We come home from work or school and they are the first thing we grab in preparation for the barn. We keep an extra pair in our car, just in case. We plan our entire outfit around them. We ogle over the latest Tailored Sportsmen or Ariat styles and colors.
But how often do you think about your breeches? Not just if you have to wash them, or where you’ve misplaced them, or when you need a new pair, but what they mean to you as an equestrian?
Breeches are a privilege.
Horses are notorious for injuring themselves in innovative and puzzling ways. And just when you make the best-laid plans, they will throw you a curveball.
I have seen seen horses with long-term injuries. Fractures, soft tissue injuries, colic surgeries, insane hoof cracks, torn menisci, SI problems, joint problems, neuro issues. Innately, I knew that they were bad, and of course I felt for both the horse and their rider(s). But you can’t fully appreciate a situation until you’ve walked it yourself.
Between last semester and this semester, from 2 entirely unrelated but equally unfortunate circumstances, my horse has ended up on a total of about 7 months in her stall. She was just barely back into full work after the first incident when we were hit with another. She’s nearly allowed to go back to work when she got out of the barn and went skidding across the asphalt to add some impressive abrasions to her resume, and another setback. I won’t go into the details, but it has easily been one of the hardest things I have had to endure and had to watch my horse endure; I have a very different outlook, appreciation, and sense of empathy for anyone dealing with a horse with an injury or illness.
(Thanks to a wonderful team of vets and a fabulous support system, my horse is on her way to being just fine; and I am thankful for the perspective I’ve received during this journey – some horses aren’t as lucky as mine has been.)
Over the course of the past 9 months or so, I’ve had to grapple with who I am when I’m not on a horse. Like many equestrians, riding horses is something I’ve done so long that it is practically in my blood. Without it, I felt lost.
I missed mundane things I would’ve never given a second thought to: tack cleaning, tacking my horse up, being able to ride outside on the first nice day of spring, putting on a helmet. Wearing breeches.
While I have learned so much about my mare during this past year, there is no doubt that we have both missed working and are both ready to get back to having a job.
Without breeches, I’m just a girl with a horse. With breeches, I become a girl and her horse. The day I get to put breeches back on is the day my horse will be able to lend me her wings again.
Each time you go to put on a pair of breeches, take a second to consider how lucky you are – I know I will.