lately. I love it when folks write in and try to respond to most of the emails. One email that arrived lately really struck a chord with me and I’ve been
pondering it over looking for an answer for the past few days. I think that part of the reason I keep thinking about it is because it’s my birthday today. It’s my 30thbirthday to be exact, so I can’t really pretend to be a kid anymore, even if, ahem, I look no older than a vivacious 21. Being 30 makes me
a genuine adult.
The emailed question was from a young female reader who asked, “I am riding hunter/jumpers and I love it, but I want my own horse more than anything. Got any suggestions to convince my
I can’t seem to put this question from my mind because I relate to this question on two levels. On one hand, I was this girl. I have been horse
crazy practically since my first memory. My parents tried to put me in ballet class, girl scouts and soccer league. I was never too interested in any of these
activities, and by age seven, I was finally old enough to enroll in riding lessons at the local stable. I loved it and the rest was history. The natural progression from riding lessons was, of course, that I began dreaming of a pony of my own. I dreamt about what the pony would look like, where we would go and
what we would do. I had an excellent imagination.
When I asked my parents to buy me a pony, the answer was always “no”. I kept asking though. I wasn’t hopeful of success after the first few
tries, but every Christmas, birthday and even Easter (the Easter Bunny was pretty generous at my house) every year I would ask for a pony. I accumulated quite an extensive collection of Breyer horses from these holidays. “Tricky parents! You know I meant a REAL pony!”
As I got older and taller, not much changed. I simply started asking for a horse instead of a pony. My parents’ answer was still the same. “No.” I rode at a nice lesson barn, and it was difficult, because new students would come in, and six months later, bingo bango, parents buy the kid a horse. Here I was, this nice, responsible, appreciative, honor student who had been riding much longer than and could ride much better than the girls who got horses
just like that!
By this time, I was also aware of the costs
associated with keeping horses. I knew it was very expensive, but I was miffed that my parents seemed a lot better off financially than many of the parents who bought their kids horses in the blink of an eye. My parents were not totally unsupportive in any sense. They paid for my riding lessons, horse shows, they leased me a couple of extremely nice horses and ponies and shuttled me to and
from the barn constantly in the family minivan. My parents were supportive of my riding, but were not interested in the commitment of actually owning a large sport animal. This is why they were much more comfortable with leasing. I also mucked stalls in exchange for riding the school horses and rode sale horses. I may not have owned a horse, but
I was not lacking for riding time. Still, it was hard to see all of the girls in the barn who owned their own horses when I didn’t, especially when it seemed
like some of them didn’t seem worthy or appreciative of what they had and how easy it was for them to get it.
So, on one level, I can empathize with the reader. I never owned my own horse until adulthood. Now, as a real life 30-year-old adult, I also have a secondary perspective on her letter, an adult rider and horse owner’s perspective.
When I was 17 or 18, I finally gave up and accepted the fact that my parents truly would never buy me a horse (that only took ten years; I’m tenacious). It made me sad, but it also made me set some goals and make some decisions. I knew I wanted to have access to one or more nice horses to ride and that I wanted to be an amateur rider, not a professional. I’m way too chicken to be a professional rider for starters! I also wanted to have the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do with the horse such as showing or taking lessons with a trainer. That probably meant that at some point, I would need to
buy a suitable horse and have plenty of financial resources available to acquire, care for, and have help training and improving my own riding on the
I decided that, if my parents weren’t going to
buy me a horse, I was going to make sure that
I could buy me a horse. This decision became one of the major motivations of my life and I made a long term plan. It burned like a fire inside of me. I decided that I needed to do extremely
well in college and to pick a degree program that would translate into a high paying, in-demand job. Over the next few years, I executed the plan by studying biological sciences, graduating at the top of my class and hiring on as a biotech sales rep. I have owned horses for most of my adult life. I bought them myself. I take full responsibility for them, including paying their many bills and making decsions about their care. I think I appreciate the privilege of having them more because I worked for
the privilege myself instead of having my parents do it for me. This might make me sound like an old fogy, but the experience was character building.
So, to the reader, you cannot convince your parents to buy you a horse if they do not want to be convinced. Perhaps they will decide that they
are willing and able to buy you a horse, and if they do, that’s great. However, owning your own horse is not a right, it’s a privilege and also a tremendous
responsibility. If your parents buy the horse, then the horse becomes their responsibility, not yours. If they don’t want the responsibility of owning a horse (like my parents didn’t), you should not hold it against them. There are many other ways that you can advance your riding and knowledge in the
hunter/jumper sport without owning a horse. If you do that over the years and still have the desire to own a horse, then harness your passion and desire. Use it to make a plan that will allow you to make the dream of horse ownership happen for yourself instead of waiting for someone else to make it happen for you. When you choose this approach, you can not only have a horse of your own. You can use your passion for horses to create many other personal accomplishments along the way to your goal. That is the advice I can give as a horseless, horse crazy girl turned horse owning adult.