Spoiler: very few horses got worked.
Horses have been a part of my life in one form or another for as long as I can remember, from my childhood obsession to my driving force as a teenager-turning-adult to my life career track, whether directly or indirectly. I am “that horse person” at social gatherings; I can’t imagine my life not containing horses.
But as much as that “horse girl” persona has become part of my identity, like most human beings, I am much, much more than a horse person. And as much as I cherish the time I spend in the barn every day, there are never enough hours in the day to do everything I want to (and as much as I try to convince my body it doesn’t need sleep, roughly a third of my life is spent conked out from going too hard while the sun’s up — what a tragic waste of hours).
There are many horse people who are horse people through and through, the folks who couldn’t dream of letting a beautiful day pass them by without spending part of it in the saddle, who celebrate the fact that they have no other passion other than their equines. I raise a glass to folks, and I’m happy for you that you’ve found your calling.
But as much as my life has truly been built around horses, there are also mountains to be hiked, lakes and rivers to be paddled, family and friends to see, bonfires to be burned, gardens to be weeded and vegetables to be picked (lord help me, I know I planted way too many cucumbers again).
I drove my draft team on Saturday morning; my husband and I saddled some horses and went for a slow ambling trail ride around the pastures last night. The rest of my long weekend was spent between hosting a picnic, visiting family, canoeing the lake and the river, hiking a state park with a friend from out of state and finding creative ways to keep the chipmunks from digging up my perennial bed this year. I went to the barn every day to feed my horses, check them over, count their shoes and pay them some attention — but three whole days went by without a training ride on my green horse.
And at least for me, that mental break — for both of us, me and the horse — means we’ll come back stronger this week, focused and ready to work, approaching the nuances of shifting shoulder and hip and learning to bend with fresh, rested muscles and minds. A few years ago, to let three whole glorious riding days pass me by would have been a cardinal sin, a waste of training opportunity and lost time that can never be recovered — but now, I see these days away as a gift, an opportunity to refresh and enjoy all the things that my life has to offer from a peaceful evening paddle on a glassy lake to laughter and love with family and friends around a bonfire on a clear late-spring night.
My life may have been shaped by horses, but horses are not my entire life. And I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.