We spend a lot of time here waxing poetic about the numerous and varied ways horses enrich our lives, empty our bank accounts, and make the world a better place.
But as Bret Michaels once told us, “Every rose has its thorn.” And in this case, it’s not just the prick of financial pain.
While it’s true that just being around horses offers countless benefits to our mental and physical wellbeing, there’s a cost to both that comes with it as well. After all, it’s not often that your “equipment” can actually kill you.
Sore thighs: The silent (ego) killer
If you’ve sat on a horse for any length of time, you’ve experienced firsthand the distinct pain that is cramping inner thigh muscles. Even after decades of riding, I’m still not sure what’s the worst part. Is it having to waddle around the house, stepping sideways down the stairs and gingerly lowering myself oh-so-slowly down onto the toilet? Or is it how my self-confidence deflates after, because I definitely thought I was in better shape than that? Honestly, it’s probably the pee thing.
Tan lines can be a real tragedy
Sunburns are bad for your health, I think that’s kind of given at this point. But what about that most horrifying of horse side effects: the dreaded farmer/gloves/breeches tan?
There’s no quicker way to identify a horse girl than a pair of tan forearms paired with scarily pale hands, shoulders and legs. If you were trying to keep your horse lifestyle hidden away from coworkers, family and friends, it’s going to be tough to explain this one. Combined with the light scent of fly spray and a coating of horse hair, you might as well be wearing a scarlet “H” on your jacket.
You may lose family and friends
It’s not that non-horse people don’t have interesting lives, it’s just that they can never really understand the elusive joy of nailing a lead change, moving up a competition level, or finally loading a difficult horse alone, with nary a lunge whip, bucket of treats, or four madly clucking people in sight.
When you’re horse crazy and always at the barn (or thinking about when you can get back to the barn), it can make it difficult to bond with anyone who isn’t.
You can get your heart broken
While not exactly deadly, heartbreak can be just as terrible as any of the other risk factors on this list. Horses are amazing creatures. (I know, preaching to the choir here). But they’re experts at getting sick, injured and breaking expensive things—often at the same time and usually the day before the biggest event of your season. So, if you’re looking for an emotionally crippling relationship, horses are an excellent option.
You can get your *insert body part of choice* broken
Let’s not ignore the actual breaking of body parts either. We all know someone (or are that someone) who has broken their arms, legs, backs, pelves (that’s the plural form of pelvis if you’re wondering), hands and faces.
Heck, it would be easier to count the number of people who haven’t broken toe from being stepped on than those who have—it’s practically a badge of honor. Horses are a threat to more than our hearts and relationships, they can be brutal to our bones, tendons and cartilage as well.
And there you have it. Loving horses is dangerous work. But then so is loving horse people.