On social media, my horse looks like he lives the lifestyle of a steed with a much more impressive pedigree and show record.
It’s all photos of him looking adorable in new blankets or enjoying a new kind of gourmet treat, or trying out a new bridle. But that’s really just to maintain our “street cred” among our 200 followers.
What my Instagram stories don’t show is 10 minutes later, when he’s rolled in the mud and ripped off the straps of said new blanket, or the 15 strides of giraffe-like inversion for the every two of balance and collection.
I hardly have the salary to support a lavish lifestyle for my horse. But I do the best I can. And I do truly enjoy enjoy spoiling him.
But some days, life just gets in the way. Sorry sweet boy, I can’t afford to buy you new blankets every winter season. And I’m sorry I’m not a more gifted rider. You just have to bear with me.
So Facebook doesn’t get to see the dark days in which I’m a “bad horse mom”. But lordy, am I. Let me count the ways.
I’m unbalanced. There are days when my horse’s stride is just too strung-out that he bounces my flabby butt out of the saddle. Some may appreciate his natural ability to extend and lengthen. But there are days when it’s easier to sit than others. There are also days when I’m feeling more coordinated than others…
I pull on his mouth. The lack of coordination I mentioned above certainly snowballs into holding onto the bit for dear life, upon occasion. I’m still finessing our ability to “maintain contact” which feels like a fine line in between yanking my hands all around to encourage bend and maintaining whatever I did to unlock that ever-glorious “light in the mouth” feeling and floating gaits.
I chronically mess up distances. Maybe it has to do with that strung-out stride I mentioned above, but finding the distance to a 18-inch crossrail sure feels as futile as winning the lottery.
I can’t afford the fanciest tack. My first car cost less than some of the dressage saddles I see for sale these days. I’m a writer for goodness sake. Sorry horse, but that means you’re stuck with the bottom-of-the-barrel name brands and there’s not much I can do about that. Hey, at least it fits, right?
Sometimes, it’s a guessing game. When I can tell my horse is under the weather, it can be a shot in the dark trying to diagnose the mystery illness or lameness as I waffle on when is the appropriate time to call the vet. Usually this consists going down a list of possible remedies until I find the right one. We all know some super spiritually connected horse owner that can just “feel” what their horse feels. How do I get some of that ju-ju?
I might not be the best rider or the most intuitive owner. But I do love my horse. I make sure his needs are met and that he’s not in pain. And as long as he’s getting his scheduled meals and turn out time with his buddies every day, I think he’s generally OK with putting up with me, too.