I lost my horse last week. And it has been devastating. I owned him for fourteen years and his long list of ailments and this horrible winter sadly led to the worrying deterioration of his health and his nearly twenty three year old bones were suffering.
Making The Hardest Decision
So I had to make the kindest but toughest decision to send him on his way. The last two weeks particularly have been awful and I knew it was going to be hard but it has been such an upsetting process in preparing to say goodbye to the horse that I adored. However, I am lucky to have had so much support and kind messages during this time which has been a real comfort. I have also had one question that has been put to me in volume – and that is “are you buying another horse?” The answer is no.
I have gone over and over this thought actually for a few years now, so this is not an instant decision I have made. If you take a horse or any animal into old age you will be faced with decisions over their health and their end of life. I made a decision a couple of years ago that when I would be faced with losing my horse that I would not go into horse ownership again. I am now at that sad time because I have lost him and I still feel the same.
Life Without Owning A Horse
So why? There are quite a few reasons which put together strengthens my decision to not own a horse again. Now I love horses and I love all aspects of riding them to looking after them. I love shopping for them and I love pampering them. So why am I not continuing this love with another horse? I have a combination of reasons which confirms my decision to leave the equine ownership club.
I really don’t totally trust the process of buying a horse and trying to find the horse that is right for you. It actually is a pretty stressful decision and costs a lot of money! I see so many horses for sale through the internet and read many horror stories of horses with huge problems being sold with misguided truths about how suitable a horse is. I know there are very genuine people selling horses but it is quite a job to find them. I also do not want to deal with a young horse again. They need time, dedication and in some cases nerves of steel. I don’t have that anymore. If you want a schoolmaster that has seen and done it, they are inherently older and I don’t want to go through having an ageing horse again.
I also think hacking out has changed beyond recognition in the last decade. When I first had my horse, you could ride out on our country lanes and see five cars within the hour. Now it’s twenty five cars and they are speeding with no thought in passing with care these days. To be taking out a younger horse that is protesting in traffic or objecting to a crisp packet in a hedge, just doesn’t rock my boat anymore! Perhaps it’s my age? Slipping towards to half a century perhaps I have lost my nerve the older I’ve got? I just don’t have the inclination to take on a younger horse and traffic proof it together with the time you need to give with this training.
This leads to time. I think to take on a new horse needs a lot of your time. I truly believe that a horse takes at least a year to get to know you and you the same. If you have your horse at livery, it’s potentially visiting twice a day which is normally a car drive. Factor in mucking out, rug sorting, feeding, turning in and out, grooming, tacking up and then getting out to ride amounts to hours! I have struggled with time and the juggling act having horses brings, especially recently. I would then feel guilty that I was not giving my horse the time he deserved. To have a break from that actually will be welcome after all these years.
My last and main reason is that I simply cannot replace my horse. He is irreplaceable and no horse can match up to him. I worry that I would be disappointed and constantly comparing a new horse to the kind and gentle horse that I had. This may sound a silly reason but at the moment, that’s how I feel. I know it’s early days but I do tend to stand by my decisions. I also could not go through the heartache again that I have endured these last couple of months. I know this would fade and perhaps this is why I have felt the need to write this post.
Loving Equestrian Life
However, I am not leaving equestrian life! I love it. I am lucky that I have been offered horses to ride that are suitable for what I want and fortunate have years on their side so I can have an easier hack out. So I am planning to get back in the saddle but without the huge commitment. I love equestrian sport and I will continue to follow it with interest and go to the events that I find thrilling to visit. I am lucky to work within the equestrian industry which I enjoy. So I really have no reason to stop enjoying equestrian life just because I do not own a horse. I will continue embracing aspects of all things equine without being a horse owner. And that is fine too.
by Samantha Hobden
Founder of Haynet
In loving memory of Zeb 1995 – 2018