Can you still call yourself a horsewoman if you don’t own a horse? Or if you don’t ride anymore? On social media sites, there is usually room for just a short description and usually I’ve used something like Horsewoman, author, animal lover, book worm, chocolate addict, etc.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately, whether I can still call myself a Horsewoman, since my herd has dropped down to merely two donkeys. Previously, my equine career consisted of owning horses for 45 years, owning a successful saddle shop, competing in sports from barrel racing to cow penning, jumping to endurance riding, and logging literally hundreds of miles horseback up mountains, across streams, and through some of the most gorgeous country imaginable. Just remembering those moments makes my heart glad.
But what about now? I’m in my early sixties, and although I always imagined myself a galloping granny well into my seventies, in the last couple of years I’ve had some health problems which caused me to pretty much quit riding. I sold my nice paint horse because he wasn’t the kind who could take time off – he needed riding. I adopted another old horse and rode him a bit, but we ended up having to put him down last year. I had an empty barn for a few short months, and now my little donkey herd (Mr. Chocolate and Mr. Big) satisfies my need to feed, brush, and bond with a four-legged critter with hooves.
But we have acres of green pasture available, tons of woods and riding trails behind us, and the urge to get another horse is still ridiculously strong. The age-old dilemma of whether to listen to the head or the heart (just like in Natalie Keller Reinert’s new novella by that name) plays on and on inside me every. single. day.
My head says:
We live in an area where it rains for nine months out of the year, sometimes more.The expense and trouble of keeping a horse for maybe 2-3 months good trail riding weather is enormous.
I have no good riding buddies to ride out in the woods with anymore, and it’s foolish to take a horse out alone (at my age.)
It’s rare to find the type of horse that can sit for months at a time, and still be a good solid citizen when you do decide to ride him.
Although I do have friends older than me that still ride, another older friend just ended up in the hospital when her green mare acted up, and let’s face it, we don’t bounce like we used to.
My heart says:
The longing for a horse never ever goes away, and in fact, I’m sure I’ll go to the grave with that longing intact.
I started crying (yes, real big-time tears) when I walked through the horse barn at our county fair last week.
I’m crying as I write this because I just miss riding so darn much.
Horses have been a passion and defining force in my life of from the earliest age I can remember. I miss riding more than I can say in words, but I am happy I can still write about horses, and in fact I have a new book out on submission, about a time in the future when people have largely forgotten about the horse-human bond, except for one girl, who remembers. You’ll be among the first to know when I have good news on that one (which I hope is soon.)
I stay active in the horse world - keeping up with horseracing, the horse slaughter debate, the barefoot/shoes argument, the mustang removal/BLM controversy, and of course the world of equine fiction.
So my question to you is what actually defines being a horsewoman? Should I call myself a horsewoman, an ex-horsewoman (but that sounds so final LOL) or an armchair horsewoman? *grin*
And also, for those of you who are getting older, at what point do you foresee giving up riding? Know anyone like me, who has had to quit and misses it like crazy? How did they cope?