Some of us will never outgrow the “I love horses” stage…but some of us will.
I lived in a horse community for over a year and could count on one hand how many different riders I actually saw riding their horse. Day after day as I drove or rode through the neighborhood I saw horses,…sometimes a single horse, sometimes two or three pasture buddies. Some living in nice horse facilities, some had no shelter from the sun, rain or wind. Some of the horses had no fly masks, their heads were hanging low, tails swishing at the flies that were biting at their bellies. It would seem that most of these horses are never ridden and I found myself constantly wondering “why do some people own horses when they don’t ride or even get outside to spend time with them and care for them? Horses in these types of situations are sadly referred to as “pasture ornaments” and unfortunately you can find this in all horse communities, everywhere.
On one particular morning I headed out on a much needed ride on my Morgan gelding, an equally much needed cool breeze picked up and I started thinking about how things change over time and along with that, how people and their interests change. I know my life certainly has changed from 10 years ago, even 5 years ago. 10 years ago I was riding with my husband and a group of gals, our horses were all boarded together. We’d see each other almost every day, we’d ride several times a week and we would be gone for hours. Great times were had both on and off the horses and we always looked forward to the next ride.
“Life Happened” and things changed. Mackie and I moved to the country and took our two Morgan mares “Gitana and Shiloh.” It was about 40 miles from the old riding spot so those group rides came to an end. Other things changed within the group. Another move, injuries, health issues, personal relationships changed and with those changes came changes in interests, and for many of the women in the group, as time went on, riding came to an end.
When Mackie received his diagnosis in 2013 we owned 6 Morgan mares. Knowing what we were facing in the coming months, we had to make many painful decisions and one of them was what would be best for our Morgan herd. As heart breaking as it was, realistically I knew that I could not do right by all 6 of them on my own. The decision was made to sell 3 of the Morgan mares. Shiloh fortunately went to a close friend and stayed local, Weepago went to Texas and Cicatriz went to Canada.
Through all of the changes, and there have been a lot, the one thing that never changed was my “I Love Horses” stage and my love, passion and need for riding. I can’t imagine letting life get so in the way that I no longer have the desire to prioritize my time to get out and ride. Some people plan their rides around “stuff.” I plan “stuff” around my rides. I think for some people it’s like going to the gym. If you get sick, go on vacation or anything unexpected comes up and you can’t ride (or workout) for a week or two, for some people it can be very difficult to get back in the saddle, back to your routine of riding. For some it seems to be easier to think of reasons why you can’t ride, rather than think of ways to get out and ride.
Life is always going to “happen” because of circumstances. Sometimes these circumstances are completely out of our control and sometimes they are not. If you are blessed enough to own a horse, you are the steward of that horse.
Stewardship: “The conducting, supervising or managing of something: especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”
As Life Happens, and it always does, YOUR wants, needs, desires or personal situation may change, but the needs of your horse do not. Regardless of if you have lost interest and stopped riding, can physically no longer ride or even if you have never ridden your horse, your horse’s needs don’t change because yours do. Proper nutrition, shelter from the elements, routine dental work, routine hoof trims, fly control, clean fresh water and DAILY EXERCISE (even if it is hand walking) are all essential for the health of your horse .
Benefits of daily exercise for your horse:
- Improves functioning of heart and lungs
- Aids motility of the digestive tract
- Facilitates and maintains proper bone and hoof development
- Improves the immune system
- Increases stamina and endurance
- Tones and improves functioning of muscles, tendons and ligaments
- Increases clearance of secretions from lungs
- Increases resistance to disease
- Helps prevent behavioral problems associated with confinement
- Keeps your horse mentally alert resulting in quicker reflexes and better coordination
If you are not able to provide your horse with the care it requires and deserves, don’t you owe it to your horse to find someone who can? And if you are able but just not willing, and are allowing “life to get in the way,” therefore failing in your Equine Stewardship responsibilities, don’t you owe it to your horse to make a change?
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