Poor Gretel…Gen is such a nudge!
Logically, loving horses is stupid. So why do it? Because we are horse people and we cannot have it any other way. While I am doubting that I will ever have another horse after Gen, that will be because I will not allow myself to think with my heart. My heart already has a cute half Appaloosa half Friesian picked out. I am not a romantic, but everyone knows that love has a lot to do with how you feel and not about what is logical. And I love horses.
Nothing in this world can make me feel more at peace than walking in to a barn early in the morning in the winter, when it is still dark out, and seeing the horse’s breath against the blackness of the new day as they nicker good morning. That is my own version of heaven and will make my heart soar with pure joy every time.
There is no feeling in this world like galloping bareback on a horse through the fields. Nothing. I don’t care that I do not have wings, in that moment I am flying.
Relaxation is going on a trail ride through the woods with a horse who is happy to be there. The trust that comes with holding the buckle and knowing that your horse is happy to be out and about is not like anything else in the world. To be sitting on the back of a horse with the sun in your face is something that is so peaceful you cannot help but be content straight down to your core.
I don’t feel like I am really myself unless I around horses.
Even my worst horsey day makes me feel more whole than a great day with no time at the barn.
Sure Gen is expensive, and he isn’t even a “real horse”, but rather my very expensive lawn ornament…for someone else’s lawn. That doesn’t make him anything less than the picture of perfection to me. One commenter, likely new to my blog, asked if maybe I would be happier if I gave him to a nice family to love. There is nothing that could be further from what would actually make me happy. I look forward to seeing Gen every day, even when it is -5 outside.
I know Gen and I have a special bond. Gen is my horse of a life time, my soul pony. I only feel whole when I am near him because he really is a part of me.
I love my horse. Like really love my horse.
Horses are amazing. They have no reason to trust us, we so often do nothing but cause horses harm, and yet they come to us hearts open over and over again. They are pure of heart, kind and loving creatures who cannot help but find their way in to your hearts.
Even if I never ride again or own another horse, I will always be a horse a person. I will always look at a horse grazing in the field when I am driving by and smile. I will always smile when I see my black work pants covered in gray horse hair. I will always want to watch some cheesy hallmark movie about a girl and her horse. I know that loving horses is crazy to the outside world, but I think the outside world is crazy for not loving horses.
Horses are like toddlers. No really, they are. They are always in need of attention, constantly getting themselves in trouble and you must put their needs ahead of yours. Horses also have a knack for breaking hearts, I know mine has been broken plenty of times. It is just hard having horses. With a cat you can just up and leave for the night. With a horse in your back yard if you want to go away for the night you need to hire a pet sitter and have them come 3-4 times in a 24 hour period. Horses are just difficult animals, or as one commenter said, they are not difficult in the wild, but we have made them difficult by how we have domesticated them. Regardless of they why, they are creatures with a lot of needs.
Horses needs come before your needs, at least they do if you are a responsible horse owner. I board my horse so I do not have anywhere near the obligations of a person who has horses in their backyard, but I still have obligations. Gen being a needier horse than most, I know that I have to make time to visit him. I started off 2015 with the flu…and it was terrible. I was a miserable and contagious mess for about 10 days. I had waited a few days to go to the doctor and by the time I went I was pretty sick. He ordered me to be home and in bed for 5 days and to wait to spend time in the cold for 10. Clearly that doctor has never owned a horse! I did miss the barn for 2 days, but by day number 3 I knew I had to check on Gen or suffer the potential consequences from him not feeling loved, so I sucked it up and went to the barn. Was that a good medical choice? Absolutely not. But it was what it was because I am a horse owner. When you care for your own horses it is even worse, you don’t even get 2 days to rest without it being an issue.
Horses also have a knack for getting themselves in to trouble. I can honestly not think of another animal that has such a habit of getting hurt or getting themselves in to a situation that they cannot get out of. If there is something amiss in the field a horse will go over and investigate…without thinking of any consequences. The day that Gen hurt himself there were people at the barn and they watched him running and carrying on, take the step that hurt his tendon, stop, look down at his leg, hold it up and look at them for help. There was no thought in my horses mind as he was running around that he would get hurt and the second that he did it he was, “crap…humans help me”. I feel like that phrase has been thought by my pony time and time again. He creates the problem, I need to fix it.
And can we talk about what heartbreakers horses are?? I have had Gen since late 2005…and he has been retired since early 2008! I have had him longer retired than he was my show pony! When you get a horse (Gen was my first) you cannot help but dream of all the amazing things you will do with them one day and then bam…career ending injury. Dreams crushed. So I went on to lease other horses, and each horse has come with its own set of heartbreak. I honestly cannot think of a single horse/rider pair where there was not some major issue either in training or injury wise. There are always setbacks in rider. Always.
So why do we pour countless hours and thousands of dollars in to something that will break our hearts in the end?
The simple answer? Because we love them.
Lucky for me Gen loves the cold so while other horse owners may have been fretting today, I looked at the minus 5 degrees this morning and knew Gen would be a happy boy. The barn itself however is not coping so well with the cold…
The barn was made many, many years ago with lots of the construction being…interesting. For the first time EVER the ground is so frozen that the concrete has come up in Gen’s door to the point where we can’t close it!
Luckily Gen is a very good boy and can live with a stall guard if needed. I think it is all those years of the track. I just had to laugh when I tried to close it and I had a nose to go :P it should be up in the 30s tomorrow so this is a very temporary problem. Just had to share my handsome boy behind bars ;)
Thought you might like a pretty sunset as well
Horses are expensive. Like way more than the average pet expensive. I have two cats and they cost me about $75 a month total with the cost of high end food, toys and litter. Just getting Gen’s toes trimmed and his supplement costs well over that price…and that isn’t counting the cost of board, medical care, equipment and all of the other things that go along with being a horse owner. I know that I live in a very expensive part of the country. For example, my aunt and uncle are horse people in Arizona and they were lamenting the cost of board…which was $450 and was at a place with individualized care and has shows on property several times a year. That is way less than what I pay to board Gen at the backyard farm he is at in my area. Knowing that my view on the cost of horses is different than people who live elsewhere, I don’t think anyone out there would say that owning horses is cheap.
I have done blog posts in the past about all the fun stuff I could have or do if I did not have horses, such as for the same price I pay for board I could take a week-long trip to Hawaii…twice a year. All kidding aside though being a horse owner has had a major impact on my financial life…and it is not always for the better. I am sure I am not the only horse person out there who lives on less, way less, just to be able to afford a horse. Why do we do this to ourselves? How can we justify owning horses when they cost so much?? We essentially take hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a month and just pour it down the drain. When you put thousands of dollars a year towards your house you are building equity, when you put thousands of dollars a year towards your horse…you just putting thousands of dollars a year towards your horse.
Horseback riding is consistently listed as one of the five most expensive hobbies in the world. It is often right behind sailing. It is a hobby for the rich…that most of just skrimp and save to try and be able to afford. How did horses go from being something that many people had to being a hobby of the super-rich? And why do those of us who are not super rich try and own horses?
When I look around the parking lot at a tack store I see beat-up cars that are usually on the older side. I bet every person in that parking lot could afford to drive a luxury car if they didn’t have a horse habit. When I look around at my horse-free peers it is hard not to be envious of the fact that when they go out to eat they can get a drink with dinner, or get their nails done every week. I work hard, really hard, and I have to be careful about every single purchase I make. When my phone went swimming in the Atlantic this summer I had to just live with not getting voicemails and missing text messages using a phone that was several years old because I couldn’t afford a different one.
Owning horses is not a logical financial decision. Not only do they cost lots of money, they take up lots of time which means we have to control our work hours (or not get a second job). If I put the 20-30 hours a week I used to spend riding in to a second job I would be increasing my financial well-being instead of tossing money in to a bottomless pit. Already since I have stopped leasing I have found my life to be easier financially. I had to buy three new appliances last year…and I was able to pay cash for all of them even if some took a bit to save up for. Mind you, my three new appliances don’t even come close to the cost of leasing and competing a horse.
So do I seem a bit…bitter…at my financial choices in life?? Well the other day I was messing around online and found something called a mortgage calculator where you can put in a bunch of variable to see how long it would take you to pay off your mortgage. With horses I have 24 years to go. Without leasing and having Gen I shave 4 years off how long it will take me to pay off my home! 4 years! If I do not lease another horse and put that money instead towards my mortgage that means I only have 20 years to. The really scary part? Without any horses (I feel even guilty typing this because I love Gen) but just for arguments sake if I took what I paid for Gen and put it towards my mortgage I would pay off my mortgage 18 YEARS SOONER. I could have everything paid off in 6 years if I did not have a horse. So from now on when people ask me what a horse costs (because they are always curious) I am simply going to say 18 years.
Part 3: Horses are draining…and I am not talking about water…
Part 1 of why horses suck:
There is an old saying that “God must have been joking when he designed horses”. Horses are just not designed well, they have tons of bulk and weight supported by tiny little legs. I mean, a horses legs are thinner than a humans…but they have a lot more weight riding on them. Even counting the fact that they have 4 legs versus our 2 that is still a lot to support on something so thin. Horses are basically designed to have leg issues…and that isn’t even taking in to account that those skinny, spindly legs are resting on top of a soft, growing, and ever delicate hooves.
This might not spell disaster if horses were docile, calm creatures, but the brain of a horse is wired to panic at a moment’s notice. Their brains are not designed to calm and rational decisions. Horses are designed to run at full speed and jump over/through anything that stands in there way when they feel that their lives are in danger. Running and jumping on those delicate legs of theirs. We have all heard horror stories of a horse getting a catastrophic injury after spooking and getting loose. I mean, what kind of a creature is so afraid for their life they end up causing an injury that will take their life???
Then there is their stupid digestive system. What kind of animal can’t throw up??? And if they are not going to throw up, why on earth are they not heartier?? Horses have a very delicate digestive system…and it only works one way. It is dumb of us humans to fall in love with a creature that can kill itself by eating a rock. Where temperature changes can cause a belly ache which can lead to death. I feel like every injury in a horse can lead to death. Get a tummy ache? Potentially deadly. Fracture a bone? Potentially deadly. Cut their leg? Potentially deadly. Eat too much food? Potentially deadly. Everything can kill horse. I am starting to wonder if we look too hard at a horse that it can be potentially deadly as well.
Can I just take a moment to talk about Laminitis? What kind of a creature cannot survive when one leg is hurt??? I mean, a horse can have an injury that is not life threating, but if they cannot put weight on that leg it can become life threatening. So you want to put a horse with a leg injury in a sling to prevent this from happening?? Enough pressure on their internal organs from being in a sling can kill them also. So they can’t live with 3 legs, they can’t live in a sling, and if we try and keep them alive when they cannot put weight on a leg for an extended period of time they will just get a bone pushing out from the bottom of their foot.
Let us also take a moment to talk about the face of a horse and the fact that if they do not get routine dental care they can starve to death. The number one reason horses die in the wild is issues with their teeth, either not being able to get enough nutrients in or from a tooth infection. This giant creature can have life ending consequences from a tooth ache! Oh, and the eyes of a horse…let’s talk about those for a second. The number of horses I know who have sight issues is staggering, many of which had issues that occurred because they bumped their eye! One bump of the eye without rapid treatment is enough to impact a horse’s vision forever. Knowing that horses are curious and not the brightest stars in the sky and they spook easily in some cases that impacted vision (your guessed it) is enough to lead to a fatal injury. We just cannot win as people who love horses.
I mean, look at Gen. I love my horse. Love him, but he has so many physical ailments. Gen has his leg issues (you know, from when his body started attacking his own tendon because it was injured instead of healing it) which of course could potentially kill him. He has melanoma, these tumors which are growing all over and if they grow in the wrong spot or get to big, it could potentially kill him. He has lots of scar tissue in his epiglottis making it hard for him to swallow and have things go down the correct pipe, which could also potentially kills him. And that is just my horse…and only the things I know about. Horses are so delicate and so fragile. I have no idea how they have survived 55 million years. And what genius took a look at what is essentially a potato on toothpicks and decided to ride it? That person was an idiot.
Look for part 2 of why horses suck…because my wallet says so.
So this past weekend I uttered a phrase that I never, ever thought I would say. The words, “I just don’t want another horse after Gen” actually came out of my mouth. I still can’t believe I said that…and the worst part is…I actually meant it as I said it. Gen is doing great these days. He is my Polar Bear and he is a very, very happy camper this time of year. In fact, there was one day I went to the barn to groom him and he was practically smiling just from being outside in the cold. I ended up not grooming him that day because I didn’t want to burst his joy bubble! It makes my heart soar when Gen is happy. Even with Gen being so great I am starting to think that horses are just trouble. Over the next few days I am going to ask you to pardon the negativity while I explore my new found Debbie Downer side. Getting it out is making me write, so that is at least one positive thing to come out of my several day rant…right?