Whenever I tell people (that aren’t horse-y) that I have a horse, I usually always get the same response, and it’s usually a response filled with wonder and awe. If you didn’t hear me tell them that I “Just own a horse…” then you would probably think that I had said that I was a princess of a foreign country, or I made a million dollars overnight (I wish!) or that I own a unicorn that poops rainbow cookies.
Un-horsey people have fantasies about horse ownership—5-star barns, Olympic trainers, Grand Prix-level show jumpers…. “Oh, you must be rich to own horses,” (the opposite, thanks). He’s in this season’s Weatherbeeta and I’m in three-year-old jeans.
I don’t know…maybe I’ve become a bit jaded about horse ownership, but I’m never quite sure why I get that type of response. There must definitely be some rumor going around that owning and riding horses is glamorous—and I’m really sorry to have to do this and to disappoint all you people who think it’s true—but it’s not glamorous. At all.
In fact, it’s mostly mucking out paddocks, mixing up feeds, scrubbing out water troughs, hours of grooming (which is really only transferring dirt and hair from the horse to you), picking hay from places hay should never, ever be, and my favorite of all the things my horse does, constantly rejecting me once he realizes I’ve either got no food, or I’m not going to be bringing him any food. Which by the way doesn’t hurt any less no matter how many times it happens.
It’s sore cheekbones from being head-butted, sprained ankles from being thrown, broken pinky toes from being stepped on, and bruised thighs from being kicked. It’s very early mornings and even later nights and starting work over just when you think you’ve finally finished.
It’s a roller coaster of emotions. The kind that you get on willingly, but then realize you can never get off. It’s highs when you teach them something new, or when you finally win that ribbon after all the hard work you’ve done. It’s lows when they get injured or when they get sick… and it’s extreme lows when you eventually get the vet bills.
But, don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. I wouldn’t change any of it, because even though it’s mostly chores and not as much riding as I’d like, and even though sometimes he makes me want to rip my hair out, I truly love it.
It’s rewarding and exhilarating. It’s getting a 1,000-pound animal to completely trust you and respect you. It’s him walking up to say hello when you get home before you’re even out of the car. It’s moments where you feel so in tune that you can ask him to do something without even using a single word. It’s the high you get after a ride where you finally felt connected, where you finally felt like you weren’t a human asking something from your horse, but where you were a human and a horse working in perfect harmony.
It’s a nicker when you get to the gate. A nuzzle into your shoulder after a long day. A mane to cry in when no one else will listen. It’s little moments and tiny gestures that mean nothing to anyone else, but mean everything to you. It’s memories to cherish and a soul to love forever.
That’s the reality of owning horses, and that’s what’s to be in awe of.