7 times we (almost, very nearly) gave up horses

  • While 98% of the time our love and devotion to our horses and all things equestrian is unquestionable, there is undoubtedly a very small window when we have considered throwing in the towel.

    These little wobbles have us doubting our current life choices — is it normal that I have more pairs of yard socks and ‘comfortable’ riding pants than beautiful shoes and matching underwear? Would I be happier doing something a little less physically, mentally and emotionally draining? Knitting perhaps? Should I be worried that my colleagues think the ‘special guy’ I refer to at least 10 times a day is my boyfriend, and not actually my horse?

    Here are seven times we briefly thought about giving up horses:

    1. When the vet’s bill lands

    It’s HOW MUCH!? At that price I hope this treatment also prevents stable stains, stops unannounced bucking and comes with three guaranteed red rosettes. Keeping a horse is pricey, especially if he or she is partial to a visit from the vet. Sometimes you find yourself mentally comparing the cost of a particular bill with the price of a week all-inclusive in Barbados, pondering why you’re not on that plane…

    2. Any time during British winter

    Let’s face it we don’t live in Britain for Christmases on the beach and all-year round tans. Pretty much from September through until April horse owners will be donning thermals and heavy waterproofs. When you’re trying to fit in a schooling session before it gets dark with hail and rain thrashing in your face from every angle, you might question if there is perhaps more to life…

    3. Occasionally during British summer

    Sometimes we’d just rather be sat in a pub garden drinking Pimms or relaxing on a sun lounger rather than poo picking a two-acre field in the baking heat.

    4. When you have a really, really bad lesson

    Those sessions where your trainer gets a sore throat from shouting at you. Everything and anything is going wrong — from the sitting trot to the grid work. Your 20 metre circles are more like 30 metre ovals and your horse seems to have forgotten how to do a basic leg yield. Your heels are up, your reins are slack and poles are falling all around. In summary, you’re both just totally not with it today, and it can be seriously frustrating. Also, why do these lessons tend to happen the day before a big competition?

    5. When you have a fall

    While we like to think that dismounting will always be on our own terms, there is the odd time when you will part company with the saddle a little earlier than expected. No matter how big or small a fall, it can still leave you with a bruised body and ego. When you suffer a knock to your confidence it can be easy to fancy changing hobbies ASAP, ideally to something which does not involve a 600kg animal with an attitude.

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    6. When everything needs replacing at the same time

    Why does your top of the range feed balancer and high shine shampoo run out at the same time as your noseband becomes unstitched and your horse needs a new set of shoes? You’ve considered setting up a Go Fund me page and you wonder if you can get housing benefits, which can be used on stables. There must be a cheaper hobby out there?

    7. When your yard friend moves

    You’re super happy for her that she’s found her dream career and is moving to Australia, but you’re also selfishly sad that she’s leaving you. Leisurely catch-ups while out hacking, the free rein to borrow her immaculate collection of brushes and that helping hand to get your horse in when you work late. You wonder if you too should sell up and move to the other side of the world…

    For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday.

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