For many of us, 2018 was a bit of a rough one. Between apocalyptic weather, equally unsettling politics, displays of excessive hypersensitivity to EVERYTHING from EVERYONE and, above all, the loss of Burt Reynolds (RIP Bandit *sky salute*), it’s no wonder many of us have retreated to our various fortresses of solace—i.e. the barn.
Horses don’t care if you identify as a pterodactyl as long as that pterodactyl has treats in its clammy pterodactyl paw. They don’t care about religion; they’re not choosing sides of a wall; the only conspiracy theory that concerns them is where and why trash cans appear weekly during hacks, and if house-for-sale signs have lascivious motives. They want food, water, shelter, security and good company. They have their priorities straight. We should take notes.
For myself and many fellow equestrians, 2018 was a total manure-storm, so there is no shame in setting those New Year’s resolution standards to around 18 inches. I hope these resolutions inspire you, or at least assure you it could always be worse.
In 2019 I want to…
Love: Love myself like Marshmellows, the lesson pony, loves himself, and believe in myself as much as Marshmellows believes in the abolishment of dirt paddocks and the banning of grazing muzzles.
Manage my weight: In the spirit of being kinder to myself and my mount, instead of pledging to make racing weight this year, how about just not gaining any more. Getting bigger horses to make yourself appear smaller is essentially Disney-princess-band-aiding the inevitable. You’re gonna run out of horse. Nutella is not a meal.
Focus on fitness: by running other places than the refrigerator. Stop taking your pills with coffee creamer.
Improve liver function: by drinking less in 2019 than 2018… and the five years before that… and a few before those.
OK, I feel like I’m doing preeeetty good so far, especially considering my New Year’s aspirations of 1992 included earning a Purple Heart, winning the Olympics, a Nobel Peace Prize, solving world hunger, and finally, seeing if my 14-hand potato-shaped pony could jump a 5-foot privacy fence.
*Flash forward* Resolutions of 2019 to include: “Try your best not to die.” Let’s continue.
Manage my debts: Paying off all those horse-related medical bills seems like a tall order. Just like that weight, do your best not to accrue more. Fortunately it’s 2019, and you can learn everything you need to know about medical procedures from YouTube tutorials. Furthermore I guarantee your horse community has a surplus of used body braces, medical equipment, expired prescriptions and unsolicited advice. After all you’re not really an equestrian unless you’ve asked your Facebook community: “Does this look broken to you?”
Prioritize: Reject adulthood at all costs. If it comes down to paying your cell phone bill or hiding in the woods with your horse for a couple hours, choose the woods. What’s the purpose of bill collectors if they don’t have to hunt you down like an elusive trophy buck in breeches? You’re essentially keeping them employed. Their frail children will most likely give you honorable mention while praying over their Scrooge-gooses on Christmas.
Learn from my horse: I often find myself considering what our horses must think of us. Since the beginning of recorded history humans have used horses to erect empires, fight wars and build wealth. They got us where we were going, plowed endless rows to feed us when we were hungry; they carried us into battle and died on the field beside us. They’ve forgiven us for centuries of ignorance and mistreatment. They forgive us still. If they could forgive us on a daily basis for all we ask of them, surely we could try to follow their example and forgive one another for all our collective human flaws and absurdities? We are all ridiculous. We are all going through something. Let’s practice a little empathy for 2019.
I know what you’re thinking. “Well, Elmer, the pagan pinto, wasn’t practicing empathy when he assault-/emergency-dismounted me in the middle of my dressage lesson on Tuesday.” Did he come back and trample you a few times? (Like every natural instinct in his angry little body told him to do.) No? Elmer was being empathetic. Be more like Elmer.
I once heard a client ask our vet if a horse’s brain was as small as everyone says they are. Without pause, the vet smiled and answered: “Maybe, but have you seen their hearts?”
Happy 2019 horse-humans! It’s going to be a good one, I can feel it.
Alice Peirce was raised as a self-described “feral horse farm child” in Howard County, Maryland. She’s made efforts to leave the horse world over the years but always comes back and has worked for a number of people in various disciplines. Currently she’s working for the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, attempting to teach her draft mule Olive how to jump, and training foxhunters in Monkton, Maryland, where she hunts with the Elkridge-Harford Hunt. Read all of Alice’s blogs.