hand walking etc. I work and I play, and both of these things go hand in hand. So, when it’s a wet day, I still head out to the barn and give my horse a carrot, get her out of her stall and groom her, and sometimes walk her up and down the barn aisle. It’s that time together that really counts.
Horses Are Not Easy But They Are Cheaper Than Therapy
Okay, so maybe in some cases, a good therapist is cheaper than owning and caring for a horse, but you get my meaning here. For most of us living the horse life, we realize that when we’re out with our horses – whatever the capacity – we are having our minds and souls cleansed in a way. There are things that I say to my horse – both out loud and without words – that I don’t say to anyone else. My time out at the barn is healing. A lot of people have hobbies, but few of those hobbies include the responsibility and dedication of horse ownership – just because it’s raining or we’re sick doesn’t mean we can leave the horse in the barn like a bicycle or motorcycle – and it is these things that make what we do special. These are the things that make living the horse life therapeutic.
Remember That You Get What You Give
As with any sport or hobby, you always “get what you give”. If you put in the time and effort, you will usually reap the benefits and successes, if you don’t, you’ll find yourself frustrated and not moving forward. This is even more true when it comes to horses. Living the horse life means that you are going to have times when you put in more than it seems like you’re getting in benefits, but in the end, it all comes together and evens out. During the “off season” or the “in climate months”, remember that all the time and effort you put in will pay off when it comes time to saddle up again and get back out there.
In the end, living the horse life is a combination of horse care and saddle time – you can’t have one without the other. So, put in the effort, work hard, and then when it comes time to play, enjoy yourself completely! Keep this in mind as you’re sloshing through the mud over the next month or so, and keep your mind focused on the sunshine to come.
Cover Photo: Sharon Jantzen taken at Vintage Cowboy Winery