Thursday, March 3, 2016

Just Did It

I took my own advice, and started riding my horse again; pats all round.
He's so soft and squishy and generally under-muscled that I almost shared the above photo publicly asking for 1 like = 1 prayer.

No seriously, I think that almost every 'recreational' horse rider has days or weeks or even months where they're just not that motivated, and maybe even wonder whether the horse scene is still worthwhile for them. Grazing/board is expensive, horse feed is expensive, lessons and entry fees are expensive, not to mention the vet bills... and horse insurance (in New Zealand anyway) has hundreds of clauses to get them out of coughing up in those scenarios. There's like two providers so they can afford to be crafty.

You can go to (almost) any grazing or barn situation anywhere and find people squabbling over their different viewpoints. Some people, like me, take it really personally if someone comments on what they are/are not doing with their horse. Whether they're riding enough, whether they're cruel for choosing to shoe their horse instead of going barefoot, whether their horse should have his rugs off during the day in winter, and why are they buying so much gear when they never go anywhere?! Let's not even get started on their choices in vet/dentist/farrier/trainer. The judgement is everywhere - not from every person, but there's always one person in every scenario who feels the need to condemn others' decisions.

Disclaimer, I am totally one of those people sometimes. You can bet if you're jumping your freshly broken 3 year old daily, going cross country and slamming them when they are stopping at everything because they're completely over-faced I'm going to be shooting hairy eyeballs in that direction. Horses kind of put everyone in a position where there are 200 ways of doing things, and being different to someone else usually generates a disproving look or comment here or there. Completely nothing to do with anyone else, but there you have it.

We all do it at varying levels.. Whether it's because of this:


Or this:

Some people are up in arms over horseshoes, and others need a bit more provocation. Either way, it generally happens more than once at every barn.

Finally throw the temperamental weather, mystery lameness's, and both time and emotional investments into the mix and you get a bottomless pit to throw money, time and emotions into - all in the name of a horse. Good job they get you hooked in the land of no escape, right?

Because really, despite all the trials that come with owning a horse, they are like no other animal on earth and are totally worth all of the bad days and more.

The package deal of horse ownership, as I've said, is something that comes with many difficulties but the valleys are proportionate to the mountains, so to speak. All of the good stuff that comes with horses is what makes the sport/hobby worthwhile. It's different for everyone, but being able to successfully communicate with a living being to such a degree that it will go above and beyond what is natural with you is a pretty incredible feeling.

If, like me you're into scenery, framing a landscape between two (black-tipped because bay horses are my jam, my peanut butter, and my jelly) makes it doubly spectacular. If you want to beat average and get 10's on dressage tests, push limits by nailing your jump-offs and get your adrenaline pumping on a meaty cross country track then you can do that with an animal that is absolutely your partner, not just your pet. You have their back, and they have yours. They say that a dog is a man's best friend, but that would make the horse so much more. A teacher, a student, a companion, a protector, a team-mate, a mirror and I could go on.

If you find other horse people whose souls groove with yours then that is a lifelong friendship in the bag because even when Natural-Nigel starts hitting you with the old bitless bridle debate, your soul sista will be right there with you to cringe at how that sofachair treeless saddle looks on his horse. And those kinds of friendships are damn cool. Plus, horse people will never judge you. No matter how many holes are in your jodhpurs or dishes are stacked up by the dishwasher. They just get it that housework is the thief of riding time, and the new matchy Le Mieux set is always going to win over jodhpurs that are in one piece. The competition literally doesn't exist.

So, as generally happens with humans, I got a little preoccupied with all of the struggles of horse-ownership for a short while there. But, I took my concrete pill and went riding. And lo and behold, I discovered that when I stopped making excuses, I stopped dwelling on the not so great stuff and started enjoying all of the really awesome stuff instead. It was such a simple fix - who knew that Nike had it all sussed out with their "Just do it"?! I'll add that to the life tricks bank.

The icing on the cake for me is when I finally gave Oscar a bath and pulled his mane. It had been some time and once the aesthetics were sorted out I felt much better about getting back into riding!