Are You Feeling Guilty?

You know what makes us feel guilty? Spending time at the barn, and not spending that extra time with our family.

You know what else makes us feel guilty? Spending time with our family, and not spending enough time at the barn.

We also feel guilty when we clean the tackroom but not the house, or we help with the yard work instead of doing dressage. We can barely validate going to a horse show on Saturday instead of catching up on laundry, and Heaven forbid we need to run some errands on a sunny day when we should obviously be riding.

It’s enough to make anyone insane! Society tells us to do one thing, (okay, 20 things) but our heart wants to do another. The trainer says yes; the husband says no; the kids say whatever they want, apparently. We feel torn in so many directions at once, that it’s a miracle we are all still in one piece!

So knock it off!!

Seriously!

Be nice to yourself! You can only do so much at once!

Let’s break this down for a minute. If you need to go to the barn and take a riding lesson and shovel some manure to make yourself happy, do you think your husband/boyfriend/family really cares? They benefit from your sanity too, you know. If you’re in a better mood after a few hours at the barn, the whole family has a better day. Let’s just face it. After you get your crack- I mean, horse fix, you are ready to face the day, and your attitude is significantly improved.

Additionally, all that physical activity and manual labor that happens around horses is surely not doing any harm to your figure. I bet your spouse likes that part too. 😏 Just guessing.

Now, if your significant other has some sort of weird problem with your horse habit, I would venture to guess that there are underlying issues that need to be sorted out, and they’re not horse related. No healthy relationship includes trying to talk your other half out of their hobbies, independence, and happiness.

Generally speaking, our families want us to be happy. They knew we were horse crazy when they first met us. They didn’t expect us to change. If money were no problem, 100% of them would say sure. Have the horse. Buy the trailer. Make yourself happy.

On the other side of this guilt fest is your horse. Yes, he’s super snuggly, and he nickers when he sees you, but let’s be honest. He really wants food. He sees you and literally sees a cookie dispensing machine and hay distributor. He really doesn’t care about what Karen did at work today or what your mom told her friend yesterday at church. But he listens contentedly and makes your heart feel full, because cookies. 🍪

Cooooookiessss. 🍪

You have literally trained him that when you ramble on and smother him with attention, if he stands and accepts it, you will feed him. It’s nice to think he genuinely cares about your well being and loves you with his whole heart, but he doesn’t. He loves you with his whole belly. To the moon and back. ❤️

Some people will read that and the hackles on their back will go up. What?! No! *gasp* Not my precious Buttercup!! He LOVES ME! Who does Shallary think she is?! Buttercup and I are besties! She doesn’t know MY horse.

Yes. Yes I do. I know that horses generally like interacting with their humans. I do think they like us to come around. We are one of their herd. Mine follow me around, watching me do chores, offering a helping hand, and biting at my pockets any chance they get. I think they like to play with us. And when we ride them, and they get more flexible and more fit, they do feel better. So yes, your horse likes you and the benefits you bring to the table, but let’s face it. Cookies. He wants all the cookies.

Coooookiessssss 🍪

Also. Your horse has no goals. No Olympic dreams. No hopes of Third Level. Not even one tiny thought about running a 2* at Fairhill in the spring. None!! (Can you believe the nerve?! After all the hard work, time, money, sweat, blood, and tears you have invested into him, and he’s not even on board with your plan!!) With that in mind, you do not, I repeat, do not, have to feel guilty if your horse doesn’t “reach his potential.”

If I had a nickel for every horse sale ad I have read that the reasoning for the sale is either “not getting the attention he deserves” or “needs a rider that will bring him to potential” and “I’m wasting him”… I would be a millionaire.

As long as your horse gets adequate care, that’s all he really needs. He has NO IDEA there is anything else on the agenda besides what you present to him that day. Do not feel guilty if you only ride once a week. Do not feel guilty if you have no idea how to properly ask for tempi changes. Your. Horse. Does. Not. Care.

He probably would love to go on a few trail rides, hang out at a ranch, live in the back 40 with his friends, get into mischief, and have the whole winter off. He does look really cute wearing his rug in his stall, but at the end of the day, he’s still a horse.

So take December off, if you think you need to. The holidays are coming. The days are getting shorter. The cold is setting in. Motivation is low. That’s fine.

Take January off, if you think you need to. The weather still sucks, and those counter canter serpentines will still be there in February, you can count on that.

If you need to spend time at home for a month to feel happy, then do it. But if you want to spend some extra time at the barn, then make it happen.

I used to try to cram as many things into my schedule as the day would possibly allow, because I felt bad or guilty if I didn’t ride, do the chores, and spend time with the boyfriend every day. Sadly, I am human too. I couldn’t do it all every day, and neither can you.

Sometimes we have to just do the errands, fix the horse’s waterer, and get dinner on the table before midnight. And that’s okay. You can ride tomorrow. You can also do all the laundry tomorrow. Because today, you found the living room underneath all the stuff, and even cleaned the bathroom. And that has to be good enough. There has to be a point where we stop picking at ourselves and being upset by the things we didn’t get done and the horses we didn’t ride.

Here we are in December. The weather sucks. I can’t ride everyday. I get off work and it’s been dark for hours. But I don’t feel bad or guilty. It is what it is. So I go harass the ponies, give them cuddles, hand out some cookies, and go inside for some tea. And I don’t feel bad for doing it.

The family is still there. Your trainer is still there. And they all want you to be happy, and you should want that too.

So I challenge you to try it. Let December be whatever it will be. No more guilt. Ride when you can. Enjoy the holidays. Take a day off if you need to. Buttercup will still be there to nicker at you, and he will still love you. I promise.