The Pacific Northwest is gray and rainy about eight to nine months out of the year. It’s pretty dreary weather, the type that makes you want to hole up inside a warm house in front of a fire and vegetate. This last winter and spring were particularly brutal. Just this week we had our first day over 75 degrees in 277 days. Ugh. It feels like I could count on one hand the sunny days we’re had since last fall.
Most of us just slog onward and deal with it.
Whenever I consider a life free of horses, I often think of two things: the above mentioned weather and my non-horsey friends.
You might wonder what the weather has to do with not owning horses. First of all, if I was a trail rider, this weather might be conducive to saving money by getting out of a hobby I can do only a few months out of the year (assuming I’m a fair weather trail rider). But my particular equine hobby is done in an arena and the weather doesn’t really play into it so why is the weather one of the reasons I keep paying out cash for the privilege of owning a four-legged money pit?
It’s as simple as this: First, dressage requires the horse and rider to be in shape. You really need to ride 4 to 5 times a week to do the sport and your horse justice. Second, when you’re shelling out all this money, you’re more likely to ride the horse, at least I am. So that brings me in a roundabout way to my point: If I didn’t have a dressage horse, I’d never venture outside nine-plus months of the year. I’d become a couch potato, put on even more weight, and live in a controlled inside environment. Even though it can be miserable and nasty, I’d never experience firsthand the changes in the weather, never learn to appreciate the winter, fall, and spring days.
And here’s where I come to the “non-horsey friends” part. I have lots of non-horsey friends. They stay inside during bad weather unless it’s to run from the parking lot to a store. They often don’t leave their couch. They get caught up in American Idol or The Bachelor or some other TV show that I rarely have the time to watch or even case to watch. They don’t get the perks of communing with nature or getting exercise. I actually feel sorry for them. They don’t know what they’re missing. Many of the women I know who ride regularly are in their 40s and 50s, yet not one of them looks that old. I’d like to think horses have a way of keeping us young with a little help from the elements and the physical exercise.
So every time I consider getting out of horses, I consider the obvious, which is I love horses. They’ve been a part of my life in some form since I was three years old. But above and beyond my love for the animals, I consider how sad it would be to rarely get outside, rarely brave the elements while bundled up and ready to ride. When I think of what I’d lose, I get out my checkbook and write another month’s check for board because the alternative would make me old before my time.