Thursday, July 2, 2020

Horses are Hard


I think, in a lot of ways, 2020 has been an absolute rollercoaster for almost everyone I know. Lots of particularly... heavy stuff has been floating around, and while I did my best to rise above, I admittedly have been treading water for a while.

Owning horses is... hard.

I recognize first hand that owning them is a privilege that few are bestowed. In fact, I personally know of at least several kids who would sell their soul just for the chance to ride - never-mind owning 3 of their very own horses. I am well aware of just how lucky I am to have what I have, and to be where I am.

That being said, it is not to say that it doesn't come with it's own struggles, because it does. Living in an area that does not particularly cater to horses or horse ownership in general is tough. There are no boarding barns (nearby). There are no vets. Critical and urgent care is non-existent - which means any furthering of diagnostics is a 5+ hour trailer ride, and you better hope your horse can make the trip. And if they can't? Well...

This all being said, the lack of vet care in this area isn't necessarily a deal-breaker in owning horses here - most of the equestrian community is very hands on and helpful, which makes it that much easier to handle things when disaster strikes amongst individuals. And believe me when I say, several of us could be vet techs with the amount of knowledge and vast array of education we've obtained from years of doing this on our own. These are good people to have on your side, and even better when they come running at a moments notice. Still, it is certainly time consuming, exceptionally costly, and gut wrenching when you have to make that 10 hour haul, especially coming home with bad news like I did in April.

Still, despite having several gigantic fucking curveballs thrown my way I rose up and dealt with it. Up until a month or so ago, I felt okay - that I could weather the storm and gather the pieces where they may lay. But the fall-out from each and every curveball is beginning to seep deep into my veins and I'm struggling to be as motivated or as happy as I have been in the past. And that's not to say I am neglectful or lazy when it comes to overall care and consideration for my animals, because I still go through the motions of ownership and riding as per usual. However, I'm really struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Going through the motions of relocating the horses, setting up a safe and secure paddock, being given a devastating diagnosis for my yearling, and now, a potentially career-minimizing (or ending) issue with Annie and I'm pretty fucking tapped.

Struggling to see the point of investing blood, sweat, and tears into a lifestyle that maybe isn't actually meant for me.

And it's not to say that I don't love horses, because I do. I enjoy my time with them immensely. But when push comes to shove, I am overwhelmed with emotions and struggling to find traction on solid ground. The instant I manage to get somewhere, I look up, and see yet another mountain to climb.

I am tired of fighting so hard to keep things chugging along when they threaten to fall apart at a moments notice.

And if I'm being completely honest?

Horses are not fun for me right now.

Being around them and spending time with them brings me happiness, but the questionable future of 2/3 of my horses is really, really fucking hard. I don't have all the answers yet, and although there is a sliver of me that remains hopeful, I am also just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So I guess, aside from the incredibly massive pity party I'm throwing myself on the interwebs, did any of you feel similarly? Did you ever take a step back from horse ownership/riding - what was that like and how did you get back into it (if ever)? What kept you going amidst the struggles?

There are few things that break me, but 2020 has cut me open and split me in half.

27 comments:

  1. Ughhhhh oh no, what heartbreaking news :( I have no answers, but no matter what decision you make, I would not fault you for it, what a tough year. Hugs and more hugs <3

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    1. Still awaiting some diagnostics to be done before we make any conclusive decisions, but the reality is that this could be very heartbreaking for me. I am hoping for the best, but realistically, am preparing for the worst.

      Your support means so much to me, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it beyond words.

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  2. I think you know I'm 110% with you. Also, that it's sometimes a good thing to back away a little bit and visit the things outside horses that bring you joy. I'm still crossing fingers hard that your lovely mares have the best possible prognosis/recoveries♥️

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    1. Your support has meant so much to me, you have no idea. I am so thankful I have someone to bounce ideas off of - I'll let you know when we have more affirmative information. Trying to keep afloat, but I am getting tired <3

      Love you and this blogging community beyond words.

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  3. Ugh, it's the worst feeling wondering if the lifestyle, hobby, and passion you've become so ingrained in is really what you want anymore. I was really in that place last year after Stampede's death and selling Maestro, and I still think it sometimes now. At times it's just not fun or easy or cheap and it can get lonely too. Yet when I'm on a nice horse cantering around the world all makes sense again and I can't quit. <3 Best of luck with everything, I hope things turn around for you. Always happy to chat if you need to vent.

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    1. It's really tough.
      And no one really talks about it.
      I try hard not to be that "woe is me" person, but 2020 has been really fucking hard.

      I appreciate your support so much.

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  4. This entry resonated with me. Everyone keeps asking me when I'll get another horse. While I miss my boys terribly, I frankly do not miss actually owning horses. It's expensive and hard on the good days, and downright devastating on the bad days. I'm sorry your are not enjoying having horses right now. I feel for you...

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    1. I feel like it's something we need to talk about more, because I feel so fricken guilty about these emotions.

      I KNOW how lucky I am, and I understand how lucky I am, but it just really sucks sometimes.

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    2. I agree that we need to normalize these conversations. Burn out is so common in the horse world and I think it's partly because we're made to feel like we're not committed enough if we need to step back for a while. Horse keeping is intense and you can't healthily run at that pace 24/7 for years on end without the ability to just breathe when you need to.

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  5. So sorry to hear this 💔 owning horses is so flipping hard. I have definitely gone through periods where my heart just is not in it -- the horses get taken care of adequately but I just don't feel that connection or peace around them, or motivation to ride or improve. I try to be gentle with myself in those times and remember for everything there is a season... I'm sorry you're in a tough season right now. Thinking of you.

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    1. I appreciate the support and love - it can be so overwhelming and frustrating when all you are doing is putting out fires 24/7. There is also the financial aspect of it, which is really putting me thru the ringer :(
      It's just... not fun. Not fun at all.

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  6. Really sorry you are going through this right now, taking a break is always an option. Healing takes time.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words - it'll take a bit of time and reflection to ultimately decide what I want to do, but something's gotta give...

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  7. The highs with horses can be so fantastic. Sadly the lows can be so devastating. And sometimes it seems like you just can't catch a break. I fear this is what you are going through at the moment and send you hugs. It really sucks when the amount of work, money and time that you put into them seemingly doesn't have any chance of rewards.

    When my horse was euthanized 14 years ago it was after a couple of years of struggling with laminitis. I didn't have it in me to to do anything with horses for about 3 years - I didn't read about them, I didn't watch them on TV, and only visited a friend and her horse a couple of times. But I kept all my stuff, just in case I decided to start again.

    Sure enough, I started to get the itch again. And it's never left since. Taking a break allowed me to do some things I never had time for, but it also allowed me to realize where my passion truly was.

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    1. Thank you for sharing - I appreciate the honesty and transparency. It can be so frustrating trying so hard to make it work when things just keep falling apart :(

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  8. I know I posted but my internet has been weird so maybe it didn’t go through. I am so sorry to hear about Annie. That sucks. We know how devastating horses can be. They are expensive and more than just pets - we also want to ride and do things. That makes it extra hard. It’s ok to take some time away and regroup. 2020 has been a shit year so far.

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    1. I appreciate the kind words. 2020 has been a real tough one :(

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  9. I've felt the same way about horses and I've questioned my future as an owner for sure. Happy to chat about it with you if you ever want to reach out... It is so hard to balance the costs, the care, the ups and downs, etc. and hard to know where to go with it all. 2020 has been shit all around, so it's ok to have these feelings and take some time to sit with it all.

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    1. Thank you Laura, I just might take you up on that!

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  10. I'm so sorry to hear you are dealing with something with Annie too now (or maybe have been for a while and I missed reading about it, I'm sorry if that's the case). Horses can be so heartbreaking, and it's hard when we don't want them just for companionship but also have goals and dreams with them... not to mention the time and money put into horses. Hugs!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Jessica.
      No, I haven't blogged about Annie's issues aside from this post.
      We're headed to the vet this weekend, so once I get more of a definitive diagnosis I'll update.

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  11. I am so, so sorry to hear this. Having recently entered the world of ownership and management, I have no words of wisdom or experience for you on this struggle. It sounds like, while incredibly devastating, you've got your head in a level place as you assess and consider things going forward. So many unknowns and hurdles amidst a really shitty year really fucking sucks. If we lived closer, I'd come over with bottles (yes, plural) of wine to make things less painful for a time. <3

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    1. <3
      I often think of how LUCKY we are to do what we do. To have these animals to call our own.

      I often think of how amazing it would be if they were actually HOME and not in someone else's backyard. How wonderful would that be.

      The reality is tho, that the grind don't stop. And I'm just burnt out.

      <3

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  12. So sorry you're having to get through all of this! It's so hard. I've struggled through one thing after another the past several years, so I kind of understand where you're at. I had three injured horses in January. Covid gave me the chance to step back for a few weeks, and now I'm feeling better about horses again. You need to do what's going to be best for your own well being. If that's taking a step back, that's perfectly okay. Don't be afraid to make decisions based on what other people might think. Do what you need to.
    Sometimes it helps just to let it out and know that you're not alone. I know horses are a part of you, and in normal times bring you happiness. Sometimes we have to weather a few storms to get back there. You'll know if pushing through those storms is right for you or not.

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    1. Gah, 2020 sure put you thru the ringer too.

      I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do, and whether or not that means muddling through this shit storm or not. Just trying to keep pace for now.

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  13. OMG I missed this blog post. I hope something happens that is a miracle for you.

    I took a few years off from horses when we lived in Houston (Well i rode at a lesson barn but didnt have a horse) and then up in DE. Then I found Remus and the rest is history....but I am hoping you start feeling better. Take care of yourself. Hugs to you and to Annie and all. UGH I really hope something can be done Annie is so fantastic....I cant even comprehend the shit you have been handed :( Hugs...

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    1. I appreciate you taking the time to comment with your own story!
      I feel like horses are part of my identity, but at the same time... wow... what a struggle it has been.

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