I got you on this one. When I had to part with the horse because, well, life happened, I needed to make a total break. I had been competing at a serious level (and working to pay for it). It was pretty all-consuming and anything less seemed unthinkable.
There was a self-imposed exile while I got on with what needed to get done. I figured out there were many wonderful things in this world to enjoy and never regret that time away from horses. However, I would advise as others have said to keep your saddle, breeches, boots and helmet at the very least. I'm betting you will need them again in some capacity. When the initial hurt has passed and there is time & space between you and "what you have lost", you'll find your bliss again.
All I can give is my experience, for whatever it's worth to you. Best of luck with everything. Day by day it gets easier, and the world IS full of lovely things & experiences, of which horses are just one piece. Keep your heart open.
I think I understand. A few years ago, I was a successful photographer and freelance writer. I worked my own hours and spent my free time trail riding with friends. Then my husband got laid off and sick - we had no health insurance. I had to give up all of my animals ( minus one horse) and get a "real" job with health insurance. I also had to sell my truck and trailer. I have a degree in journalism but the job I found was in finance.
its a good job, but I put my camera down in 2006 and only recently picked it back up. I missed my old life desperately. I did not give up my horse - I worked to keep her at a boarding barn and i continue to ride a lot. What I miss is the freedom of my old life and resent the changes I was forced to make, however, I do enjoy my life now with new challenges. It is only twinges of regret that overtake me now.
I do understand. I was angry at the life changes I was forced to make and if I couldn't continue to be a photographer/writer, I was not going to do it at all. So not quite the same but I do understand and it gets better. It was more about accepting life changes and reinventing oneself - as happens often in life. I am happy now and have found ways to accept what life has thrown me and to be grateful for what I do have. You will get through this time. PM me if you want to talk.
When I parted with horses after my first year in college I made a clean break. I didn't have the time or the money to rightfully care for a horse. I sold him to a lovely woman who was half leasing him at the time. I used to compete in events, combined tests, schooling shows, and hunter paces throughout the year. I just couldn't support that anymore and I was getting burnt out trying to scrape together the resources to do so. I started riding other horses and had a few bad experiences then just called in quits since it was more stress than it was worth. I also was struggling with managing my back issues at the time.
I didn't ride for almost 3 years. Then I started getting the itch again but I cannot own a horse right now. I just can't afford it. I came to terms with that and figured even a weekly lesson will help me get back into it and that way I will have at least some contact with horses. I enjoyed the lessons but it wasn't the same as owning my own. It still isn't but luckily I got in contact with a wonderful fellow COTH member who always has horses to ride and a similar outlook to mine on horse care. Gah, I wish I had a horse right now since I'd love to board one with someone who has a clue I ride mainly one particular horse but sometimes branch out to others. It's nice because I have a lot of access to said horse for the most part and we get along.
My main point is I have come to terms with that is my riding situation, it is what my time and money can afford right now. Down the road I WILL own a horse and get more into it, but for the time being I am riding, I am around horses, and I am taking lessons. Which, is better than no horses at all. That's how I see it and I've learn to be content with it since that's what life realistically allows right now. No, I don't have the freedom of my own horse, going to regular clinics, competitions. or wherever, but I have this. I have something.
If you feel like you need to make a clean break, just do it. Otherwise take what life allows you to have right now.
Me again. OP, you sound like a down-to-earth person. Apparently a lot has happened in the last year and you're still having trouble wrapping your head around it all. You're still trying to figure a lot of things out, and where horses "fit" into your current life is one of them. I'm glad you didn't sell your saddle! Hang on to it. Things like that you just don't get back.
If you can make the time to ride (especially for free!) I think you should do it. First of all, it's your horse time. It keeps your horse-person contacts in place, it keeps your body in shape, and it keeps your skills up. I lied a little bit in my previous post... the one thing I do regret about my time off from horses is how much my body forgot in the 7 years I took off from horses. My brain remembered, but my body just couldn't do it anymore. It made it that much harder to get back into it. Once I started riding again it was SO hard... I look at other people my age who had never quit riding and I never did catch back up (I've been a re-rider for over 10 years now). So if you have the opportunity & time, definitely ride!
It unfortunately happens, but you will get back into it, perhaps sooner than you think.
My parents divorced when i was a teenager, thus sparking the downward spiral that undid everything that my life was up until that point. within a couple of year, the board stopped being paid (unbeknownst to me) and I went out one day to find an empty stall; my heart horse had been sold and not a word had been said to me. I shoved everything into a corner in the garage and it sat for the remainder of high school, then moved during college to another garage, then a storage unit, back to a garage.
Then I picked up exercise riding OTTBs for a lady, fo' free, for a little while. I had to drive an hour there and so that eventually had to stop.
Fast forward a few years, finished school, did the marriage and baby thing, and it suddenly dawned on me that I could do it all again, on my own terms. So i started searching barns in my area; the one I'd grown up at had just had to close. Then a couple months later, brought a new horse to it. I'm not competing now but recently starting itching for it. I'd love to hunt again though.
It's absolutely heartbreaking but it's not something that ever leaves your blood, so you will get back to it. I had 8 years off, which seem vast to me but brief to so many others. I thought I was done, that I could never recover from it, but I did, and you will, too.
edit: definitely keep anything really expensive. I literally kept everything and it's all served me well for the most part. Even the blankets that didn't fit my new horse but were in superb shape; I sold them and bought new ones. My old half chaps don't fit and I got tall boots a couple years ago, so yeah i should really sell those.
I'm guessing that this isn't only about the horses, but that the change in your involvement with horses serves as a painful reminder of how much your life has changed due to some financial/physical/emotional trauma that has happened to you and your family. Right?
It sounds as if you'll need some time. For a few reasons. There's no right or wrong answer here. Do what's right for you.
You clearly love it, so I do hope for your sake you are able to retain a foothold in one form or another (polo ponies, lessons, anything). But only you know what you can handle right now. And that may change dramatically over time.
I'm glad you kept your saddle.
My advice is to do as much as you can and re-evaluate periodically. Keep up with your horsey friends and check what's out there. Don't get into a rut and think you can't get any rides.
Many people give up riding at this point in their lives. The cost and time commitment are obviously prohibitive when starting a career, maybe even a family. You can always come back to it.
I think a lot of folks would have loved some of the experiences you had and that's causing some reaction. I don't sense arrogance in your posts, as much as sadness.
Thanks guys. I promise not all of us hunter chicks are total princesses!!! For old time's sake, here's a photo of my last boy which I took when we managed champion, somehow, diving six hours from home- the trainer I was supposed to meet bailed on us, so I had to jump what was set up in the warmup ring the first day and thankfully had a lovely grand dame of years gone by take pity on me for the second. Shipped, prepped, schooled, and taken care of flying solo. Somehow just as meaningful than a couple weeks later when I managed to win the performance hunters at Raleigh. Handsome boy, huh? Wish I hadn't waited to body clip him, though, looking back!!! http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c3...ps29ee69a3.jpg
And ako, hit the nail on the head. I've never felt anything but supremely grateful for the opportunities I had. If I was ever guilty of pride, it was of my horse. Except maybe right then. I was kind of proud of myself for managing without some to set jumps. Anyways, it's why I spent many hours of my life in college training feed lot horses for free so that they'd be more useful in a stall than a dinner plate. I tried to give back in the best way I could. That kind of life I led was amazing, probably moreso than as a junior when I was being bankrolled, but the time came when I had to prioritize and look to the future. As a good (jetsetting bachelor) friend of mine instructed me, "don't grow up, it's a trap." -I do miss it dearly but am trying to take the path that I think is most likely to bring me back: being there for my baby sister, working on my education, working, and trying to see what else is out there in the world. The horses were definitely my sanctuary from a lot of crap that was going on and when that hit the fan, I lost what gave me a safe place from all of it at the same time.
I'm rambling. Anyways, I think I'm going to pony some polo ponies around next weekend and see if that's weird enough that it doesn't stir everything up. The patron's wife has a hunter, and I told her perhaps I can help her a little with her, so maybe I'll even get near a set of standards. Or maybe next weekend I'll be a rambling mess again. Worth trying though?
I think you are expressing legitamate grief for loosing a whole period of your life and it's OK to feel that way. I'm glad you didn't do anything too rash like sell your saddle. Give yourself time and permission to mourn.
I think you are expressing legitamate grief for loosing a whole period of your life and it's OK to feel that way. I'm glad you didn't do anything too rash like sell your saddle. Give yourself time and permission to mourn
Keep your saddle and bridle, helmet. You never know when an opportunity will present itself again for you to ride but I do know that replacing tack is expensive.
And, for God's sakes, try to reduce the melodrama! I wasn't able to ride at all during college or the first few years out of school. One day I realized that I really missed riding, and started taking lessons again once a week. A year or two later I saved enough money to buy a horse. Nothing is forever.
It's awful to have something you love ripped out of your life. There's nothing to do with grief but endure it. Allow yourself time to grieve. I'm sorry you are in so much pain but your reactions to this pain are healthy, strong and positive. Keep on the path you are on. Wait at least a year to make major decisions. Being positive through your pain will turn this into a learning, growing experience. Use it to make yourself stronger and find out who you really are. If you can, seek a higher power for comfort. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Learn, grow, change. You will be fine. Give yourself time. (((HUGS))).
I stopped riding for nearly 9 years when I was around your age. I never owned a horse, but rode for various people and was a working student for a very BNT.
Through that experience I realized that I would never be talented enough or dedicated enough to be the rider, not the ws/groom. I certainly did not have the money to be an AA! I went back home to regroup and get a "real job".
I could barely feed myself, much less support a horse. I tried a few times to "just take a lesson" or "just ride", but that didn't work for me - I would end up sad that I did not have that life any more, and would berate myself for being such a loser that I couldn't have a good enough job to afford a horse.
Then in my late 20's I saw a photo of a horse/rider in the newspaper, went out to the barn to take a lesson, and it all came together.
Hang in there, life without horses is certainly different, but you are being wise to get established.
I know it hurts for you to hear another view, from another perspective, but I found your OP hard to read too - not everyone who reads your post will feel for you. That's the risk you take posting on a public forum.
I've got a student friend in the same boat. She never rode at the A show level, but did some serious working student gigs and was exposed to some good stuff. Now she's putting herself through school and grad school, getting married soon. She decided about a year ago that she couldn't do the occasional ride on someone else's horse or lesson only thing, and has chosen to stay away from horses till she can do it the way she wants (which is noting fancy, just dedicating herself to one horse). She's started working with dogs instead and finds that pretty satisfying.
I've never understood her perspective and her choice, but I do respect her for doing what she needs to do. At least it is a thoughtful decision, and she is putting her future welfare as a priority, in getting her education finished first.
Do what's right for you, and just keep keepin' on. It'll work out.
"One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine
OP, I understand the part about missing the "having a goal" part of having horses in the way you used to.
I grew up sans dough. I didn't own a horse until I bought an OTTB while I was in college and rode probably 100 or so other people's horses before that-- the good, th bad, the ugly or whatever.
What the non-owning phrase of my riding life did for me was a lot.
I learned far more than I would have had I had one horse with one goal and one discipline.
Also, I learned how to cherish the daily goal I might set with a horse. Sometimes, that's about all their was. But it still felt good to have a horse end better than we had started.
I'm also in an "in between horses" phrase. I have my semi-retired beast on the opposite coast and paying his bills so I can't/won't buy another one for here. I'm very grateful to the HOs who let me ride horses I'm not paying for because I know what it costs. Probably like you, I know enough to improve a horse. That means I can always find some horse to ride. Again, I have gratitude there for all the experience in my life that led up to this.
The "just hack him" assignment isn't that fun, but I can find a way. If the horse needs to be legged up, I do the best job of that. If he's one-sided, I spend my ride trying to make him symmetrical. He may or may not get there, but I liked having the horse better at the end than he was when I got on.
And sometimes, people see what you can do with a horse, as well as your respect for the horse's well-being and the HOs goals, and they do give you freedom to work their young horse on a consistent basis.
Again, back in my childhood, I learned to like the training process as much as the arrival at some goal. So now, I don't care if the free horse is a POS I'd never own. If the HO let's me improve him-- even just to make him more rideable for her-- I have the goal I need to stay happy.
Don't sell your saddle, sistah, be open to any horse opportunity that comes your way (and won't kill you) and remember to be happy that you didn't have to pay for the ride that day.
Don't sell your saddle. I didn't. Had no horse of my own after age 17 because I went far, far away to college. Mom would not pay to keep horse. Rode on the Eq. Team my senior year of college. Then nothing. Nada. There was no way I could afford a horse of my own and didn't want to "just" take lessons. Didn't own again until I was 50, and that only with the help of an inheritance. I know, it is tough. But you have to make your way in life.
What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!
Lots of us have had to take breaks from riding. It's not always possible to participate in a sport that is so expensive and so time consuming.
Don't sell your stuff now. It won't lose its value if you hold on to it and you may find other ways to enjoy horses -- polo ponies, retraining OTTBs, etc.
As you get older, your plans pretty much have to change when you factor in the other parts of your life.
I used to love to compete, but after I had kids and started my own business, it wasn't practical anymore. Now I foxhunt -- more flexibility, less cost, less stress and I feel no need any more to be competitive. I really love the supportive nature of the sport.
Give it some time and let yourself be open to possibilities.
I can only tell you my history, and hope it helps putting things in perspective.
Before I went to college, I was a serious, competitive rider. Not A shows, mostly pony club and unrecognized shows. But I was very serious and dedicated about what I did.
My first semester of college, I took my horse with me. The deal was that my parents would pay to keep the horses at home, and my mother and sister (still in high school)would look after them, but if we wanted to board, we had to fund it ourselves. I got a job in the barn mucking stalls, and found that I had the time for any two, but not all three, of
1 doing my school work,
2 doing my barn work
I ended up doing 1 and 2, but not having time for 3, which kind of defeated the purpose. So Rocket went home.
I did get a few opportunities to ride, but I found that the thing I missed the most was the performance aspect - preparing for a particular show, doing the best you can, either doing well or not. Then it is over, and you start to prepare for the next one, incorporating the lessons learned from the last one.
By the time I graduated, my sister was in college, and my mother was dieing of cancer. We were able to find homes for the horses. I went to graduate school.
I switched to a completely different sport to get my performance "fix". In my case it was motorcycle roadracing. My father had been an active racer from the time I was about 8, and I knoew it could be done safely, if not particularly succesfully, on a small budget. And if you are out of money this month, or something breaks and needs to be repaired/replaced, you can just wait until you have the money to fix it. NOT an option with a horse.
While I was racing, I also got involved helping out with the local Pony Club, and was asked to help keep a couple of fox hunters fit. So I DID get to ride a bit, but my performance fix came from the bike.
I finished grad school and got a full time job. I continued racing, upgrading to a faster, more expensive and time consuming to maintain, bike. After about 2 years, I realized that, with the amount of time and money I was spending on the bike, I could support a horse. So I quit racing, started taking riding lessons (lucky enough to be working close the the Junior Equitation School in Vienna, Va, where Kathy Kusner and Joe Fargis, among others, were trained), and set about getting a horse. I haven't looked back since.
So my reccomendation is to
Find something else, less expensive to satisfy your "working to a goal"/performace/competion needs.
Keep your finger in the horse world, but separate from the "goal" part
Get a good education
You may find you can afford to get back into horses form a goal/pereformance/competition perspective sooner than you think.
chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).
I've not read most of the posts but this is a normal process for a lot of us to go through during our life w/ (and without horses) for you it's continuing your eduction for others it might be having children, a job transfer or loss... the one thing is for most of us is that horses are our passion and because of that those who can't get it out of our systems will find a way to keep them in our life. That might just mean taking off to watch a horse show, volunteer in some capacity - local shows or organizations almost always are in need of good volunteers, watching horse races live or TV... I think you're being very mature and level headed about your situation - you don't have to look at it as an ending but just a haitus for awhile. As I stated earlier, in time you might feel good about becoming involved locally - volunteer at therapuetic riding center, maybe teach some lessons part time (and for gosh sakes no fretting over ammy pro status for now)... I am one who believes when a door closes a window opens... so keep that thought in mind...it's not an ending for you, you are just beginning. Best of luck to you!