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Re-evaluating your horsey involvement

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  • Re-evaluating your horsey involvement

    Seems like we all go through cycles in our horsey/equestrian life. I think I'm in a bit of a valley. The last few years have been riddled with personal/family challenges, and my horsey/riding life has been the same.

    I finally have a great trainer and access to nice horses. But I have zero desire. And that almost makes me feel a little guilty, or like, what the heck is wrong with me?!

    The recent episode with my mare coming back from lease totally emaciated and neglected was like the nail in the coffin!

    I'm also finding I have anxiety about horses, not while I'm riding or at the barn, but other random times. My son has some significant special needs and I worry about who would care for him if something happened to me and I was laid up.

    I recently quit teaching my beginner lessons, and my mare is in the care of a very good friend. I've taken a few lessons and have the option to lease a nice horse, but really don't have much drive to do so.

    I have considered maybe taking a looooong break, then re-entering in a different capacity. I suddenly realize what all the middle aged trail riders in western saddles find appealing-- spending a couple hours a week on a fat little QH sounds like more of a good time than anything else right now.

    I've honestly never taken a full-on break from horses. Anyone done so? Or gone through periods of disinterest/disillusionment?

    Perhaps I should have posted under an alter but pshh who cares.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

  • #2
    First can I just say I would be livid if my horse came back from a lease like that, ugh!

    I haven't really wanted to take a long hiatus from riding, but I can see where you're coming from with the disinterest aspect. I work off my board as well as work an almost full-time job, so after working a full day, feeding the farm, and sometimes teaching lessons/giving tours/working other horses, the last thing I want to do is ride mine. I recently had to take an honest look at my week and decide a few days off from the barn because I was getting to the point of not wanting to ride or be at the barn at all.

    I wasn't very good at it though because one of those days I began volunteering at a therapeutic riding barn... I couldn't escape the barn atmosphere, but I did find a new passion! Now I'm working toward my therapy riding instructor certification. Volunteering is a great change of pace in my week and keeps me in a horsey atmosphere while still keeping things fresh. I would also suggest talking to your trainer about your concerns; maybe s/he can offer ideas for different disciplines or events that will keep things interesting. I've known people who have changed disciplines (e.g. jumper to dressage) because they worry about what would happen if they sustained a serious injury and couldn't care for their children; I would assume this is something your trainer may have discussed with another client at some point. But if you really just want to take a break, take a break! Maybe what you need is just a relaxing trail once a week.

    Good luck with it!


    • #3
      Thanks for the thread, FG. I'm in a similar boat. Life & equine injuries have prevented me from competing like I really want to. Since I'm early in my (job) career, I've been dedicating myself to that career through all these changes these past few years and wonder if I should just continue with that and get back into horses when I'm more "settled".

      With that in mind, when my show horse drastically injured himself 9 months ago, and was on stall rest, I stopped riding. I have two retirees, one of which is still rideable, but I haven't put a saddle on him at all. Now that the show horse is healed, I have him at home and really no desire to ride. Right now I'm using the excuse of "my SO's away from home for work until July, so no one is around to call 911." Valid excuse, but I've ridden by myself a lot and it's never been a huge deterrent. It's more of lack of motivation.

      So it's going on 9 months since I've been in a saddle. However, I'm now getting uber jealous when I see my horsey facebook friends posting photos from their winnings at horse shows, so that may be motivation to get back into it in a few weeks once my SO comes back and I can ride at home again.
      I don't know if I could ever get out of it entirely, but I have 3 horses that aren't going anywhere until they manage successful suicide attempts. So they won't let me "get out of" the horse world. But I could definitely go to just keeping my kids in the fields at home and riding maybe once a week, if that, tooling around the backyard.


      • #4
        Flash, thanks so much for starting this thread.

        You're not alone.

        I gave my horse away last week. He needed more work than I was equipped for, both time-wise and money-wise. I knew in the back of my head (and heart) in March when he bucked me off that it was time for me to take a serious step back and evaluate what I wanted out of my horse hobby. A few days lafter the unplanned dismount, I was in a car accident. My back is just now getting to the point that it doesn't hurt every single day and I just can't afford to get in another crash, horse or otherwise. I work full time, have two very active teenagers, and MrBlueMoon is trying to get his own business off the ground, and I just can't be laid up with another injury.

        Once I admitted to myself that it was time to take a break, I talked to MrBlueMoon and he was fully supportive. Telling my barn mates was difficult, but they were all also extremely supportive of my decision. I still work at the barn one day a week, just so I can be around the horses and my friends.

        I tell ya.... it's like the weight of the world came off my shoulders when my horse left. I was sad for about half a day, and I allowed myself to mourn a little bit. But, now I'm glad that I faced the decision and I'm satisfied with the outcome.

        There will be time later on when the kids are grown to be a horse owner again, but right now I'm just enjoying loving on the horses I take care of on Saturdays.
        Alis volat propriis.


        • Original Poster

          Well at least I am not alone... though sorry to hear you guys are in the same boat!

          It's just a balancing act, I guess. If I were at this barn, with these trainer, and these horses 10 years ago.... shoot, where would I be now? Probably a hell of a lot further along than I am now. But at this point in time, I don't have the energy, time or money to pursue things as I once would have liked to I guess.

          Not to mention, with the way costs are going up around here, I will soon be priced out of horse ownership completely. Board and hay just keep going up and up and with kids and a very small business, even "cheap" board is expensive.

          I am thankful my mare is in a safe place with a friend, and I can go visit her whenever I want. For now, maybe that is all the horse involvement I need!
          We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


          • #6
            I'm really sorry about your mare and the horrible lease situation -- that's a lot of strain and stress on your heart to have to go through, on top of everything else you have going on in your life.

            I go through re-evaluations similar to what you are describing *frequently,* like probably once every month or two. I'm in one now, actually. I have taken several long breaks from riding as a result of these "valleys." I've regretted all of them, because I inevitably start riding again, and when I do I'm older, fatter, rustier and generally further behind than when I quit. My limitations are less financial than talent-related and time-related at this point in my life, although the financial pressure is there too. I feel like the proverbial idiot who keeps beating her head against the same wall, fruitlessly expecting something to change. Fortunately I have a horse that I just love to pieces -- she makes me laugh all the time. I just wonder if it wouldn't be better if I just became the non-riding type of owner and just let my trainer ride and show her without my interference. Then I could focus exclusively on what I do well, which is working and making money.

            I also have a tendency to think of riding and horses as an all-or-nothing game, which it seems from others I see that it doesn't really have to be. I think sometimes it's OK to enjoy hanging out with horses, grooming, just existing with them once a week or so, rather than striving to become a better rider or achieve things while making massive sacrifices to do so.

            The other good thing is that it's not like gymnastics or something where there's an extremely limited window in which you can do it. So closing the door for now doesn't have to mean forever -- walking away isn't a permanent decision.

            Sorry if this is a little bit of a ramble, but I do relate and get where you're coming from. Good luck!!


            • #7
              FG you are not alone. If you feel like you want a break, take a break. It doesn't do you or the horse any good to ride if you're not enjoying it. Its not like your horse is hanging out in the pasture thinking "I should be doing Biq Eq if only she'd put more work into it'.

              They're happy with good care and, yes, some of them enjoy having a job and the attention that goes with it, but none of them know or care if they're only hacking out on trails when they have the talent to do the GP jumpers.

              Just do what you enjoy at this time and point in your life, and don't let anyone else determine what should/could/would be the best way for you to enjoy a horse. That includes taking a break or even walking away completely if it becomes just another source of stress for you.
              Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
              Witherun Farm


              • #8
                I quit horse for two years after my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I was relieved, although sad to sell my horse. He went to one of my best friends, my vet's wife, so it was as perfect a new home as I could imagine, but I still felt sad about it. I just couldn't be all things to all people, and animals, at that time. Like you, I felt a huge weight lifted.

                Two years later, though, I bought another horse. An easy, sweet, kind Paint gelding who was game to try anything I wanted to try, but who didn't care if I just came out and groomed him...he was the same if it was a day or a month since I last rode, and yes, he ended his career as my trail horse. I'm lucky enough to live where we have amazing trails in beautiful mountains, and there's nothing more therapeutic and stress-relieving than riding a good horse with good friends in a beautiful setting.

                What's that saying about you can have it all, just maybe not all at the same time?


                • #9
                  You know, I think it's fine to take a total and complete break if situations/feelings/finances/other obligations warrant it. Who would ever tell you it's not OK?

                  I have been feeling guilty that I don't feel like riding for the past week. Mr. OR and I split up last week. I've been going to the barn to groom and hand graze but that's about all I have the energy for. My horse is otherwise well cared for. We are going to try counseling and I hope it works.
                  What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


                  • #10
                    Sorry things horse are not in the cards for you now, with all else in your life.
                    Realizing that and coming to terms with it and making whatever needs to happen happen, that is what will get you back in balance and bring you out of your funk with life.

                    When everything drags you down, be proactive, as you are already coming here to look for alternatives.

                    I finally sold my project horse, my health keeps having bump after bump and he needed more work that I could or wanted to put in him.
                    I just have left here, under my care, two older nice ones that, while they appreciate anything we may do, are fine also just keeping each other company.

                    In this drought now the third year, without cattle to look after horseback, there is not much reason to ride other than to train and that, there are days I am not quite up to that with a young horse that still needs regular training.

                    We can only do what makes sense we do.
                    Better realize that and arrange our lives for that, even if it is not what we would want to do or hoped to do.
                    Life is all about changes, so what if right now you have to accommodate some changes that are not what you would like to happen.
                    Maybe down the road you will find again another way to work with horses as you wish.

                    Hope your kid will be ok.


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by Bluey View Post

                      We can only do what makes sense we do.
                      Better realize that and arrange our lives for that, even if it is not what we would want to do or hoped to do.
                      Life is all about changes, so what if right now you have to accommodate some changes that are not what you would like to happen.
                      Maybe down the road you will find again another way to work with horses as you wish.
                      This is so true, thank you.

                      OR, I hope things turn out positively, one way or another, for you. Hugs to you.
                      We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                      • #12
                        I'm just getting back into riding after a 3-4 year hiatus. I lost my mare, had a baby, and put my young gelding's training on the back burner for awhile. I did keep him, but he stayed at my parents farm and I didn't do much more than groom, farrier, vet, and occasionally longe him. I think a part of me gave up for awhile when my mare died and the drive wasn't there any more to work with my gelding.

                        I'm back at it again, though. Gelding has just come home from the trainer's and I'm back in the saddle. I wasn't sure if I'd ever seriously get back into riding again, but it feels like the right time. I think I need that time to myself right now.

                        There's nothing wrong with taking a break; or even getting out permanently if need be. There are always ways to get your horse fix and stay somewhat in the loop without actually having the responsibility of owning a horse.

                        Best of luck with whatever you decide.


                        • #13
                          I feel ya. I have sucked as a horse person for the last 2 years actually. I really do have the desire to ride and be involved but it seems like various components of life keep getting in the way.

                          I'm blessed to have my horse in a great place. She's happy and healthy. I just lack the time to really get back into it the way I used to be.

                          It's funny...not even 5 years ago, I rode several horses per day. And I remember getting in arguments with guys I dated about taking a vacay and missing time as I was in training! Now? I can't even tell you the last time I rode. I do see my horse, but I have not ridden in forever.
                          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                          Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                          • #14
                            Oh my, I went through that back in 2005 or 2006? Zero desire to do anything horse related, zip nada. I know my trainer thought I had gone off the deep end (and said as much then and pretty recently LOL!!). It was like I went AWOL. I spent a few years like that then just fell into grooming for a summer then the braiding thing happened, now I go to shows half the year every weekend to braid, am active in the local Arab clubs and shows, get to hang out and cheer on friends, and am planning on buying a superfly half Arab when I finish my Masters. I may start riding next year if I lose all the weight I have packed on since getting all non-smoking and lazy


                            • #15
                              haven't read through all these & gotta get some sleep, but I wanted to share my 5-6 year hiatus.

                              I was not without a horse, but without a rideable horse. My old show horse had COPD that we managed for several years, then developed a HUGE bladder stone. She was buried in the back pasture a few years ago. I missed the horses terribly but not having to see her in such bad shape anymore was - as others have stated - a huge weight off my shoulders. There comes a time when the horse stuff just gets too heavy. A break is not necessarily a bad thing at all.

                              I just got back into this with an unexpected horse who happens to be really nice. I hate that I am not fit and solid enough to do her justice. The mare's arrival has not been without issue and I'm not excited about buying new saddle(s) to fit her and me but whatever. At this season of my life, the new mare is like medicine....really good medicine. 5 years ago, she wouldn't have been anything other than another horse bill.

                              Don't feel guilty if you take a break. I was talking to our neighbor earlier tonight while the blacksmith shod his teensie QH all the way around. Horse is ridden at best every other week on LONG trail rides by the 250 lb. neighbor - who is always in some state of intoxication. While I don't subscribe to his way of riding, etc. he LOVES that horse and enjoys the he!! out of him just walking along in his big ol' Barcolounger Western saddle, hanging out and camping with his buddies. Point - there are 100 different ways til Sunday to enjoy horse life. Given what you've recently gone through, I can imagine a break would be warranted...and then if/when you decide to get back into it, don't feel like you have to dive into the deep end. There ain't NOTHING wrong with sitting on the edge, catching some rays, and just putting your feet in the water.

                              Best wishes!!


                              • #16
                                I empathize. I never thought I would say this, but I was thinking today that if I cannot find a really nice boarding stable, really soon now, without drama and without my having to worry about my horse or whose toes I accidentally and inadvertently may be stepping upon, it may be the end of my 50+ year involvement with horses. I love my horse, am blessed to have her, but the things I have to put up with in order to board her someplace are really annoying.
                                RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                                • #17
                                  Riding is supposed to be fun. If you feel like taking a break or giving it up all together, you should do that. It is an expensive, inconvenient, time consuming, sometimes dangerous activity. For me, riding and having horses is not worth it unless you love it and it makes you happy.


                                  • #18
                                    Yup, you're not alone, it's okay. I took a break when I started college -- just after I bought a nice yearling half-Arab Pinto. It was about 9 years before I got back into it, but I had to wait until my life was more stable and I could afford to do lessons. And yes, I started that horse at age 10! He was fine to start, but a PITA to load, and kept getting injured . . . which is why I got Alex.

                                    I'm in the middle of my second hiatus. Not total, as I still have 8 horses, but it's been 2 years since I last rode. I got so fed up with saddle fit issues and soundness issues and then I got hurt twice in a six-week time frame (both horse related) . . . and it all snowballed together along with other personal issues.

                                    I look at them in the pasture, all fat and sassy and happy (except Scrappy, who is fighting something we can't figure out), and I feel guilty for not riding, but I'm not a person who is ever happy "just riding." I have to be training for something and I'm not in a place right now where that's possible. So I don't ride.


                                    • #19
                                      I took several years off after I went through Blush's lameness stuff. I boarded Blush at a barn I trusted and showed up once a month to pay board and pet her. I really needed some time and space after all of the energy, effort and money I spent, only to have her go lame again. It was especially difficult because of the wonderful 6 months I got when she WAS sound.

                                      I got to the point where I wondered if horses would really be a part of my life going forward. Last spring, I decided I really needed something more, and jumped right back in to the horse thing. Now I've got two more and the CANTER program to occupy my time. It feels good to be back. But I really needed some time away for awhile.

                                      There's nothing wrong with stepping back for a while. You can step back in when it feels right and you find yourself *needing* it again.


                                      • #20
                                        June 4 was the third anniversary of the last time I rode. At least it was G's Dinky and I got to do my last ride in style.

                                        I am not ready to hang it up permanently, but I get really frustrated at how expensive it is to get good care and how hard it is to find truly professional, competent horse people. I hate feeling like I have to know almost as much as a vet, farrier, equine nutritionist, etc., to know whether the pros I'm paying are actually doing their jobs.

                                        I think having the right horse and feeling like you have a trustworthy, competent team of pros makes all the difference, but even so, owning a horse and riding demands a lot of mental energy at times, and sometimes it's really stressful and not at all rewarding.

                                        I think taking a break can be a really good thing though. It can allow you to pursue other interests you were too busy/too poor for when you were doing the horse thing, and it can give you a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment that is different from what you get doing the horse thing. Sometimes you learn things about yourself that you wouldn't really have otherwise.

                                        Good luck figuring out your path.
                                        Full-time bargain hunter.