So hopefully you read the previous post, How to Get Your Dad to Buy You a Horse. Life was simple then…get your Dad to buy you a horse, have him figure out where to keep it, then go ride whenever you can get dropped off at the pasture (this is easier than it sounds because you are talking parents having a teenager totally occupied and away for an entire day). Horse is cared for by pasture owner, and Dad foots the bill. This was a great system.
Forty years later, I decide it is time to start working on my bucket list. I now have 200 acres, 80 of which is beautiful Coastal Bermuda grass. I am getting a horse. Just the mention of this “yearning” to a friend of mine who has had 11 horses over the last 25 years and she says there is nothing more fun than horse shopping and when can we go. Now the clue here is “11 horses over 25 years”. Horse shopping is apparently addictive. Things quickly got out of hand. It’s the darn internet. You can actually find every and any kind of horse you could possibly want on the internet. Websites of horse “traders” with beautiful videos. I was doomed from the first click. Two weeks later we are on a flight to a remote part of Kentucky. Seems Kentucky has lots of gaited trail horses for sale. We visit two barns of beautiful horses. It is February and snowing. We are oblivious.
Now here is what I now know, that I did not before horse shopping in my late fifties. Just because you have owned a horse as a teenager, a horse you could do anything on and with (remember, my first horse came from a girl’s summer camp)…this does not mean you are the expert rider you think you are. Bomb-proof horses, teenage bones and confidence are a thing of the past. The universe has a funny way of letting you know your place. My place ended up being on the ground after a 4 year-old gelding threw me off when my heel crashed into his back girth (that turns out he was not accustomed to wearing) because he spooked and literally jumped sideways, slamming my leg into a tree and back into that girth. This could have been a true disaster. The side of my head hit a tree on the way down. Luckily, pumped with adrenaline, I jumped back up and on him and rode back. Maybe it was stubborn pride, but think it was being in shock. My friend who was riding with the owner behind me tells me that the owner had just commented on what a good, confident rider I was. Apparently that was just prior to the nightmare that unfolded. All ended up well…no concussion or broken bones and I learned a valuable lesson. I did end up with two horses from that Kentucky trip (can’t have just one horse…they’re herd animals!!). Probably bought them two young and inexperienced, but we’re learning together.
Turns out there are all kinds of articles, books, etc. that describe this phenomena of women in their 40’s to 60’s who never got over the love of horses and come back to it at an age when they can afford it and have more time to devote to it. They also have to basically learn all the things they were too young and naïve to worry about their first go round.
Has it been worth it? Absolutely. The learning is constant. We figured out how to fence, house and care for horses on our property. Two more have joined our herd, and they are bomb-proof and a little older and wiser. Four Horses. Yep.
One of the best parts has been learning about Natural Horsemanship and striving to provide my four guys with the best environment for them. The pleasure I get from learning their personalities and traits is pure therapy. I have gained true insight from a great book by Joe Camp, entitled “The Soul of a Horse”. If you love horses, it’s a must read.