Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What About Me?: When mom wants a turn to ride.

Elizabeth on Sabrina with me on Toby.
I spend an absurd amount of time and energy supporting my daughter's equine passion.  Is it wrong that I want to have some fun along the way?  A major reason she has my support is that I had the same desire as a kid that she has now.  I would have given anything to have had a horse and to have been able to ride everyday.  I would have given even more to have been in Pony Club.  My own riding experience is fairly limited.  As a teenager I took lessons at a hunter barn in California whenever I had enough money from babysitting to pay for them.  I didn't ride at all through college and then in my late 20's, after my oldest son was born, I started taking lessons once a week at a hunter barn here in Massachusetts.  I loved it!  But then I had two more children and I just didn't have the time for my expensive hobby.  I tried several times to get my husband on board with my horse fantasy but it didn't happen.  So now that I am providing all of this for my daughter, there are days I selfishly wish it was me in the saddle.

I know quite a few moms who have been riding all their lives.  Their daughters discovered horses through their mothers and it was only a matter of time before they were both riding.  Many of these women now keep their horses at home.  Horses have always been a priority for them so when they realized there was a need to support more than one horse, they built barns.  Oh how I wish 15 years ago when we left the city I had opted for land and bucolic bliss over suburban convenience.  I'm now stuck in the town we live in until my kids graduate from high school so putting horses in my back yard is not an option.

If having horses in your backyard is an option, it's a great way to make riding more accessible for multiple family members.  With horses at home you save money on board and have the convenience of being able to ride whenever you want (unless it's winter 6 months of the year and you live in New England with no indoor).  Just having Elizabeth's horse at home would mean she could ride while I cook dinner!  But beware!  Having horses at home is a huge commitment.  I won't go into all the gory details but just a few of the things I've discovered one needs to consider when keeping horses at home are enough to put most people off.  Among them are manure management, insurance, never ever being able to go away or paying an extra $1000 for barn help to be away for the weekend, being the one to wake up to feed the horses 365 days a year and the one to do night check the same number of days no matter the weather, state of your health or other things going on in your life.  Perhaps at this point it is just as well that I can't have horses at home since I'm pretty sure I'd be in over my head!

Elizabeth on Pumba with me on Nugget.
For the past couple of years Elizabeth was riding ponies, first leased ponies then the pony we bought  for her.  During that time I had the good fortune to half lease a couple of different horses so that I did get a chance to ride a bit.  Every time I felt like I was getting somewhere, the owner would make a change and I would be without a horse again.  I am incredibly grateful that before that happened this last time I was able to go on a couple of trail rides with my daughter.  Those were the best days of my life.  Half leasing is a good option.  The cost isn't too horrendous and has a limit unlike ownership.  I was riding 2 days a week which should cost about 1/3 of the board for the horse.  Lessons cost money over and above this so it wasn't exactly a cheap option but it was appropriate for me with regards to both time and money.

When we bought Elizabeth's horse last fall my husband assumed we would share the horse.  I know a couple of other moms who are looking for horses to share with their kids.  And my two cents on this topic is that is doesn't work, at least not for us.  It certainly can work depending on your goals.  For our family, we have chosen to support Elizabeth's riding goals.  Those goals are pretty lofty and require her to ride often.  Our horse works 6 times a week.  We try to have our trainer ride her once a week which leaves 5 rides for Elizabeth and me to split up.  Well, if I'm lucky, I can have one.  And that is definitely the way it should be.  Quizz is Elizabeth's horse.  This is Elizabeth's sport.  They need to work hard in order to be ready for Pony Club certifications and horse trials.

My favorite view - of my daughter on her pony
 through the ears of an awesome horse!
So where does that leave me?  Horseless.  I've tried to talk my husband into buying me a horse but
since my daughter's horse has had so many issues - expensive issues - I don't think he will ever be willing to own two horses.  The most I can hope for is that another horse will come along with an owner willing to lease him or her out a couple of days a week.  Some day, when Elizabeth needs an upper level horse and Quizz has finished doing her job with Elizabeth, I will have my turn.  Quizz and I will live out our twilight years on the trail together.  Until then I will get my horse fix living through my daughter - watching, trailering, grooming and paying.


  1. Hope you find the perfect lease situation soon! Your daughter is lucky to have a mom who loves horses too. Growing up, my mom supported my riding by schlepping me to weekly lessons but she didn't really know much about horses herself. I am lucky now that I've infected my fiance with the horse bug!