Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tough questions

In less than two weeks I'll lose my riding partner and only boarder.

And I am sad about it. She's moving to Colorado to take a great job. It's a fabulous opportunity for her and I'm happy for her, but I'll miss the heck out of her and her horse and miss having someone to ride with regularly.

I've ridden by myself for years, and I know I can go back to riding by myself, but I've been spoiled by having a regular riding partner and training friend. You know those days when you know you should go out and ride, and you really want to ride, but somehow the day gets away from you and night falls and suddenly, another day went by and you didn't ride?

There haven't been many of those days since Jaquie has been around, showing up with her infectious smile and suggesting a long, much-needed ride. I'm afraid there will be too many of those non-riding days when she leaves. My daughter isn't as enthusiastic about riding as she once was and convincing her to go out riding with me is sometimes more of a chore than a pleasure, so I skip it. If I force her to ride with me, she complains the entire time, which makes the ride miserable and her miserable and turns my riding time into torture and regret.

I don't know of any riding groups in my area. I don't really have very many horse friends that do much trail riding and certainly none I can partner with for a few fun shows this spring/summer, so, I probably won't be doing any of that this year.

So I start asking myself: Why do I ride? Why do I spend so much time and money and effort keeping horses at home? Well, because I love the horses and I love riding and I love just watching them. I love seeing them first thing in the morning and burying my face into their necks in the evening. I even enjoy riding alone from time to time. But not all the time. When it comes down to it, I get the most pleasure and satisfaction when I have someone to ride with regularly, someone I can share my passion with. Because it's not just about being on a horse, it's about the company, the companionship, the conversation and the hours in the saddle just enjoying life.

I'm going to miss the hell out of that.

It also makes me question the wisdom of keeping a farm and keeping my horses at home. If I'm the only one riding, why do I have a farm and horse property? It's not cheap and it's certainly not always a walk in the park. And why the hell do I have five horses? Doesn't it make more sense to sell the place, sell all the "excess" horses and board Gabe somewhere where I'll have someone to ride with and significantly reduce the expense of horsekeeping?

All these questions, and so far, no real answers. I am, however, actively trying to sell three of the "extras." They aren't being ridden, they are just standing around doing nothing but eating and would be better off somewhere where they will be used. And, they'll be off my feed, vet, and farrier bill.


  1. I'm sure it's a better financial decision to board one horse (or even two) and buy/rent a city house, but it still sucks. I've had a hard time trying to get out to ride, even though there are people I can ride with out there. The thing that keeps me going is having a goal to achieve, like you mentioned.

    I don't know. It's a tough situation.

  2. I'm struggling to maintain my farm, and I ride alone 99% of the time now that my boarder is gone. Do I wish I had the perfect riding companion for me and a friend for Val? Yes, often. The joy of having him here 24/7 outweighs the other issues though.

    Maybe once you have resolved the situation with your other horses you will see things differently. :D

    Hugs to you and Gabe!

  3. Oh Jenn, I'm so sorry to hear this...and sorrier still to hear you questioning your choice of lifestyle. No one can answer those questions for you, but I do hope you take your time, and do a lot of soul-searching before you make such a huge decision that could very well impact the remainder of your life. I so understand your dilemma. I've been there and asked myself those very same questions so many times before. In fact, I'm pretty much in the exact same position. Although my husband does ride, we rarely do anymore. When we do, it's almost always in the short warm, dry months; you know, when there's so many other things that have to get done? We have 5 horses, are getting another one this weekend, and I'm seriously questioning our sanity. We don't have much $ at all left over after expenses, and we're always working. But, bottom line is I just can't imagine not having these horses in our lives. I also think that all the work that goes along with keeping them at home, does keep us more active, healthier and I ask myself, what else would we be doing in the evenings? We already spend far too much time in front of the tv. I've had horses kept off property before, and all I remember was how much I dreamed about the day when they'd live on our own little farm with us. Now we have that, and it's not as rosy as I once thought it would be. Horses are expensive, they're a lot of hard work, so many other things go by the wayside because we spend all our extra money on them, but we get so much day to day enjoyment out of just being with them, caring for them, watching them interact in the pasture. I can't imagine not having that in my life to take for granted. Hard choices. Valid questions you're asking. But, please take your time. I will keep you in my prayers and who knows, maybe another riding buddy will come along sooner than you think. I hope so! Big hugs to you my friend!

  4. Hard choices, but it'll work out either way. Give it some time to settle as you consider and decide. I actually prefer riding alone in the arena, although I like company on the trail, mainly for safety. But it is nice to have people around the barn to talk to and just see on a regular basis, so I can certainly understand. Best wishes to you as you think these things over.

  5. I was nodding my head and agreeing with you as I read your post. I can so identify with you on so many counts. Coming up with answers is tough... and I wish you luck. All I know is that once I have decided on a course of action, I generally feel better for having at least made a decision! I hope that is true for you, too.

  6. I really don't want to move, I love my farm, it's my little piece of Paradise, but financially, it's tough. I love having my horses in the backyard and being fully responsible for their care, but I also have to wonder realistically if it wouldn't be smarter (financially) to just board. Then, I look at boarding costs in this area and I shudder. I don't know yet and I hate being in that "I don't know yet" stage. Ugh. I'm hoping that reducing the herd will reduce my stress levels and ease up on the budget more than a little.

    I've determined that I'm going to actively try to find people to ride with on occasion, instead of just feeling sorry for myself. I've reached out to a fellow rider who lives not too far from me and we're going to set a date for March to get together, I've volunteered to judge some local shows this spring/summer (exposure and networking are never bad, right?) and, I'm going to start giving riding lessons again. I think I'm also going to put some feelers out this spring (once I get my own herd reduced) to find a pasture boarder or two. I don't know about that yet, though. Jacquie was kind of a special deal because she's a good friend and we are so very similar in our horsekeeping practices/methods.