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Dealing with Reality (Rant)

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  • Dealing with Reality (Rant)

    Yesterday I was pulling a mane (for free...again...) knowing I wouldn't be the one to show the horse I ride several times a week. That'd I'd have to watch it go on to compete and win, again, under someone else.

    I realized that I have been enduring treatment I wouldn't take anywhere else, working my fingers to the bone for the chance to ride someone else's horses, and (if I'm lucky) a "thank you."

    I finally pulled my head out of the sand and realized that where I have been working and riding is not okay. That filth and messed up feet is the reality for any horses not currently in competition. Stalls full of manure, fences falling down, newborn foals sleeping in urine-soaked bedding is not okay.

    Of course I knew all this already, but I turned a blind eye because I get to ride.

    I also realized that the horses I ride are not my horses. Duh, of course they aren't, right? But you can't help but feel like they have a little part of you in them, that in some ways they are yours, because you make each other into the horse and rider you are. But I don't get to hear them nicker for me at breakfast or take them on a trail ride or give them silly braids because I feel like it.

    I've ridden my whole life but never owned my own. Because I can't afford it, my parents couldn't afford it. And I feel myself losing motivation to ride at all, if these are the circumstances available to me.

    No matter how creatively I try to approach the situation, the reality is it's this or nothing. Maybe later in life, I keep saying, maybe I will be able to afford it then.

    But I think years of riding others' horses has made riding feel like a chore to me. Sure, I become a little better rider, the horses become a little better mounts. Then inevitably we go our separate ways and I start over with a different horse.

    Sometimes I wish I had never started riding, that I had picked up a different hobby, like dominoes or tennis. Because this sport breaks my heart.

  • #2
    No advice, just a (((((hug))))

    I reject your reality, and substitute my own- Adam Savage

    R.I.P Ron Smith, you'll be greatly missed


    • #3
      ((hugs)) OP. Please don't give up. The horses in this world need dedicated people like you to make life better for them.

      Have you considered the 'horseless rider' post here on COTH? There are a lot of busy owners looking for someone to ride their nice horses for them, and even to show them. Can you get catch rides at some local shows?
      Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
      Witherun Farm


      • #4
        Here's another hug for you........

        Now, a little kick in the pants. Sweetie, if this barn isn't a nice place, go find another barn! There are good places where the care is excellent and there are sub par places. Ride at a stable where you can feel good about the care as well as the riding.

        Now for the hard part... When you say you "can't afford" to own your own horse, how about a lease? Are you paying for your lessons, but can't afford more than that? Lots of folks are in your shoes and you ARE fortunate if you're able to work around the barn for rides. Your labor (worth x dollars per hour) are earning you riding. Maybe your time would be more valuable babysitting or pet sitting. I've been absolutely floored at the amount that one of my students earns as a little entrepreneur. Her parents pay for the basics, but she earns enough to go to A rated shows on her own dime!

        Sit down and really do the math. How much would a partial lease cost at a place that you respect? I know you probably feel like Cinderella slaving at the barn, but once you've had your little pity party, get smart!! And be proud of yourself for paying your way!


        • #5
          Where are you ? There's bound to be people like me in your area, with too many nice horses right now who would appreciate your help. Don't give up - it does get easier as you get older, and have more spare cash. What are you doing about upgrading yourself so you can earn more money - school, training, ambitions .... money isn't everything but it really helps a lot If you have to take a break ... take a break ! Get yourself a great career, throw your heart and soul into it, marry a good-looking younger man* and come back to the horse-owning thing in a couple of years.

          *this career plan based on limited research - may not apply in all cases.


          • #6
            Some thoughts:

            If you would not keep your own horse where you are now...why are you there?

            Why are you pulling the mane of a horse when the owner doesn't appreciate it?

            If you wish to ride a horse in some shows, why are you in a sharing relationship where you don't get to show the horse?

            There are victims and there are volunteers...you're a victim the first time it happens to you...you're a volunteer when you stay around for it to happen to you again and again. Sounds like you're a volunteer.

            Riding isn't THAT expensive if done correctly. A nice barn with safe field board where you're partial leasing a horse from an absentee owner sounds more like what you'd enjoy. Lots of these horses out there. Just remember, the horse isn't yours, you want to treat him well...the horse is not yours.

            Time to go.
            Take a break.
            Enjoy your other horse friends but no more being a victim.
            "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


            • #7
              I just wanted to say, don't give up!

              I know it's hard, I did what you're describing for years! If having your own horse/improving your riding/developing a personal bond with "your" horse are your goals, then maybe it's time to take a step back and see how you can get from here to there?

              If you goal is improving your riding or getting more saddle time or competing...then you may be on the right track with not owning your own horse. Because especially at the beginning, your learning curve will require many different horses over the course of time, and you definitely can't afford to buy all of them!

              But, if your goals are tending more towards the having a special relationship with that "one" horse no matter what...then perhaps you need to look at your ability to make more money, or allocate it differently to afford your own horse. Do you need to go back to school or look for a different job? This is a long road of course, but lots of us who really want to be in horses for the long haul have to look at things this way. Obviously you know how to work hard for what you want, based on your OP, so maybe you just need to apply that work ethic to changing your work/income situation to get the payoff in the future?

              Another alternative is to use the horse skills you have developed working in this barn where you are underappreciated and don't like the care/horse treatment situation and go looking for another barn. There are barns and trainers out there who do appreciate dedicated skilled workers to help with their horses. Perhaps you can find a situation to trade your work for lessons or whatever it is you are looking for...board for your own horse/competition priviledges (sp) on a horse you ride or lease from them/etc? This could work for you either way, if you want your own horse you can bargain for board, if you still need to improve your riding, you can bargain for lessons/training/showing.

              Just because you've been at this barn for however long, doesn't mean it's the only place where you can work. The horse world is FULL of people who are happy to take advantage of folks who will work hard to learn all they can about riding/horsemanship/whatever. You don't have to stay in that situation regardless of what they tell you.

              Trainers and barns who run their businesses ethically and value hard work and horse-first practices are out there...but you do have to look. If you take your level of dedication to such a business, your work will be appreciated and you will learn what you need to, to achieve your goals.

              I think it's important to figure out WHAT you want, short term and long term and then you can determine the path to get there. What specifically are you most dissatisfied with in your current situation, then prioritize those issues for yourself. You sound like you have the makings of a good show groom or something along those lines. Identify your skills/what you have to offer and then figure out where and in what situation you can make it work.

              Good luck! You can get where you want to and be happy doing it!
              Thoroughbred Placement Resources, Inc


              • #8
                Thanks guys. I need the hugs.

                Jsalem, when I say I can't afford to own, I mean I live in a crappy apartment, shop at thrift stores, and don't run the AC in my car to save on gas. I don't even take lessons.

                I don't want to be too specific but another part time job to pay for horses is pretty much impossible. I would have the money for board but not the time to ride. Same situation with working off riding time at a nicer place.

                The place I am at now, working for riding time was not the arrangement. I have been slowly sucked into being asked for "favors." The idea was I ride some greenies the owner can't/won't and obviously I get saddle time.

                I also find myself doing small things to try to clean the place up. But that is a losing battle obviously and it just makes me bitter.


                • #9
                  Wow a lot of posts I missed when I was writing.

                  I know I am setting myself up for this, Trak. I told myself, if I work hard, really really hard, then it'll all work out. No, that isn't how it works, always. I do realize I am being taken advantage of.

                  echodecker, I have spent years riding for other people, and learned a lot. I really want my own. I know it is a whole different ball game than catch riding or even leasing. But it's what I want.


                  • #10
                    Why can't I find an experienced somebody who wants to work a little in exchange for riding? I've got several that need work and if someone wanted to show them, I'd be delighted. You could trail ride or put silly braids in, just don't pull a mane or shorten a tail! If you lived near me I'd give you your choice of horses you could call your own. Keep your eyes and ears open, OP, and eventually something good will come your way!


                    • #11
                      As for my career--I have an education, my SO does not. That has to be a priority before horse ownership. Also, while we do not have kids, we will probably soon become responsible for a young family member due to her parent's health issues.

                      So yeah, in different circumstances, I could afford to own, but I have to be responsible.


                      • #12
                        OP, that's good, sooo...if you know what you really want is your own, then work towards that! It's awesome that you have this work ethic, but you have to channel it towards a situation that will help you.

                        It doesn't matter if you work your fingers to the bone, if the person you're working for is a soul sucking user! And unfortunately, that's pretty common in the horse world, it sounds like you have one of your own already!

                        So...leave the barn you are at!

                        Look for a different situation where you can trade some hard work for board or a lease. I actually have a great situation with my BO at a small private barn. Many people who have their own places would LOVE to have someone do the barn work, maybe every evening or maybe weekends, etc in exchange for reduced or free board. I will be moving in a couple months to my own place and looking for exactly such a person. Win-win for everyone.

                        Then, look for your horse. There are MANY free/cheap horses out there these days.

                        I will say though...if you are so stone cold broke, is horse ownership the right plan for you right now? Even if you can get free board, there are still vet and farrier bills, and emergency requirements. Maybe you should look at your education/employment options to generate more income for yourself down the road. Or...look for a place you can live and work in exchange for board/reducing your living expenses?

                        You don't say where you're from...some areas have a lot of these type of opportunities.
                        Thoroughbred Placement Resources, Inc


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by echodecker View Post

                          I will say though...if you are so stone cold broke, is horse ownership the right plan for you right now? Even if you can get free board, there are still vet and farrier bills, and emergency requirements. Maybe you should look at your education/employment options to generate more income for yourself down the road. Or...look for a place you can live and work in exchange for board/reducing your living expenses?
                          No, it isn't. That's exactly why I said in my OP that there really isn't a way to make this work, now or in the near future (5 years or so). As for education, I have one, and the student loans to go with it. But as I said before, my SO needs one, he only has a GED. So that has to come first. And we just might be charged with caring for a little girl soon.

                          I am not trying to make excuses, I know some of you think I am being a crybaby. The truth is, I've been keeping my chin up for years and years. It just finally caught up with me recently. And I know that I AM lucky that I get to ride at all--tons of folks would die just to be able to ride a horse, any horse. But in some ways, riding these horses just whets my appetite for a horse of my own that I really can't (responsibly) have.

                          Plus, I rarely let things get to me, and as strange as it sounds, it is kind of cathartic to let myself be sad and upset and a big baby about this. So please be patient, and understand where I'm coming from.


                          • #14
                            I definitely don't think you're a crybaby! I get where you're coming from, and without a desire to change your situation, you never will, right?

                            I guess my whole point (overly verbose, I know) is that you can still do the things you love and want to do with horses in a better environment where your hard work is appreciated.

                            I have come to believe that the horse world is full of people with money and few actual horse skills and those with plenty of marketable horse skills (and work ethic) and no cash. I know there are exceptions out there, but this is a general observation.

                            So...you fall into the second category. Find someone out there if the first category that wants things done the right way and will PAY you for your knowledge and work...and you're on the right track! Figuring out how to be paid for the horse things I would happily do for free has been a big step forward for me. Now I get to do more horse things AND it costs me less than it used to overall! Win-win!

                            You will get there, have faith and respect the things that you bring to the table!
                            Thoroughbred Placement Resources, Inc


                            • #15
                              Go the private barn route.

                              There are tons of people like me, amateurs with with too many horses at home -- nice horses -- and not enough time, who would love to have someone help us ride and pull manes. Heck, if you were good enough we would probably try to find a way to let you show if you'd help us out at shows. And many of us treat our horses like kings, that's why we don't have time to ride.

                              Keep an eye open and think outside the big barn world. And if you're in NW Indiana, PM me.


                              • #16
                                Been there, done that, stayed too long.

                                You have some things going for you-- experience, realism and a clear sense of what you want.

                                You can be sad for awhile when the reality of this slowly-worsening situation "catches up with you all of a sudden."

                                After that-- or out of that-- you can get some standards, you know? Just know what you want in the next riding arrangement you make and also the signs that it will lead where you want or is going bad. Be patient with any of these. But keep your eyes open, too.

                                Sometimes it can feel powerful to say "I don't know what I'll do next but I won't do This any more." Then keep your chin up and see what doors open. If you need to take a break from horses for a while to keep from being sad, frustrated or exploited, then do that and be proud of the decision. After all, you know what you can have if you stay where you are. If you want this life back, you can have it. But sometimes you have to say no to a crappy invitation in order to make room for another one.
                                The armchair saddler
                                Politically Pro-Cat


                                • #17
                                  Been there, done it - and walked. And made out much better for having walked, in spite of the fact that at the time I had no money for a horse and could really only afford occasional lessons and a show every once in a blue moon.

                                  There is frequently a horse that needs riding available for a rider with good basics. I discovered that when I left a very toxic situation and found a local amateur rider who was happy to have someone else to trail ride with. We trail rode. She invited me to ride her horses any time I felt like it. Over the years we've worked out an arrangement that works for both of us - it splits up some of the work for her, I have horses to ride that were beyond anything I could've afforded to buy and board for myself. I get to show as much as I can pay for, as she's happy to haul me to any horse shows I can pay the entries for. Her horses then got show experience under their belts at no cost to her.

                                  I can understand wanting your own - but in all the years I've ridden for other people I've found that, at least for me, the "ownership" part wasn't as important as how you felt about the situation. I was always lucky that people have let me treat their horses as if they were my own.
                                  They're small hearts.


                                  • #18
                                    I understand

                                    I understand. Unlike you though, I had a horse as a kid. I sold my horse after college as I couldn't afford one on my right out of college salary. For the next 18 years, I rode off and on as I could find a place where there were horses that needed riding. Most of the time, the horses were improved as a result and ended up being sold.

                                    In my 30's, I moved, started lessons, and started riding in exchange for weekend work around the barn and paying for vet and farrier on the horse. I rode that horse for 3 1/2 years but still longed for one that was mine and that I had control over. Some friends knew of a very nice unstarted horse for sale so I bit the bullet and bought the horse. No regrets!!

                                    Shortly after that, I moved to yet another state and a somewhat bigger salary (although still not near a six figure income). Here, land prices are a lot cheaper so I fulfilled a life-long dream and bought a farm. So, I went from a crummy one bedroom apartment to a brick ranch on 12 acres. It's a lot of work but I bred two horses of my own so I'm now up to three (although one is for sale).

                                    So, if it's your passion, have patience. You can make it happen (although sometimes the old phrase of be careful what you wish for applies. )
                                    Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe


                                    • #19
                                      There are nice people with nice horses who need a hand from time to time. If you are a decent rider, find a new barn. Or as suggested, ask on the horseless riders topic.

                                      There was a gal at my old barn- nice, responsible and a solid horseless rider. She never had a shortage of nice horses to ride- for free! She rode mine on occasion- groomed her up, wiped down my tack and had fun. She eventually took on a lease, but I'll tell you, she always had one to ride before leasing. And she has gotten the ride on some rather fancy horses.

                                      Seriously- ask around. Adults frequently need an extra hand- and it is suprisingly hard to find someone trustworthy to hack your horse. If you were near me and could school my horse over a jump or two, I'd have you ride her once a week, no work beyond grooming and tacking her up required.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by fordtraktor View Post
                                        Go the private barn route.

                                        There are tons of people like me, amateurs with with too many horses at home -- nice horses -- and not enough time, who would love to have someone help us ride and pull manes. Heck, if you were good enough we would probably try to find a way to let you show if you'd help us out at shows. And many of us treat our horses like kings, that's why we don't have time to ride.

                                        Keep an eye open and think outside the big barn world. And if you're in NW Indiana, PM me.
                                        Ditto what they said, except I'm in NW PA and my barn isn't private.. but it's small and private feeling. Some retirees, some training projects horses, a couple local boarders, etc. Find someplace good where you are part of the "barn family" and not just being used!!

                                        I know that you want your own horse, but I think feeling included and part of things would also really change how you feel about the situation.
                                        2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com