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Sunday, February 02 2014

Few things make you question your life choices as much as cold rain and mud. Juggling personalities as you make sure animals have adequate shelter and hay can often require an elaborate flow chart.

'This animal can bunk with that one, but not next to that one. These get along, but not at meal time. We used to have enough kennels, but then you rescued THAT one.'

Heaven forbid if a little Nyquil throws your flow chart off. Chaos ensues. I've done this long enough now to recognize the patterns. When the weather is bad, not only are we grumpy, the animals are grumpy too, thus juggling the personalities becomes even more of a chore.

So when I'm sliding through mud, and knocking frozen locks open, it's easy to ask myself why I keep them. Despite their trouble, the sheep, goats, and cattle actually earn money, and although it's tempting to cut back to just one species, I'm not big on putting all my eggs in one basket. Plus, running these species together confounds the parasites that prey on them. But what about the horses? Why are we keeping horses we rarely have time to ride?

They're large. They eat a lot. Sometimes they're dangerous to the smaller livestock. Much of their work is outsourced to Border Collies. We rarely have time to enjoy riding them. And yet, we feed them. We juggle their personalities. We enjoy their company over the fence.

And oddly enough, we buy more.

What is the magic of a horse? Since you can only ride one horse at a time, it stands to reason that you would only have one horse for each rear end in the family. Oh, sometimes we reason that we need extra horses in case someone else wants to ride with us, but in reality, we simply want the extra horse, or don't want to sell a horse we already have to buy another one that we want. What is this spell a horse casts over us?

I was the quintessential horse crazy little girl.  A horse was not merely my ticket to the stars, a horse was my star. Not to ride, just to breathe. Perhaps that is what separates those who want horses from those who need horses. Ride, ride, ride. A horse is not a glorified bicycle. It is not a toy. A horse is a magical being that takes us to Tirnanog - that mystical Celtic land of eternal youth, abundance, and joy.

I was a shy child, who withdrew to my world of books and animals. I spent much of life with my nose in a book, dreaming, or drawing horses. My interactions with real horses were few and far between, but I dreamed. Oh, how I dreamed. Life changed when we moved to an area with a boarding stable within bicycle distance. I lived at that barn, a willing slave who worked just to be around the horses. And because of this, my mother took a chance. A single mother with two children and more than enough responsibilities of her own, took a chance and bought a $750 horse - and changed my life forever.

For the first time I actually participated in life instead of reading about it. My world opened up. I developed friends at the barn, not friends my age, but friends who actually shared my passion for horses. Girls younger than me, ladies older than me, all these women were caught under the same spell - the magic of a horse. When other girls my age were experimenting with drugs and sex, I had the confidence to avoid those pitfalls because I had the responsibility of a horse. I learned the value of hard work at a thankless job because every burger served meant a bale of hay for my horse. That mare wasn't just my ticket to adventure on the trails, she was my ticket to life.

In hindsight, I realize the one gift of a horse was life changing. It was more important than my grades, what car I drove, or what college I attended. That horse wasn't a mere stepping stone in my life, she was the solid foundation that gave me the confidence to build a life. So much responisibility on the back of a little horse. . .

And so now, like countless other horsewomen with busy lives who keep horses they don't have time to ride, I say,

"It's not about riding the horse, it's about breathing the horse,"

and about the days, sometimes the rare days, when we take some time to throw a leg over the back of a horse and ride away to Tirnanog.

Life is just clearer from the back of a horse.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:38 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
AMEN sistah! I just came off 6 weeks of no riding due to hand surgery and finally got to ride again yesterday and it was wonderful! Like you that first horse was an expense my parents really couldn't afford but as my father has now said he figured it was cheaper than bail money...and you know what? It worked... :-)
Posted by Kim on 02/02/2014 - 11:38 AM
You as a little girl sounds a lot like the suburbs my own bike was the substitute for a horse....and a dog who stayed with us for short times was my "soul animal." Thanks for sharing.
Posted by clairesmum on 02/02/2014 - 03:54 PM
I truly understand everything you wrote. I have been a a horse person my entire life and can not picture my life without horses. I'm the only person in my house that rides and I have 8 and been looking at another one... I enjoy my riding but I also enjoy just being with them and the non horse people don't understand.. Its their loss.
Posted by Gaye Lawing on 02/02/2014 - 07:53 PM
Soul Sista ~ Yep.
Posted by Mindy on 02/07/2014 - 07:37 PM

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