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Have you ever considered giving up horses?

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  • #21
    I've taken a few breaks from horses in my 20 years of riding and I just keep coming back. The breaks have been forced due to lack of funds. I can't even tell you what a relief it was when I sold my last horse. I loved him, he was a good egg and perfect for what I wanted to do. But it majorly stressed me out to worry if he was going to have an unexpected vet bill, work off a portion of board and keep 2 jobs on top of it. I was driving around one day after looking at another place to board him and realized I didn't have the money to keep him. Period. About a month after I sold him, I finally realized the giant weight that was lifted off my shoulders.

    I rode a few horses on and off for a few more months and then took a year break. Toward the end of the break I started to realize I was in a funk and needed to ride. Not just a trail ride on a horse that needed work, I wanted lessons and goals. I was waiting on a job promotion, but I really thought about what I wanted to do. I considered going western and taking reining lessons. I considered hunters, dressage - almost everything. I knew I didn't want to own another horse until I had to money to do it right - Money for lessons, shows, board, unexpected vet bills.

    Fast forward to now - got the promotion and I've been taking lessons 2x a week at an eventing barn for almost a year and am now easing into a half lease. Maybe I'll go to a jumper show or unrecognized event in the fall. Best part is - I'm not stressed and it is FUN!


    • #22
      Absolutely normal and OK. I gave it up for 2 years a few years back. A long list of medical horsey problems, huge vet bills, retiring my upper level dressage prospect, a divorce and I had enough. I needed a break. I was 29 and had owned, ridden and trained horses for 27 of those years. I sold everything I had, retired my insanely talented pony to a trail horse due to headshaking and walked away. I refused to even walk into a barn for 2 years. I knew the smells and sounds of horses would lure me back. I just needed a rest. I had no idea if I would come back or not. I bought a jetski, boated, drank margaritas with friends I now had time for. I traveled, are out nice dinners with my new found extra money. I really didn't miss horses much at all much to my surprise.

      Then a little over 2 years later I got a call from an old horsey friend with an injured horse in critical condition. She needed my help. As I drove to the barn I remember thinking how happy I was I no longer owned a horse that could be in "critical condition" or injured or sick or...all the things we go through with horses. As I walked into the barn the smell of leather and hay hit me first. I the heard a bicker from a concerned barn mate. There in front of me was a mare with her entire chest ripped open and hanging down by her knee. I jumped right into action while we waited for the vet. It was all still there. After the mare was fixed up I started petting her. I had really missed that part. Flash forward to an innocent Internet browse and there she was. My dream pony. I was instantly in love. After 2 weeks of back and forth my fiancé, now husband, who I had met while without a horse, handed me the money and told me to go for it. He had seen a sparkle in my eye that he hadn't seen since we met. One trailer ride and one week later I had my Willa. Best decision ever. She's an angel and I adore her. The time I took off to heal from all the disappointment, heartache and sadness had allowed me to look at horses with fresh eyes. For me it was a great thing to take a break. I found my way back but I did enjoy my time off. Now I'm more passionate then ever but I had to wait for the spark to reignite itself. Now it's burning brighter than ever:-) Best of luck with whatever you do. But don't force it if you're not ready. Just give yourself time to heal :-)
      Please excuse the typos...I'm always on my iPhone and autocorrect is not my friend. Yes I mean mares autocorrect...not mates.


      • #23
        OP, if you're willing to shop slightly out of state, I just got an email about a free OTTB gelding a trainer friend of mine is trying to place. I haven't seen him yet, but I'd be willing to check him out on your behalf to see if he might be a good fit. I also know of a few other very economically-priced young'uns.

        Don't give up hope!


        • #24
          Nope...never took a break or felt the need to take a full break. At one point I made my living working with horses (briefly) and did decide pretty quickly that I didn't want to do that (I didn't want to lose the passion by becoming a job and I didn't have the financial security that I needed if I got hurt).

          But what other people do or have done really doesn't matter. It is what you want. Horses are heartbreakers. When you were younger, perhaps you were shielded more from it. But now with adult eyes...you see the reality. The reality is that LIFE is tough. You will always have to deal with things you don't want to deal with. The question is whether the joy and fun you have with the horses is worth going through the low periods....because no matter what....there will be low periods and tough decisions. For me...they are and have always been something that I'd rather have in my life than not....but I know many other people that have taken a break (some for a very long time).

          There is no right or wrong decision.
          Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Apr. 22, 2013, 03:01 PM. Reason: duplicate post and typo!
          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


          • #25
            I've had times when it wasn't practical or affordable to have horses. The longest break I took was about seven years -- I did other things until one day I decided I had to ride again.

            You've had some bad luck, so no wonder you're feeling like a break is in order! You are also in a very tough part of the country to keep a horse -- it's expensive and the facility your at doesn't have much turnout or any place to hack. With that type of combination, taking on a younger/greener prospect becomes even harder because riding in circles in a ring isn't going to cut it for many horses. My own horse wouldn't last for five minutes if he had to be in a stall all the time.

            Just because you take some time off doesn't mean you can't go back.
            Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
            EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by alto View Post
              I don't know anything about your current facility but maybe look at it with new eyes - is it really premium from the perspective of the horse?
              It really is a wonderful facility. I've boarded at several nice facilities and this is far and away my favorite. The care of the horses couldn't be better. I've never felt safer about my horse being somehwere. The incident of injuries have absoulutely nothing to do with the facility and everything to do with the reality of owning horses. They are surprisingly fragile creatures, I am learning.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                You are also in a very tough part of the country to keep a horse -- it's expensive and the facility your at doesn't have much turnout or any place to hack.
                Yes, I'm realizing that the more I'm on COTH. SoCal is a pricey place to own a horse, especially on a teacher's salary. My facility does have miles of very nice hacking trail (they actually maintain the footing, too, which is a huge plus) and a large turnout, but there is a high demand for turnout and often you can't get more than 30 minutes in before someone else is in line. I have a pretty roomy 16x24, but it's definitely no pasture.


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Event4Life View Post
                  Now, I still don't have my own, but I'm back into riding 100%. I'm currently at the barn 3-4 times a week all day, and plan to move that up once summer starts. I ride an average of 3 horses a day and take at least 1 lesson a week. I'm improving so much and it feels great!! I can't wait to have a full time job so I can afford my own again, but for now I'm loving the opportunity to learn on some really nice horses I wouldn't be able to afford myself.
                  It's nice to hear that you consider yourself back into riding 100% but don't own your own horse. Maybe what I need is a break from ownership, although owning my horse was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I think I'm just deeply fearful of hurt horses now, which is a reality in this sport. Not sure if I'm ready to get on the merry-go-round again. I totally thought I was, but the more negative shopping experiences I have the more fearful I become.


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by blame_the_champagne View Post
                    I have a pretty roomy 16x24, but it's definitely no pasture.

                    And that is a key issue. I've lived where we had similar issues....and lived in CA. I moved back east and work back east just because I'm able to keep my horses in a manner that I prefer. Out of the 15 horses that I currently own...only two would do ok with that sort of limited turn out. The rest would self destruct in multiple ways. They can tolerate short periods of confinement for a show....but not long term. Most of my horses are out in smaller groups of 3-4 horses with each group on 5-10 acres of good grass for over 8 hours a day (sometimes more).....and a few live out 24/7 in a larger field. It makes all the difference in the world to their management. They do still get hurt...as that is horses...especially nice ones....but not as much nor as difficult when confined more.

                    So you do have the dissadvantage of keeping horses in a much harder and more expensive situation. It is possible....but it is harder.
                    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                    • #30
                      I have "given up horses" (meaning no riding, no owning, no interaction) MANY times in the course of my life, always because of lack of time and/or money.

                      Guess what? When I was ready to go back to them . . . there were still horses.

                      Nothing at all wrong with taking a break for ANY reason. Give yourself some time.
                      Click here before you buy.


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by blame_the_champagne View Post
                        It's nice to hear that you consider yourself back into riding 100% but don't own your own horse. Maybe what I need is a break from ownership, although owning my horse was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I think I'm just deeply fearful of hurt horses now, which is a reality in this sport. Not sure if I'm ready to get on the merry-go-round again. I totally thought I was, but the more negative shopping experiences I have the more fearful I become.
                        I actually think I ride more now than I did when I owned! When I owned I rode my 1 horse 4-6 times a week. Now I ride 3-4 times a week but spend a minimum of 6 hours at the barn and usually ride 3 horses in that time. Needless to say I am learning so much from riding so many different horses! They are all teaching me something, from the crabby appaloosa mare to the fancy WB gelding. I think you are right that we sometimes need to remember why we love riding/interaction with horses without the responsibilities and sometimes stress of ownership. Are there a few horses I'm riding now I'd LOVE to buy?! YES, of course! I like to say I have my "dream field" of my trainer's horses, lol. It goes without saying they would be 100% sound 100% of the time, able to live outside & barefoot, only ever see the vet for vaccinations, & compete or do whatever I wanted to do, again, lol...this is my "dream field" for a reason! However, I know now is not the time for me to own so I'll enjoy riding and learning from them as much as I can until they go onto their new people/careers, and know I helped send them on the way :-D.

                        I think it may be really good for you to give up on the idea of ownership/leasing for now. You've obviously had some really negative experiences and need to re find the love/passion for it. If that means taking a break, going back to taking lessons, or finding a new discipline, then so be it, but give yourself the time to do so and come to terms with the negative experiences. It happens to the best of us and doesn't mean you are less of a horse person!
                        "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                        "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


                        • #32
                          pick me!!! I went through hell with my life because of this passion for riding. It made me lose sleep because I had to work so much, it made me broke (duh), and it emotionally drained me to have to deal with so many responsibilities. Do I love horses and riding with a passion? Absolutely. Is it time for be to fulfill those passions right now? No. And it took a while but I've come to terms with it.

                          I found a lovely lease situation for my mare. And I've learned that there is in fact life without horses and it isn't entirely miserable. I feel like I am missing a part of me, yes, but I know that when this patch is done I'll be able to come back into the horse world full swing. I'm thinking of it as an emotional cleansing.

                          I think taking this break has been great for me. I'm remembering that I am in fact a person, not just a horse care-taker. I know that horses and riding will be there for me when I am ready to jump back in, and I'm learning how to better handle my next big horse adventure.
                          Best of luck!


                          • #33
                            Maybe what I need is a break from ownership, although owning my horse was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I think I'm just deeply fearful of hurt horses now, which is a reality in this sport.
                            OP, I think you answered your own question here.
                            I encourage you to stay with horses but give the ownership thing a break. Lessons, an adults horse camp, a week trail riding somewhere fab (the Canadian Rockies, India, Ireland, you pick) and look for a lease or catch ride - you will be enjoying horses, not breaking your heart shopping.


                            • #34
                              Take a break! Horses are too expensive and time consuming to do it unless you really, really want to. Take that extra money and hit the spa, travel with friends or even put some of it away for a bigger/better horse for when you are ready to shop (or use it for house reno's, a big trip, etc.)

                              If you want the fun of horses without the commitment, why don't you join the local hunt? There are usually one or two people who have a hunt horse (or two) that you can "rent out" to enjoy a day on horseback if you are a competent rider, or find a local group of happy hackers that is looking for an extra rider to spend a day on the trails. Sometimes just being around horses and good company is enough.
                              A quick tutorial on interval training: Conditioning your horse for eventing


                              • #35
                                I just went through this myself. More than once. I have so many tragedy s, and injuries and illnesses in the last 15 years than I care to recount. But something keeps me going. I know boarding barns have nearly ruined it for me in the past, but I am lucky enough to be able to keep them home. I get overwhelmed by the expense though. The vet bills, feed, ect. So I know what you mean. You have to do a lot of soul searching. Maybe step back like the others said. Who knows, in the end you might decide leasing a horse is the way to go!


                                • #36
                                  I totally understand your frustrations and tiredness. Just like anything else, there are idiots and deplorable people in this profession. Some are just ignorant. Some are rotten to the core.
                                  I'm a sensitive person. I don't have thick skin that bad things just bounce off of. I have to be careful about the people I'm around, and make sure they're not bringing me down. Sometimes I feel bad about this (they need friends too, and some of them I'm related to and they complain to my husband about me shunning them, haha). There's nothing wrong with sculpting your life to be the happiest it can possibly be. I can't remember who said it, but one psychologist said that you have the right to do anything it takes to make you your best and happiest self.
                                  For me, that meant a carefully selected trainer who is positive and happy, looking for months for the right horse, and a 45-minute drive one way through canyon roads to a new barn, where the facilities aren't ideal, but the people are smart and clean and driven by love for their horses.
                                  I have a house to clean and a little girl to spoil and dinners to cook, and it'd be nice to have all that extra time and money, but riding gives me the will and the strength to deal with everything else. YMMV.
                                  So I guess my advice is find the happiness--wherever it may be, with or without horses, or somewhere in between.
                                  Last edited by amytheolympian; Apr. 22, 2013, 07:10 PM. Reason: spelling


                                  • #37
                                    Wow-- you've been through a lot. I'm so sorry. I don't blame you one bit for feeling discouraged-- horses are so heartbreaking sometimes.

                                    Your instinct to think through your goals at this point is absolutely right, and I agree with everybody who has pointed out that you have lots of options. You can "do" horses without owning for a while (like leasing or lessons or borrowing). Or you can take a break from horses and they will still be there when you are ready again. Whatever you choose will be OK.

                                    One thing you might do is sit down with a sheet of paper and think about what it is that you want from horses at this moment. You can start with the statement you wrote in your original post:
                                    Originally posted by blame_the_champagne View Post
                                    Horses are in my blood. As a young adult, they have been a joy and a passion. I love riding because it gives me financial and physical goals, partnership with a beloved animal, friendship with barn mates, a chance to get outside every day, a nice workout, and a sense of accomplishment among other things.
                                    And then you can write a list of things that you don't want to deal with right now. I think just getting it on paper might help clarify things in your mind.

                                    I hope this helps.
                                    Taco Blog
                                    *T3DE 2010 Pact*


                                    • #38
                                      I can speak on this subject for sure. I lost my job, all my things but held on to my house and one horse on my property. But she was the last one of 3 that was sound. All of a sudden she started bucking and spooking-after huge vet bills, custom saddles we finally found the culprit and she was diagnosed unrideable. It broke me. I ended up having to admit I couldn't keep my house either. I was out of horses for a long time until I finally had a stable job again. But now we lived where I would have to board. I set out to figure out what I wanted out of a horse. Soundness was really all I cared about and kind. I no longer care if I am too chicken to go out with 20 other people on a huge group trail ride, or even out on a trail that day. I have taken lessons with my horse and she and I are going farther than I thought we could. But everyday I am just glad for safe horse time. There is nothing wrong with a break, and maybe you won't go back but for me I HAD to take that break to figure out where I was.


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by Event4Life View Post
                                        I actually think I ride more now than I did when I owned! When I owned I rode my 1 horse 4-6 times a week. Now I ride 3-4 times a week but spend a minimum of 6 hours at the barn and usually ride 3 horses in that time. Needless to say I am learning so much from riding so many different horses!
                                        I'm in a very similar situation and am finding the same! Learning so much and spending lots of time in the saddle riding multiple horses a day, from greenies to schoolmasters. It's a great way to keep riding without the stress and emotional commitment of ownership.


                                        • #40
                                          I sold my horses before going to college and have been in a rut since then. I tried leasing a horse and she was lame so I had to return her (that was a huge mess, too). then I got a job at a farm while in college and that didn't work out on their end financially and had to give up my project horse there. I also did the school team and that was fun but I realized if I was going to spend money on horses I wanted it to be dressage or jumpers/eventing and not hunters or IHSA. Since then, I've been riding a really nice dressage horse. For FREE!! I am going to my first dressage show in a couple of weeks and I am really excited! He is fancy and fun and I can't wait to keep riding him until graduation. After I graduate from college I am moving to a city in the south that isn't really horse friendly and all the barns are about 30-40 mins away for a decent price. I am sure that I will again take at least a 6 month break until I can get settled and on my feet as a recently graduated college student. When I am ready I might lease something if the price is right or buy my own. Who knows. Horses will ALWAYS be there and it is important to not judge or compare yourself to others. This may be hard because of facebook and social media and it's hard not to be jealous of there progress. Instead, I am happy for them because that is what they chose to do. I chose to go to college. It's only 4 years and I am sure that I will be happy with that decision for the rest of my life. I want to go to graduate school in the city that I am moving to and my BF and I have plans to get married and he is going to finish his schooling, too. I am more excited for our future in a new city together than having a horse when I graduate. I think that means I am doing to right thing to not have a horse. If you have to think about taking a break it probably means you need one. It could only be for a few months or a couple of years. Who knows! Everyone is different and you're not alone in this situation. Chin up!