Monday, September 28, 2009

So Why do we do it????

I start most days with feeding and caring for my horses with remainder of the day revolved around teaching, training, exercising, grooming and the health care of the horses under my charge. Sometimes I wonder why I do it. We all know that the life choice of horse ownership is not an easy one. In addition to the loads of physical work, there is the endless commitment – rain or shine – and the always looming potential for heartbreak. Colic, lameness, and injuries – I am sure that all of us have endured many of these situations. Plus there is the financial commitment that is ever growing. I once added up the percentage of my disposal income that went to horse stuff rather than luxuries like vacations, new clothes (non horse related), jewelry, and new vehicles (other than horse trailers) and well, lets just say I chose to never do it again.

So why do we do it? Are we all a little nuts? Perhaps, but we are also all a little healthier for it. I can’t speak for anyone else but I can tell you that I can’t imagine my life without being covered in horse slobber. For me the simple act of kissing one of my horses on the nose puts my life in balance and the world in better perspective. In spite of the increasing loss of open space, Southern California boasts some of the highest per capita horse ownership in the United States. Why do you suppose that is??? Even if you are lucky like I am to own a small bit (4 acres) of horse property, horse ownership in Southern California is not a cheap proposition. Rates for board in many suburban areas are as high as $700 to $800 a month and that does not count training, veterinary cost, or any of the extras. I have had horses come into my barn for rehab from an injury or after colic surgery where their owners continue to spend thousands of dollars on an animal that may not survive long term or that they may never be able to ride again. Why? It certainly does not make sound financial sense. My answer is – it is for the simple miracle of unconditional love.

In today’s overly busy, overly competitive world of personal agendas our horses simply love us with a purity that mere humans can rarely find elsewhere (except with our dogs and cats). I feel that we now live in a world that puts endless demands on us. Someone always wants something. Some one is trying to sell us something; we are trying to balance professional lives with family and personal commitments; we are trying to balance finances; keep our households running and somewhere in there find a little bit of time for ourselves. There are so many details to every minute of the day; we spend half of our time on sensory overload. But when you have a horse, for me at least, everything slows down and gets simpler for the time you spend riding or just being in the barn, and being in the company of your horse. You focus in that moment on only a few things, your horse, your ride, the beauty of the day, your tack, your stall, the smell of horse sweat (yes, I am a little weird, I like the smell of horse sweat) but it is all very basic compared to the other complexities of our day.

And our horses primarily have one focus – us as either the deliverer of food, attention and a good scratch. But it brings us all back to those rudimentary basics of food, warmth, and shelter which is truly all our horses ever expect from us. I also think that this return to the fundamentals help keep most horse owners more grounded. Face it, most humans have egos that can run a muck and easily distance us from reality. We can easily build over inflated senses of our selves and forget that is not just about what we achieve for ourselves that matters but it is more about the lives that we touch along the way. Horses don’t care who we are or how important we may think we are. They just care if we are kind and provide them with their basic needs. Horses are also not judgmental and have an amazing capacity for forgiveness. Both of which are traits that are sorely lacking in many people.

So in my opinion, horse people may be a little bit crazy to the rest of the world, but I actually think we “get it” better than most. We know that by staying in the company of horses we can stay in touch with the basics and with the benevolent traits that are often lost in human nature - unconditional love, forgiveness, and openness.

What keeps you committed? What is it about your relationship with your horses that keep you coming back for more? What basic human need do horses fill and what are the greatest gifts we all derive from it? I look forward to your input. Whether you compete or have horses for pleasure, professional or amateur, beginner and someone with years of experience; I think that we all come to it and take from it the same basic element – Love.

What do you think??

Terri Rocovich

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