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.