I don't regret taking a break (twice)
I have taken two breaks from horses and don't regret either one. I grew up with horses and showing. But after years of struggling to afford my horses by working off board, I needed a break financially, emotionally, and physically. After 15+ years of owning horses, I sold off my last horse just before getting married.
Just before getting married DH suggested we get a Labrador. And thus began my journey into competing with dogs: obedience, agility, conformation, hunt tests, rally obedience, etc. Competing with my dogs gave me a similar experience to working with horses (but obviously not the same nor in any way a replacement for) but at an easier cost and effort to maintain. I have a bond with my dogs different in many ways than what I ever had with my horses, perhaps in large part due to the fact they live with me whereas my horses were always boarded out. I ADORE my dogs and love having them in my life. I especially enjoy training and competing with them in the performance events. Through the training process we really develop a bond and rapport.
For about 10 years I left the horse world completely, no responsibilities of ownership, no lessons, etc. and really didn't miss it all that much. Then, I started getting the urge to ride again. So, I found a dressage/event trainer with school horses who advertised on Craig's List and started taking lessons again in the middle of winter (not exactly the smartest thing in MI!) and realized I NEEDED to be riding. Up until then, I didn't have that need and got by just fine without horses in my life. Trainer and I were a GREAT match and I really got close with her.
My trainer had plenty of options of horses to ride so I wasn't in the market to purchase my own. I had been lessoning with her for 7 or 8 months when I decided to go to a dispersal sale for some Welsh ponies. At the urging of a friend with me at the auction and my trainer (via phone), I purchased a 6 year old unbroke pony mare! I had gone to the sale to try and get some brushes and odds and ends tack to use with my trainer's schoolies and left with an unbroken mare! To top it off, I had recently lost my job. DH was less than pleased with that! But, being as I then had plenty of time and enough skill (along with my trainer's assistance) to break out the pony, I embraced the opportunity to try something I had never done before.
I had the pony just over a year and she began making it clear that she preferred H/J over dressage/eventing and I am not a H/J rider. Additionally, I was getting closer to securing a job and my trainer was planning on relocating out of state. So the time came to sell pony. Busy with a new job and still pursuing competitions with my dogs, I went back to being horseless.
Fast forward two years and I now have a wonderful OTTB from JudyBigRedPony. I had been ~casually~ looking for an OTTB for about a year before my mare came to me. I knew I wanted to get back into horses but the timing hadn't been quite right nor had the right horse or right trainer been available. For the first time ever as a horse owner, I now have a job that allows me to afford my horse habit without having to bust butt working off board. Don't get me wrong, I still have to penny pinch elsewhere, but I am in a better position financially than I have ever been previously. I'll tell you--it feels really good knowing I can afford it and not have to fret about working off board or wonder where I'll get the money to pay my shoeing bill. That has been a HUGE weight lifted off me and has made this round of horse ownership feel far different than the other times I owned horses.
I'm not saying I regret my past horse ownership experiences at all. It's just now I'm able to relax and enjoy my horse in a way I never could before. Right now, I am simply enjoying the journey with my mare and taking my time. I have not put a deadline on our progress so I take each day as it comes and we will perhaps make it to a dressage schooling show or a local horse trial next summer. But, if that doesn't happen, that's a-ok too.
I guess what I'm saying in all this long-windedness is that only you know when the time is or isn't right to have horses in your life and to what degree they should be in your life. Sometimes owning your own is what's right and sometimes borrowing other people's is what's right. Sometimes, taking that break entirely is what you need at that time. I keep coming back to horses whereas many of my fellow dog-show friends left horses and never went back. My mom (not a horse person) always said I had horses in my blood and she knew I'd find a way to keep them in my life one way or another.