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Horseless for the first time in 24 years...hobbies needed!

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    Horseless for the first time in 24 years...hobbies needed!

    Well, I am horseless for the first time since I was a kid. My husband and I had decided that we need a financial break from horses in order to accomplish some goals we set for ourselves financially. Somehow I have managed to have a horse even through college, having 5 kids (and 2 stepsons!), and a handful of career changes through the years. We are actually better off financially than we ever have been now that the kids are getting older, and we both are able to have full time jobs (youngest is 5 and in PreK). But time wise I am swamped, as you can imagine, with a regular Mon-Fri full time 40 hour work week, kids in all kinds of activities, etc. I also work a second job on the weekends taking full care of a Morgan farm AM/PM.

    Anyways, I have done a lot of rescue work over the past 10 years, and I am sort of burnt out on it. I found a lovely soft landing for my latest rescue (he's going to be a lesson horse, which suits him perfectly). Once I started adding up the monthly bills of what I was spending, even keeping a horse at home I was nearing $600 a month between feed, hay, shavings, all the extra incidental monthly expenses, farrier etc. One piece of advice...if you love your horses don't add up the bills! So hubby and I started discussing it, and we realized how much quicker we can achieve our goals if we go horseless for a year or two. I placed my last rescue, sold my trailer this weekend, and am in the process of pretty much selling off 20 years worth of horse tack and supplies. My GOAL is to get back into ownership within the next couple of years.

    As you can imagine, I am a bit lost at the moment. My whole life has revolved around horses since I was a young kid. I'm trying to find new hobbies and interests to take up what little time I do have (I may be busier than your average bear, but I always keep my brain busy).

    In order to stay fit and involved, I am planning on taking a weekly lesson at a local barn. However, I am limited as I want to put as much money as possible towards our financial goals so once a week is really all I want to swing for. Do you think once weekly lessons is enough to keep me in the game so when I do jump back into horse ownership, I haven't lost my groove? I am excited to spend this time focusing on improving myself, since the past ten years or so has been dealing with various rescues or retraining projects with pretty severe behavioral/training issues. It's been a long time since I have sat on a horse with the intention of not just staying alive and working through whatever baggage that horse came with. So, I am no longer a pretty rider, and while effective, I would love to get back to being the lovely rider I used to be, before all the baby horses and behaviorally challenged horses I've worked with.

    Any advice to keep me from going crazy while I wait out this horseless part of my life? Feeling a little lost....

    Ok. Advice. Don’t sell your tack. Otherwise, I don’t have much advice. I feel for you. I can totally see the financial sense in this.
    "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch


      Original Poster

      Originally posted by seabreeze View Post
      Ok. Advice. Don’t sell your tack. Otherwise, I don’t have much advice. I feel for you. I can totally see the financial sense in this.
      I have spent THOUSANDS in rehabbing horses down on their luck. I do have my main tack I am keeping but I have quite an assortment, a lot of stuff I haven't used in quite a long while. The hardest part was selling my trailer this weekend. It was bittersweet watching it pull away, but that's our new remodeled kitchen right there! I couldn't justify it just sitting there, not being used for years, when we definitely need to remodel the kitchen before it falls apart. I've had to put it off for costly bills for horses that others have dropped in my lap, now's the time to get it done!!!


        As a person who put horses on hold for a few years when my son was born and only took once/week lessons, it is definitely doable. You may not progress, and you may even back slide a bit depending on your overall skill and fitness, but it will help keep you in better shape than nothing. I think you will find that when you are ready for another horse it will be a bit easier if you keep up the lessons. Who knows, you may also find some new skills and tools for your tool box by riding different horses. Additionally, I found it kept me a bit sane to have my once/week time to myself.

        As far as other hobbies, I know you said you were burnt out on rescues, but what about volunteering at a therapeutic riding center? Working at a local tack shop (it will get you closer to your financial goals quicker)?

        Cooking? Taking up a new skill like knitting or woodworking? Coach a kids' sports team or become a referee?
        "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham


          Original Poster

          I do have loads of friends with horses who trail ride, who would gladly stick me on one of their extra horses to go trail riding, so I do plan on continuing to ride with friends, other than just a weekly lesson. Maybe that will keep me fit as well. I sit in a chair all day in an office so I worry about how out of shape I will get if I have absolutely zero physical activity. My husband has mentioned signing us up for a local gym, and going to work out together (they have child care there too, so its doable to bring the younger ones along and let them play while we work out).

          I've already been volunteered and have been helping lead one of my kids Cub Scout packs, I do that on Monday evenings. I hate hate hate cooking. Not sure why, maybe because I'm no good at it. Good ideas, thanks, keep them coming!


            Originally posted by WildLittleWren View Post
            I do have my main tack I am keeping but I have quite an assortment, a lot of stuff I haven't used in quite a long while. The hardest part was selling my trailer this weekend.
            That’s good. I read it to mean you were selling all of it, and I was thinking how expensive it would be to replace it when you decide to pick up the horse habit again. I’m sure selling your trailer was hard. Hang in there!
            "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch


              Gardening is a great hobby that makes you go outside and haul around bags of stuff. You might even have some old manure just going to waste....


                Original Poster

                Originally posted by Moonlitoaks View Post
                Gardening is a great hobby that makes you go outside and haul around bags of stuff. You might even have some old manure just going to waste....
                Ahh if only I didn't have a black thumb. I think I've killed every plant I've ever tried to raise


                  To maintain stamina you will need something that gets you moving at moderate intensity for extended periods of time. Hiking is good and free!

                  To maintain core fitness you may want to try Pilates.


                    If you're looking for 'busy' in addition to horse related activities... volunteer someplace. Once you start looking, there is a volunteer position for just about anyone... Law enforcement, local botanical garden or zoo, art museum, homeless shelters, local government, soup kitchen, nature center, local library, you name it and there is probably a volunteer spot.
                    Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; John Gilliespie Magee, Jr


                      Roll around in all the money you're not spending?

                      I laugh because I envy your ability to step away. If I'd not bought a pony just 6 months before putting my old guy down, I'd probably have taken a break too. As it is pony isn't really expensive on the grand scale of horse keeping, so he stays.

                      If you're artistic, or want to be... Wood burning is kind of fun and not an expensive or space-consuming craft. Draw, paint, sketch, sculpt things out of clay. Read books, all kinds of books, learn a new language. Raise chickens or other edible small creatures. Learn to make soap or candles, brew your own beer or wine. Become a yoga/CrossFit/pilates/running/etc enthusiast!

                      Just beware of getting yourself into expensive hobbies! It may not be as expensive as horses, but if the point of giving up a beloved hobby is to save money, it doesn't pay to end up doing something you only sort of enjoy and still spend a fortune on.


                        You say you have done a lot of rescue work, and are burnt out on it ... how about helping adopters and fosters who need some horse skills? You just drop in and give them pointers, tips and guidance, as frequently or as infrequently as you wish. They get the long-haul of hands-on work, and whatever bills they elect to take on.


                          Original Poster

                          Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                          You say you have done a lot of rescue work, and are burnt out on it ... how about helping adopters and fosters who need some horse skills? You just drop in and give them pointers, tips and guidance, as frequently or as infrequently as you wish. They get the long-haul of hands-on work, and whatever bills they elect to take on.
                          I've thought about that. I was actually invited to a local horse rescue about 6 mos ago. She needed someone to donate their training time for their numerous rescue horses. At the time I was swamped as much as I would have liked to help. I might reach out to her. I much prefer working with horses over humans. I deal with enough humans 40 hours a week 😂. Great idea!


                            I got really into fitness and weightlifting while I was horseless. I joined a gym, got a personal trainer and learned how to do olympic weightlifting. It was SO MUCH FUN. I have never felt so strong and empowered. I also explored some musical and artistic talents and developed a whole new career. I learned Italian and traveled around Italy for a summer. I got a graduate degree. There were days I missed horses deeply, but I did enjoy being able to participate in "normal" life. I think that no matter what, we'll always miss something. Now that I'm deep into the horse world again, I miss brunch and pedicures.

                            Weekly lessons will keep you in some sort of saddle-shape, but if and when you return to horsey-life, you will feel it. It's not the same. I also discovered that all my tack and gear was pretty much useless when I returned so I had to buy new stuff (I was gone for about 8 years). The only things that lasted were my tall boots and some brushes. So don't feel bad about selling it! Sell it all! And enjoy this different season in life.


                              Yes, once a week lesson is absolutely enough to keep you in the game when you're ready for ownership again.

                              I'd take this time to explore. Try things you've never tried before. Woodworking, welding, golf, yoga, dog training/agility, baking classes, cake decorating, sewing classes, a musical instrument, audio mixing - there's about a billion options. Find what tickles your fancy.


                                Why not volunteer at some horse shows? Shows are always in need of good volunteers to run smoothly. Maybe even try volunteering at a show outside your discipline, like driving. You'll learn new things, still be close to horses, and maybe meet some new friends. I was between horses for a period of about 4-5 years, and I did a LOT of volunteering and had a LOT of fun. Now that I have a horse again, I still volunteer when I can because I really enjoy it.


                                  I agree ^^^ eventing and driving need a lot of people to help run for 2-3 days. And you will learn A LOT and really meet people. Crazy people - our special preferred type!


                                    Original Poster

                                    Thanks for all the ideas everyone! I think I have a few directions to explore and see what sticks. Thanks again. It's still weird to not base my day around horse care...feeding twice a day, determining whether or not to blanket on certain nights, etc. But I'm also enjoying it. Focusing more on my kids, and getting some long put off projects around the house.


                                      Many people get involved in dog sports, myself included, when horses are impossible for logistical or financial reasons. I've also noticed that their choice of horse sport seems to be reflected in their choice of dog sport: jumpers like agility, dressage riders prefer obedience, and lots of eventers do field trials and hunt tests.


                                        When I was horseless for a few years and looking for a hobby, I started taking piano lessons. I had always wanted to play and the university near me had a community program where non students could get lessons for a very reasonable price.

                                        Unfortunately, my dreams of becoming the next Chopin playing musical genius were not realized. Sigh.