Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summertime Mare

You know what - I'm really not sure why I post these boring posts.....but I really love writing - helps me get my thoughts together. Now, why I feel like it's worth posting to blogger vs. just typing up and deleting? Or just staying in a file on my computer? Eh...I don't know. I guess it's fun to share your thoughts, even if they are one-sided.

Arabee's been 24/7 pastured. Not sure how I feel about that. On one hand - it's super easy - turn her out, she has plenty of roughage (good for horses) access to fresh water and a shelter. She's around other animals (goats, and cow/calf pairs). Actually, she's been really sticking around the cows, and I REALLY hope she picks up on their calm demeanor. I've seen Quarter Horses who live with Arabians begin to act very arab-like....you know, more reactive, higher-headed, trot more floaty, do the tail over the back thing - it's quite comical, really to see how hard they try to be like their friends. Peer pressure, I guess? lol

But, anyway....the drawback for her to being out on pasture 24/7 is that I have seen her scratches begin to come back, and she's bug-bitten. Though, her feet look beautiful!

She looks soooo pretty and sleek! I really desperately crave spending more time with her, and riding her. And it's mutual. The other day, I walked out from the house and called out to her, and she walked eagerly up to me. I offered her a scratch, then started walking for the barn - she came along as if I had haltered her and had a lead rope. She didn't want to leave when I turned her back out, either.

But - and I'm not complaining here, honest!!! I am so amazingly blessed: garden is coming up BEAUTIFULLY (though it takes work to keep it that way), my flower beds around the house are really coming together, my children are growing in amazing ways: Cora can write her name (mostly...she has some trouble with the 'R'....she's 3.5 years), Luke is running, walking, climbing, learning new words to say all the time - he's 1.5 years. I feel like I can never keep the house clean enough to be comfortable - though thank God we have one - I can't stop thinking about Joplin, or parts of Alabama where the tornadoes destroyed so many homes.....completely DESTROYED them....Anyway, and I gotta feed my family - though I really enjoy cooking - it's become a fun creative outlet for me. So all these commitments require my presence. (it's so nice to be NEEDED!) :-) My husband is so hard-working, working full-time off-farm, and during the summer months nearly full-time on-farm. It's just, and I think some parents are different, but....I just can't see letting my kids run around while I groom Arabee, especially not during fly season! And that's just grooming, not to mention actually tacking up and going for a ride! So, I need to have my husband available to watch the kids if I want horse-time. And right now, in this season....that AIN'T happenin'!!

I keep wracking my brain to try to think of a way to make things work out so I can work with (play with) Arabee, because I firmly believe "If you really want to do something, you'll find a way to make it happen" but I think I am just in a season of life right now as a stay at home mom of two young children who's married to a part-time farmer (and believe me, I am incredibly, amazingly blessed to be that woman!!!!) that I can't truly let horse-time be a priority, no matter how much I may want to. It's getting closer to where Matt will be able to take both kids along with him when he's farming - Cora's ready, but Luke just....we'll - he's 1.5!! Kids do foolish things, and need supervision to keep them safe around farms and horses. Things Luke thinks are fun: climbing on the tractor and pulling all the levers, poking the dog in the eye, standing in mud-holes that go partway up his shins (and let's be honest....when you're on a farm....mud isn't always just pure mud....more of a mud/manure mix!) - anyway.....the point is that the boy must always be within sight to prevent him from incurring bodily injury right now. And that's ok! He's a little boy and he won't stay little long. I'm working hard to remind myself of this - my children are so precious, and won't stay small and innocent for long, it would be foolish of me to resent their need for supervision, rather, I need to cherish this time with them. I have the rest of my life to pursue horse things, and in the mean-time, if I get a spare hour or so, sure I can run out and try some horse-time, and I can cherish that time, too, if it comes. But I don't need to force it.

To all you high school girls who are horse-crazy, consider this carefully: Before you decide to buy the horse of your dreams while you're in high school, try really hard to get your horse time some other way. There are many out there who aren't being ridden that you could probably borrow. I know, true - there's nothing quite the same as having your own horse that you can bond with. Believe me, I know! And it is a special, special thing. But honey - you're in high school - no actual responsibilities (I know, easy to say looking back...but it really is a different ballgame when it's you not your parents doing the house payment, the grocery shopping, the meal prep, the car maintenance....Thank you, Mom and Dad!!!) sure you have time for horses now! But you're life is about to change beyond what you can imagine. College of some sort, whether it's beauty school, or a 4-year degree, or whatever, then choosing and securing a career, maybe getting married, maybe having children.....who knows. I sure had no clue! And horses live a very long time, and are very EXPENSIVE to keep. Just, just think about it long and hard - will you be fair to yourself and your horse if you buy one in high school? You can buy a lot of riding lessons with the money it takes to buy a horse, and maintain one.

Here's a brief re-cap of Arabee's history: Born in 1997. Purchased by me in 2000. Shown in 4-H and Class A Arabian shows after I broke her to saddle myself - we had a blast! In Fall of 2003 I went to college, went on a trail ride with Arabee where I was unseated and got a compression fracture in my spine, and got my confidence shaken, besides that I only saw my horse on the weekends, occasionally. Pretty mare was rarely ridden for 3 years. In 2005 I was married and we moved the horses to the farm, where she again, was rarely ridden until the fall of 2008, when I started riding again after my daughter was almost a year old. Started training for an LD in 2009, when that was siderailed for my pregnancy and her injury to the hoof/coronet. Started training again in winter 2009, for an LD IN 2010, when that was sidetracked by the reality of life with toddlers and a farm. Here we are, 2011. Mare in the pasture, me only dreaming of riding. I think I've just described a somewhat common scenario, different in the details - but basically a horse that while it is well cared for, it doesn't have a job. Wrong, no. Ideal? I don't think so. I think horses like to have a job. I also think they like to eat grass and get fat, although they make a mighty expensive pet.

You know, I'm not saying that it was a mistake for me to have Arabee. I'm glad I do! I just wonder how things would be different now. Maybe I wouldn't feel so guilty: When-I-Ride, because I'm not taking care of my family, and When-I-Don't-Ride, because I'm not taking care of my horse. How does a horse-crazy momma choose?


Beth said...

I don't have a family yet of my own, and I'm floating between college. But, I'm such a horse person that I'm planning my next college move to be based on horses. This means I will get to take my boy with me. He's been such an unexpected surprise ever since day 1, almost 7 years ago, and he's taught me a lot.
I've learned that I get my horse time by incorporating him into my work around the place, if I can't go riding. I can have him help me do things that, yes, I could do on my own, such as picking up sticks, but it's nice to have some help pulling away those bigger pieces, or carrying more in baskets at a time than I can carry in my arms. And, it's good fun time, as you can look at it as horse time and training, rather than farm work.

It's all about figuring out where and how to overlap the two. If Arabee is a calmer horse, maybe you could start giving your daughter a few lessons on riding and/or taking care of a horse.

Nicole said...

Those are all great ideas for someone with older children. Maybe I'm just paranoid - but I just don't feel confident having my toddlers within 20 feet of my horse unless there's someone there to be ready to grab them, should the need arise. Both (horses and toddlers) are unpredictable. My horse is capable of inflicting EXTREME harm upon my children, by merely spooking sideways and it would be unintentional, yes - but still devastating. Cora's big enough now that she's safe - she knows better than to just run up to Arabee, but Luke is too young to really grasp that.

I am so, so, so excited to be able to share Arabee with Cora. That is really my only horse-related goal for the summer. But even that, I have to have someone to watch my son.

Very soon, I'll be able to start doing more things, Luke's really not TOO far off from being big enough to allow me to do more without having to keep one eye on him at all times.

I'm glad you're able to incorporate horses into your life - I think it's totally POSSIBLE, and you're proving that. I just think that time period between high school/college/transitioning to being on your own, and/or married, and/or starting a family is SO unpredictable. I can assure you, I never imagined my life being as it is currently when I got Arabee. I would NOT change it for the world, but it is different than I had pictured it :-)

Ellen said...

Where's Grandma?

Anonymous said...

I was in your boat not that long ago. After going off to college, my parents sold my horse without even asking me. After finishing college I got married and moved to IL. I wasn't there long until I found someone in the church we went to who had 5 horses at a barn a few miles from their house. The barn had an apartment in it and they were somewhat looking for someone to live there and take care of their horses. It was just like a dream for three years living there rent free in exchange for caring for the 5 QH's. One was a Palomino gelding who had won the World in Western Pleasure on the Palomino circuit. I worked full time as well and we saved up quite a bit of money that way. I also got involved, the last year we were there, with polo. As a groom and as a rider on their amature/kids team. My employer was really kind and let me ride all of his wonderful horses. He had about 20 some. I also met one of the polo kids mother's who introduced me to the sport of endurance riding and took me on a conditioning ride with her at a nearby state park. I knew that was my sport! But then my husband wanted to move back closer to his family (he's an only child) and he was ready to start a family. Much to my dismay. So we moved and bought a house that had three acres fenced in and a barn with three stalls. We started out just boarding another church lady's TB mare and foal for a couple years. While I had my first two children. My neighbor also took me on some trail rides every once in a while before she moved. Then I was really dying for a horse of my own. But my husband wanted one more child. (Of course I wanted kids too, it's just so hard to have young kids and have horses as you know!). So he let me buy a horse inbetween my second and third child. I even did a few endurance rides on her before I had my third child. Now my youngest is 4.5 years old and I still am not doing much endurance. I am looking to go back to work and am working on getting my teacher's license so I can teach! Which I am really excited about. I started subbing this year and I love it. But I do get to ride so much more than I used too. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa. I guess moving close to them wasn't such a bad idea. My oldest is 9. She has been riding a POA mare that I bought last summer and is able to follow me on my horse through our woods trails. I have just let her start doing it here recently and it is so exciting to watch her learn to ride!!

You'll get there. And don't be afraid to ask grandma and or grandpa. I only have one set close to me. But luckily my kids are their only grandkids. I also have a neighbor that has girls close to the age of my girls and we exchange babysitting sometimes so that I can ride. She usually takes a nap when it's my turn.

Nicole said...

Thanks, anon, for adding your story! It's nice to know others are in the same position, and that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. (even though I DO cherish having my kids - they are SUCH a bright spot in my life....I do miss spending horse time)