Thursday, April 12, 2012

Horse Ownership & A Graphic

Mysti's scratches are healing and just about gone. The betadine and mixture of Desitin, Neosporin and Cortisone cream seemed to have done the job. Yay! 

The other night as I was spreading the ointment on her feet, freezing because my hair was damp from the rain, my sleeves wet from the hose, my nose sniffly and running, and my pants covered in mud and manure, it occurred to me: horses are so much frickin work!!

People don’t realize how much work horses are. In so many photos or movie scenes horse life looks so glamorous or adventurous.


Yup, just another glamourous day with a horse
{ via }
Which it can be sometimes….but it’s not all white breeches and shiny black boots and glossy, pristine tacked up horses all the time.

Its not super sexy most of the time either. Although Jilly Cooper's book begs to differ.

I read this explicit romance novel at an entirely inappropriate age when I found it left behind at the house we were staying at when on vacation. The cover was different - more horsey, less ass-grabby - otherwise I probably wouldn't have picked it up. I re-read it as an adult and found it much tamer than I remembered at 13. ha ha
Instead you spend about 80% of the time covered in dirt, sweating, breaking your back or banging your head with frustration, and maybe 20% looking really cool or glamorous or like life is just so easy with horses. 

Case in point, I just read a book where the character, as she was fixing up an old house, briefly thought (in a nutshell, not an exact quote), “Maybe I’ll get a couple of horses for the property. It would be nice to have some horses around”. And I went HA!!! Yeah it’s that easy. Horses aren’t any work at all and they're absolutely no bother. It takes no knowledge or the slightest bit of experience, it’ll be a piece of cake. Slap up a fence and life is full of rainbows *sarcasm* Granted it was a chicklit book, but still let’s have some semblance of reality in it!

The reality is: the amount of work and knowledge that goes into horse ownership is staggering.

I’ve learned more in this past year of horse ownership than I could even describe. I could write an encyclopedia and there are still so many things I don’t know (thus I’m thankful for a lot of my horsey mentors and good friends with years of horse experience under their belt).

I thought I knew a lot about horses before I got Mysti. I took riding lessons as a youth, worked at various small barns as a stall cleaner and exerciser through high school, and rode my friends horses in college and then after. I read horsey books and was subscribed to Horse Illustrated. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about horses and all their unique needs and special things. Find a good farrier, get a good vet, and things will come up but it will be okay. 

But then my dream came true of owning my “own” horse, I got my darling mare Mysti………and realized I was an idiot. My knowledge and experience barely skimmed the surface. 

It's been a real eye opener to realize how much you have to know when being a horse owner, versus a part-time leisure rider.  Not to mention the gravity of being the “decision maker” and the emotional toll of knowing that such a special, sensitive (expensive) animal is in your hands. 

And I’m not talking about the actual ground work training or riding aspect of being a horse owner (that’s a ton right there) but just the actual care of the horse that is demanding work. 

Its calculating feed rations and reading up on every vitamin and supplement to ensure that you’re giving enough, but not over supplementing. It’s measuring vitamins, soaking grain and stuffing hay nets and scrubbing feed buckets. Its figuring out the best way to clean, treat and wrap a leg wound all while your horses hops around and kicks away. It’s trying to get your horse to keep its dang foot in a bucket so you can soak a bloody abscess. It’s scraping bot fly eggs off, cleaning udders (or sheaths!) and cleaning goopy eyes.

It’s finding clever ways to disguise medicine in grain and going to 3 different grocery stores to find molasses. It’s laying in bed worrying that you chose the right course of treatment. Its googling until your eyes burn to find true and tried advice. It’s being elbow deep in diarrhea as you rinse out your horses tail and pick out chunks with your fingertips when it’s snowing outside. It’s noticing a weight gain or loss, a slight lameness, a sharp tooth, a bad habit forming.

Its picking out a hoof hunched over until your back aches. It’s calculating the best time to start blanketing and stitching rips and waterproofing. It’s conditioning manes, trimming bridle paths, scraping sweat, putting on coolers and lugging blankets to be repaired. It’s washing saddle pads and cleaning saddles and repairing tack. It’s being able to gauge by the smell if a hoof has thrush. Or to see if a swollen belly means you’re overdue on deworming. Its smearing ointment, picking scabs, shooing flies, wrapping owies, being stepped on, knocked aside and sneezed on.

Its time-consuming, life interuppting, dirty, messy, sweaty, stinky, itchy, hard work.

But you know what.....it’s totally worth it.

J

The loyal companionship, the friendship, the adventuring partnership and loving connection you get when you share your life with a horse is rewarding in ways that can’t really be put into words. The joy and love and excitement that comes with riding and caring for a horse is abundant. (It just comes with a lot of sweat and mud too. ha ha) 

So on nights like last night, when I locked up the stall gate to leave for the night, cold and hungry and tired, and I saw my food-obsessed girl left her full pail of grain and come walking up to the gate with a soft nicker of goodbye - it makes it all worthwhile. And to see her sweet face and gentle eyes watching me warms my heart and fills my spirit. She knows she is cared for and loved and I can feel the care and love back. (Even on days when she’s being a disobedient brat. Ha ha)  

So as I was mulling over all this, I created a poster that kinda sums up, to me, what being a horse owner is:




For all you horse owners and care takers out there

Would love to hear other's experience of horse ownership. What do you think it means to own a horse?

~ Kacy

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