Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bad, Bad Horse Owner


                                                by Laura Crum

            I have not been an ambitious horse person lately. Quite frankly, I have been a lazy horse person. I feel a little bit guilty about it. I just haven’t been motivated. And I don’t mean too lazy to train and/or prepare for an event. I mean ride. I haven’t been motivated to ride much.
            I know that sounds sort of sacrilegious, but it’s true. I thought I’d write about it in the sneaking hope that a few others can relate, and might say so, thus making me feel a little less guilty. 
            I’m not sure why I feel this way. Or rather, there are a whole collection of reasons why I feel this way, but I can’t pinpoint the main one. Nothing bad has happened. I haven’t been hurt or scared, there have been no wrecks, the horses are sound and healthy. When I do ride (about once a week these days), I see lots of pretty things.


            Perhaps one reason for less riding is that my son is less motivated to ride with me. He is interested in other things these days more than riding. And certainly my riding life for the last thirteen years has been very much about riding with my kid. His horse, Henry, is 26, and has some arthritis issues in his hocks. Henry doesn’t really like climbing steep hills any more, though he is perfectly sound and quite free on level ground. My son will ride with me occasionally, and enjoys it, but he doesn’t ask to ride any more and often declines the offer of a trail ride. Still, we have had some nice rides this spring/summer. Here he gives Henry a breather/rest (one of many) on a steep bit of trail.


            I have been very absorbed in my garden projects, particularly my little pond/water garden. My inclination on a nice day is to fuss with the water plants and float in the pool rather than saddle up and ride down a dusty trail.  I’m just feeling lazy.



            I rationalize this by saying to myself that I have paid my dues. I spent twenty years training colts, riding virtually every day and competing almost every weekend. I have done stuff…I’m allowed to kick back now that I’m older. Hell… how many people have done this?



            And this?




            But I’m all too aware that plenty of gals my age are doing ambitious stuff—you know, like riding Tevis. I’m mildly jealous of all my internet friends of any age who are doing lots of cool, very ambitious horsey stuff despite the fact that they are, well—in an interesting condition, or as old as me, or have suffered an injury or illness, or are super busy with school or job or being a mom. I’m aware that I could get off my butt and get in shape and do more stuff. But I don’t want to.
            I recently spent a perfectly lovely day-- when I could very well have gone for a ride-- working in the garden, reading a book, floating in my pool, and turning horses out to graze. It worked for me. Worked for the horses, too, as far as I can tell. They seem to like being turned loose on the property as much as they like going for a ride. But there is still this small residual guilty feeling.


            Perhaps I will get into a more ambitious horsey mode again in the future—it has certainly happened before. I took five years off from riding (other than with my child in front of me in the saddle) when I had my baby, and then spent the last six years trail riding several days a week with my son. We covered lots of miles, did hundreds and hundreds of rides together, and saw a lot of lovely things.





            So who knows what the future holds, but that’s my question for today. Any other lazy horse people out there? And do you feel guilty about it?
           

                                                                       


14 comments:

Alison said...

You and I are kind of in the same mind these days. I still love my horses and give them the same level of care, but I haven't ridden in over a year. I keep telling myself that when it gets cool this fall, i will. But part of me knows come fall I will be too occupied with antiques and teaching. My friends who just moved to VA were avid competitors in eventing. Now they are gardening and training two dogs and only once in a while do they get wistful about not having horses at all. So don't feet weird--we are out there with you.

Laura Crum said...

Like you, Alison, I really love my horses--I hope I have horses to take care of all of my life. And I do still ride a little--once a week these days for a very short trail ride or to help gather the roping cattle is about it. I would REALLY miss having horses, though, if they weren't here with me. But I am spending most of my time with the garden and dogs these days, so in many ways I am like your friends.

Mindy said...

Wow . . . where to start? I've been feeling the same way lately, though not to do anything else really interesting. If I go to the barn after work not only am I tired, but it's right at feeding time. The horses have been out on grass all day and are in what we call a "grass coma", not really wanting to move at all. The mosquitoes are bad in early evening as well. I have to admit I'm a bit nervous about riding after what Lily went through on the 4th of July. A neighbor across the corn field spent two days setting off M-80 fireworks and our horses were scared to death - pacing, running in and out of their stalls, etc. Lily is still having issues - grabbing a bite of hay or grain then running back outside to stare across the cornfield. She's literally falling asleep on her feet (afraid to lie down?) The other day, she fell to her knees after falling asleep standing up. I tried riding but I can't get her anywhere near the cornfields. If you're at all familiar with the Midwest, we are literally surrounded by them. She spooks at every little noise. I'm not brave enough anymore to just "ride it out of her". So in addition to feeling guilty, I feel bad for her because she loves to be ridden - she was a working horse for many years, doing barrels and herding cattle. I'm hoping we can trailer out to forest preserves sometime this summer - maybe that will help. If the weather is decent this weekend, I'm going to try riding again, this time in other areas and maybe working slowly toward the cornfields. I feel like a big chicken, but she can spin so fast when she spooks at stuff, and I don't bounce like I used to! We'll see what happens . . .

Laura Crum said...

Mindy--I would feel just as you do, after what Lily went through. If you want my two cents worth, don't put any pressure on yourself. Ride when it feels right and you really want to--and if it feels better just to hang with Lily some days and not ride, then give yourself permission to do that, too. Lily definitely went through a traumatic experience and it makes sense to give her time.

Mindy said...

Thanks for the input, Laura. I really appreciate it! I feel the same way even though I've been trying to talk myself out of it. I've been spending a lot of time hanging out with her, just sitting next to her stall. Lots of brushing has a calming effect, too. She's pretty resilient, so I'm hoping she'll be okay. Keep your fingers crossed for us! =)

Jan said...

Not a bad horse owner at all. Just a different kind of horse owner than you are used to being. As you have already talked about in your blogs, there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to horses. What fit you in earlier horse years doesn't fit now.

Maybe one day a new horse will come into your life, or a new horse buddy, and that will make you want to do more. Then again you might want to not ride at all and just love them and care for them. I know many people, especially those that are not spring chickens anymore, that don't have any desire to ride but wouldn't give up their horses for anything.

After 30+ years of making a living in the horse industry I have no desire to spend all day, every day on a horse. I do still like to ride, but just moseying down a trail is all that I aspire to these days. And just the daily horse chores is enough of a horse fix for me a lot of the time.

I suspect your temperate climate is a factor in your riding decisions. You know that with some exceptions you can pretty much ride year-round. Those of us facing long, cold winters feel a different sense of urgency because we have a short window of good weather to enjoy. My friend that lives in Tucson feels the pressure to ride in their cooler months before summer heat makes it too miserable. So we have a certain amount of weather pressure to motivate us to ride. We don't want to regret wasting our limited good riding weather.


1sthorse said...

It is hard to admit this but I too have not felt like riding lately. Mostly it is because I am tired of fighting with my mare to make her go down the trail far enough away from the barn that she starts listening to me and I can't progress to trotting during my lessons. I am great at getting in my own way mentally!

It's sad because there have been some really beautiful, low humidity, low temp. days here in Missouri lately.

Kate said...

Sometimes I ride a lot, and sometimes I don't. Right now I'm feeling body sore, and old, and tired, so I'm riding less, but still enjoying the company of my equines on a daily basis. My horses are in all-day turnout, so they've got plenty of opportunity to move around, so I don't feel too guilty about it.

When I feel more motivated, I'll ride more. I'm no longer in the slightest interested in competitions of any sort, so it's just me and the equines, doing what we decide to do, and I like it that way.

TBDancer said...

Me! Me! Me! I haven't ridden on MONTHS except for the regular lesson I take (where I brush the big pieces off the horse, zizz the bridle path and neaten the mane a smidge, take him out of the paddock and load him up to haul 15 miles to ride). NOT the good student, but my instructor is kind enough to confine most of our work during the lesson to the walk and trot (out of deference to ME, sad sack of unfit mess that I am). I take the lesson because the instructor requires three riders to drive up to teach, and I am usually the third ride. I get semi-motivated when I read about riders and work the office at my dressage chapter's shows (we have four a year, two schooling, two one-star) but my motivation lasts until I get home and then the morning comes and instead of getting out to the barn and doing something -- even if it's wrong ;o) -- I sit at the computer, read my emails, work on my latest attempt at the Sub-Adequate American Short Story, and enjoy my coffee. I'm sure "Huey" would appreciate doing something besides turnout and eating. He's sound and happy and relatively fit. But it's all on me. My bad.

Laura Crum said...

Jan--Very true about the weather. I don't feel much pressure to ride in any particular season because we ride year round--except during winter storm cycles.

1st horse--That sounds frustrating, but I do know what you mean.

Kate--Thanks--I always gain a lot from your insights.

TBDancer--Yes, I can totally relate...

And, you know what--I think I jinxed myself. After saying that my horses were just fine, I took Sunny up to the roping arena to ride him today. And yes, he started out feeling good, sound, full of life. We did some trotting and loping in the big, freshly groomed arena, and he was 100%. And then, trotting--just TROTTING--down the long side, he stumbled, and I could immediately feel him give on the left front. And then he was lame, dead lame. I tied him up, after picking his feet, and let him rest, thinking he'd just tweaked himself. But two hours later there was no swelling and no injury and he was still dead lame. And was equally lame after I unloaded him at home. He's not so lame he can;'t move freely around his corral, but he is lame at the walk--which is pretty darn lame. Dang...

Kate said...

Hope Sunny feels better soon . . .

Laura Crum said...

Kate--Well you won't believe this--I didn't myself--but Sunny then proceeded to colic yesterday evening. I don't know if it was related to him being lame or not. I treated him with banamine and called the vet, and he seems to have come out of it--seems fine and not noticeably lame this morning. But yeah, not a good horse day yesterday...

Lori said...

Girl, I am so there. I've never made a living riding horses, but have spent many, many hours in the saddle over the years.
I've finally come to terms with the fact that I hate competition. I grew up showing open shows & 4-H, "Boots & Saddle" club, multiple disciplines. Barrels, Poles, Team Roping in hs/college. Tons, literally millions of miles, on the trail.
These days I have come to realize that "in the woods" on the trail is my happy place!
I've also realized, like others have mentioned, that I can get my horse fix from the daily chores of horse ownership. I'm a recent "new mom" first time with a foal on the ground at my own place. She'll be 3 weeks old Sunday.
I'm enjoying just enjoying them, however that may be. :)

Laura Crum said...

Thanks, Lori. Words of wisdom, there.