Taking care of my own horses on my own farm has been my dream for as long as I can remember.
Even then, after years of taking care of everyone else’s horses both on the racetrack and in show barns, there isn’t much that can really prepare you for what happens when you bring your own horses home. It’s your routine, your rules, and your particular standards that all of a sudden make their way out of the woodwork.
If this sounds like your ideal lifestyle, read on! I’ve learned a few things these past months of horse “homership” that you might want to prepare for:
1. Your horse-care style will become a strange hybrid of all the horsey jobs you’ve had in the past.
There’s pieces of my routine that I’ve taken straight off the backstretch, others that have stuck with me since my very first job mucking stalls in exchange for lessons. It’s at this point in your life you really realize the value of all the hard work you’ve done over the years, and the number of poop-filled water buckets you’ve cleaned!
2. Murphy’s Law applies: If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.
That 30-year-old well pump you thought you could get away with waiting on replacing? Nah…no chance. Once you start watering thirsty pony mouths, that thing is going to have its swan song and blow up on you in the middle of a miserable, rainy day. (True story!)
3. The shower is no longer your place of catharsis.
There is no better place to solve the problems of the world than in a dirty stall, sifting turd nuggets out of shavings. #stallcleaningthoughts is a way more entertaining hashtag than #showerthoughts, let’s be honest.
4. If you weren’t a paranoid horse parent before, expect to become one now.
Are they dying?! Have they killed each other?! Have the coyotes grown thumbs and found a way to sneak into the barns and eat the horses for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner?! Did I turn the water off?! Your brain will all of a sudden become an expert at imagining the worst-case scenario.
5. Your horses will not go without, but you might have to eat mac ‘n’ cheese multiple times a week.
My horses get the best quality hay and grain, and now my wallet is too empty to have real food. Whoops.
6. It’s no longer Netflix and Chill—It’s Netflix and Nap.
Sleep is a priority. Naps are your best friend. Remember when you could marathon an entire season of Stranger Things in one night? Not now! You’re going to pass out by 10pm—at the latest. You’ll embrace your inner old lady, and it’s totally awesome.
7. Speaking of sleep…sleeping in now has a whole new definition.
Staying in bed until 8am is now going to be considered “sleeping in” for you. And even if you allow yourself to do it, you’ll wake up in a panic that your horses are starving and about to kick the barn down. (Pro tip: they aren’t, I promise you).
8. You will learn to hate winter, no matter how much you loved it before.
Not only does it get dark at 4pm (at least here in Canada), but it’s cold and nothing is fun when frozen. Become friends with a space heater for thawing icy hoses and hands, and recall the wise words of your mother: wear lots of layers and bring an extra pair of gloves.
9. If you find a friend or family member who is willing to help out, BE THANKFUL!
Having someone you trust to be able to help you out when you’re sick, need to go away for work, or take a well-deserved vacation is an absolute godsend. A little “thank you” goes a long way. Sometimes, that’s a coffee or lunch/dinner. Other times, a little note and some homemade cookies will do the trick! And if you’re my friend/family, you’ll get a bottle of wine is for pitching in! (Want to be friends?)
10. Despite the challenges, having your horses at home is an incredibly satisfying experience.
The lifestyle of keeping your horses at home isn’t for everyone, but for those of us who have aspirations of being greeted by a good morning nicker first thing, or looking out the office or kitchen window and seeing horses munching their hay, there is nothing better.
About the Author
Mallory is a complete and total Star Wars nerd and adult amateur dressage rider from small-town Ontario, Canada who lives on her own small 50-acre farm with two horses, three dogs, a cat, and an axolotl. She is not only guilty of naming her show horse after a Star Wars character, but is also covered in Star Wars tattoos and is known to go to conventions dressed as either a Jedi or a Sith, complete with replica lightsaber. She believes Han shot first.