I recently received an email from a woman that was looking to get into horses. She was given my contact information and it was suggested I could be a resource as someone she could ask questions of, learn from and maybe introduce her to some more contacts in the horse world. She had leased a horse several years ago and was thinking of doing so again with the long term goal of eventually owning 3-4 and keeping them at her place.
In part, here was my response to her initial message:
I actually have two tips given where you are at in this journey as you look for your next lease horse or even lesson program.
First, I would suggest to think about what you want out of it so that you will find the horse that best suits your goals. I see a lot of people want one thing and then go pick a horse that is completely wrong for the job they are asking them to do. It’s discouraging for horse and human. For example do you want to trail ride? Western Pleasure? Horse Shows? Have pretty horses to look at out your window? Having a solid picture in your mind helps navigate finding the right one. And I do believe there is a right horse out there for everyone, you just have find him or her.
Second, I would talk to a lot of people, visit a lot of farms, ride a lot of horses. Get as much information and as many perspectives as you possibly can. There are so many schools of thought when it comes to horse keeping and horse training and although it can be a bit overwhelming, don’t limit yourself to just one person’s philosophies. Figure out what is going to be best for you and your situation.
Here is what I didn’t say:
You have to love it. Not just the horse, but the whole messy lifestyle that comes with the horse. Riding is an ounce of what keeping horses actually is. It’s fixing fence, being outdoors no matter the weather, paying triple for hay because growing season was so hard on the farmers, late night vet calls, fixing fence, farrier visits, broken trucks, leaky trailers, poop, poop and more poop, snakes in the barn, fixing fence, it’s worry, less travel or separate vacations because you don’t have animal care, frozen water buckets, thrown shoes, mysterious lameness, fixing fence, boot sucking mud, heavy lifting, flies, gnats, mosquitoes, getting up early and staying up late, it’s dirty, hair covered clothes, worn out boots, saddle fit problems and money…so…much…money.
And it’s also:
A whinny in the morning when you step outside, partnership like no other, friends and community around a shared passion, it’s learning to communicate, it’s being in touch with nature and the changing seasons, it’s caring about something more than you care about yourself, it’s doing your best, it’s learning that grit and hard work are a good thing, it’s confidence, it’s leadership, it’s getting outside, it’s exercise, it’s self improvement, it’s fun. It’s that unmistakable scent when you put your nose up against their necks. And it’s so much more.
I didn’t tell her all that because it is a lot to say in an email. I also wasn’t sure how it would come off. I don’t want to discourage her. How much of that did I know before I started down this path? Would the knowing or not knowing have made a difference?
I ended my note with an offer to meet for coffee, even better to have her meet the herd when things dry out a bit. I hope she takes me up on it.