Life is all about balance – setting priorities. I realize that for many horse people their horses are number one, as evidenced by the many ecards shared and re-shared on Facebook warning potential mates to “love me, love my horse” and time and spending habits that heavily favor the equine. Sometimes I feel like the lone working wife and mom willingly to let her horse slide in favor of the family (please shout out in the comments if I’m not actually alone in this!).
A few confessions of this wife, mother, and crazy horse woman in my current stage of life:
I would choose my husband over my horse.
If it ever came down to it and my horse addiction was causing strife in my marriage, I would choose my husband over my horse. Period. I’m thankful that I have an understanding and supportive husband who does not begrudge me the time (and especially the money) spent on my horse. I do believe it’s easier for him to encourage my horse habit because he knows that he is my number one. He also came into our marriage fully aware of what he was getting in to. And he was happy that allowing me to get my horse meant he finally got that fancy guitar he’d been eyeing up for years (the tit-for-tat system is a REALLY good one when it comes to the horse and the marriage).
It’s a good week if I see my horse once, great if I make it out twice.
OK, I do feel a bit guilty about this one. Motherhood – and being a working mother in particular – has certainly changed the way I spend my time. Post-holiday-craziness, I’m trying to make sure that I get out and spend some quality time with my horse once a week. Once I get that established, I’m hoping to move up to more days.
I’m learning to set manageable goals that take it one step at a time, so I don’t constantly feel disappointed in myself. I’m also learning to make the time I do get with Ace really count. It helps me knowing that he gets good care at his boarding barn, and that some of my barn buddies keep an eye on him, feed him treats, and pick his hooves for me. He may be lacking in “mom” time, but he’s certainly getting to enjoy just being a horse right now. Also, the only thing that is suffering from lack of attention are his manners in the cross ties. The horse has the memory of an elephant and doesn’t forget a thing – so under saddle he acts like he’s getting ridden every day.
I have considered whether or not I should even keep my horse.
Paying full-care board on a horse I ride four times a month is pretty steep for our current financial situation. As I am just beginning this motherhood journey and fully intend to have more kids in the not-too-distant future, I figure it’s just going to get harder to work in my barn time. I feel guilty from time to time, in fairness to both our budget and to Ace.
Then I go out for my once a week ride and reconnect with Ace, get some exercise, enjoy the fresh air. I’m reminded why it’s worth it, even if it’s expensive and receives less of my time and attention than I would like. Knowing that I’m giving one horse a great home where he receives high-quality care is enough for me right now. It would break my heart to part with him. It would feel like giving up a member of my family.
I’m currently doing only the bare minimum.
I’m paying the board bill. I stop out once or twice a week to ride and/or check over Ace with my own eyes, and pick out his feet. When I ride, it’s a quick brush, a short warm up, a brief work, and a hack around the field to cool down. I don’t clean his tack afterwards. We don’t spend much time on manners or ground work. He’s been having an issue with the cross ties for a few months, and other than working on “head down” a few times during the tacking/untacking process, I haven’t addressed it and resort to tacking him in his stall, or ground-tied in the aisle (hey, my horse kinda ground ties, so that should count for something). I stop out to mess with appropriate blanketing when needed. It might actually be a bit above and beyond that I’m there for the trimmer once every 4-5 weeks, lead rope and check book in hand.
Does all of this make me less of a horse woman? Some would probably say yes. Would my life look different if I wasn’t juggling my horse plus a husband, a 9-month-old, a home, and a full-time job? Absolutely. Am I doing the best I can? You bet.
Am I enjoying every minute of the time I have with my husband, son, AND my horse? Unequivocally yes.
Your turn! Confessions about how YOU make your horse fit into YOUR life and priorities. Or, encouragement, sympathy, and babysitting offers always welcome.