I confess to having divided loyalties between horses and motorbikes, and thinking deeply again the last few weeks about horse ownership.
It all started when one of my friends mentioned that she had been looking for her next horse on Craig’s List. She said there were a lot of good trail horses out there, and she was tempted to get another one. I thought about that for a while, and the next time I sat down with my laptop, I remembered what she’d said.
After sorting through many ads, most of which showed me again how many people really have no idea what they are doing when it comes to horses, I found a great little horse. What really caught my eye was the expression on his face in one of the photos provided by the owner. I thought, that horse is smart, he is thinking while he is looking at the person taking that photo.
The horse’s name is Jak, he is an eight-year-old bay Arabian gelding, and in the photo he was standing at the edge of a rocky part on a trail. That told me that he was calm enough to be on a trail, and in another photo, he was being used as a packhorse on what looked like a hunting trip, amazing since this guy is only 14.3 hands. In yet another photo, he looked more spirited, showing me that he could be calm when you need him to be but he has enough “spirit” to be enjoyable. I sighed. I love that horse, I thought, but there is NO WAY I am buying a horse.
As you know, I grew up with Arabians, and that is what I would want if I ever got another horse. I have heard all the comments: “That is a suicide horse,” “they are too spooky,” “they are crazy.” But Arabians are what I am used to, and still what I would prefer.
Luckily, I went on vacation the day after looking for horses on CL, so I left town and was on my motorbike for the next week. I found myself still thinking about Jak, though. As I rode my motorbike, many wild dreams flitted through my head, even when I should have been paying more attention to what I was doing. I was thinking about how much fun it would be to go trail riding with my friends on my own horse. Then there was the dream about maybe he would even be good enough to show in western pleasure classes in Arabian shows! I could take him and train him up as I had with my gray gelding, Dom, who became a champion. Jak could be the next chapter in my “horse saga,” a chapter that I hoped was still to be written.
Like I said, wild, improbable dreams.
Soon, I returned from vacation, and came back down to Earth. I didn’t even go on Craig’s List for a few days, and when I did, I could not find Jak anymore. Duh, I thought, a good horse isn’t going to last long. I told myself it’s just as well, I didn’t want to have to choose between horses and motorbikes, because the reality is if I own a horse, the expense is so much greater than owning bikes. It’s not just throw some fuel in, ride it, and then let it sit until I feel like taking it out next time. Horses need constant attention and care.
For now, my friend lets me come over and ride her horses with her. She says they don’t get ridden enough because she has three and can’t ride them often enough. I am “helping” her by riding them. Great! I will take that opportunity and enjoy it. Every Saturday morning I drive over to her house, we groom and tack the horses, ride for about an hour, and then clean up. We will get to ride longer when the weather cools off, but for now I am very happy with being able to do this!
Today I rode her horse named Snickers. Before this week, I rode Benny, a 20+ year-old gelding who moved very slowly. He is nice, and I like him. Riding Snickers was fun today, too, although I had to be more “on alert” because he was looking at everything. I thought he might spook at a couple of things, but I kept talking to him and he was a good boy, too.
Right now, I want my horse life back, but the question is how far do I go to get it? Is it too late? Will I be satisfied with riding other people’s horses? Will I be satisfied not training up a horse for me to succeed with? That was one of the things I loved most when I rode as a teenager – the sense of achievement and accomplishment that I got from working with a horse that could have languished indefinitely hidden in a dark barn. I made him into “something” from “nothing.”
However, given the amount of time that has passed since those wonderful days, maybe it’s best to accept that my “ride” now has two wheels instead of four legs. In my mind, though, it’s still up for debate.