As a long-time horse owner and a former competitor in several equine disciplines, I never thought I would find myself in the position I’m in today—with four “pasture pets.” But that’s exactly where I am.
With two retired horses, an injured “teenager,” and a younger, healthy horse, I find myself riding far less than I once did.
Of course, my current situation was a few years in the making and, perhaps not surprisingly, it began after the birth of my first child nine years ago. All throughout that first pregnancy, I was determined to get right back in the saddle after my son was born. I had an inkling that things would be different, but I really thought I could figure out a way to do it all: be super-mom, have a career, and continue to pursue my barrel racing dreams.
And I certainly tried my best.
But events occurred that were out of my control. Just weeks after starting to ride again, my barrel racing horse, Hershey, became mysteriously injured (or perhaps just began to show the wear and tear that had long been placed on his body). After spending large sums of money and time to fix him (which proved unsuccessful), I finally decided to buy another horse.
Unfortunately, this new horse experienced one health problem after another, and sadly, passed away just five years after coming to live at my house. I also never connected with him in the same way that I’d connected with Hershey.
All throughout this time, I found my desire to ride and compete slowly dwindling away.
At first, this was quite troublesome to me. A huge part of my identity had been wrapped up riding and barrel racing for so long that I didn’t understand this new person I was becoming. Now working as a freelance writer and blogger, I continued to write about horses, but I felt guilty about not riding them. And for not spending the amount of time with them that I once had.
It took several years for me to make peace with the fact that I was no longer the horse person I’d once been. I was under the impression, as many people probably are, that in order to justify having horses, they needed to do something. Earn their keep in some manner. And I can understand this notion—after all, horses aren’t the cheapest animals to care for.
But what I eventually came to realize is that I no longer needed my horses to fulfill some purpose for me. I could simply love them for the beautiful, wondrous creatures that they were. I also realized I didn’t have to compete or necessarily even ride in order to be a horsewoman.
For me, it’s more about the connection I have with my horses now.
I’ve learned to bond with my them in ways I’d never considered before. For example, learning to trim my horses’ feet has become a fun and rewarding experience. So has just watching them in the pasture as they graze or socialize together. And if I feel like it, I’ll hop on bareback or even saddle up occasionally. I just don’t put pressure on myself to ride these days.
Horses have always been in my blood, so to speak. I can’t see that ever changing. But I’ve experienced a new kind of freedom by giving up my expectations when it comes to my horses. They don’t have to do anything for me, other than just be my companions. My friends. My pasture pets. And that’s exactly what they are.
About the Author
Casie Bazay is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as an owner/barefoot trimmer and certified equine acupressure practitioner. She hosts the blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse, where she regularly shares information on barefoot, equine nutrition, and holistic horse health. Once an avid barrel racer, Casie now enjoys just giving back to the horses who have given her so much.