It is easy to find ourselves running full-out, sprinting towards an elusive “finish line” that doesn’t actually exist. I’m guilty of it. I’m the first to admit that at times I can be a bit of a “workaholic.” We try our best, but despite our relentless dedication, there are only 24 hours in a day. Last week I took a proper vacation, twelve days abroad with my boyfriend and without horses. It was my first real holiday since I was 14 years old. Although, as a horse owner, it can be hard and at times heart wrenching to leave our creatures, I find myself returning to the barn fully recharged and with a renewed passion.
Most people give their horses time off at the end of the season. And the majority of us don’t make our equine partners work seven days a week. So instead of simply joking about the fact that we treat our horses better than we do ourselves – icing after a hard work, eating multiple balanced meals a day, various therapies and supplements to help them feel their best – we need to try harder to take care of ourselves in a similar manner. Years down the road when you are looking back, are a few a days away from horses, or even a week or two, truly going to matter? Or are you going to be more saddened by the memories you didn’t take the time to make; the family gatherings you missed, the opportunities to travel that you skipped, and the relationships that you didn’t make the time for?
Taking a vacation doesn’t mean that you aren’t passionate about what you do. Enjoying a day off, away from horses, doesn’t make you lazy. We all need to recharge, to experience new things, have friendships that expand past the barn, develop other interests. As a horse owner, traveling or simply getting away for a few days is possible, as long as you plan ahead. For me, it was vital to plan my vacation at the end of the season, when many of the horses are enjoying their well-deserved breaks. And I am extremely fortunate to be part of an amazing crew, so I was confident that my horses were being left in extremely capable hands. It’s not always easy to leave. But it is doable and it can be well worth the effort!
Now that I am back from my vacation, I am excited to return to work. I have missed my horses. Not just the riding, but the little things; walking down the aisle and having all of the horses stick their heads out looking for attention, snuggling with my mare while doing night check, feeling a horse lean into you as you give him a good curry. After returning to the barn, more motivated than ever, I realized that my vacation did serve as an important reminder of the importance of having a fulfilling life outside of the barn. No one can deny that it is important to be dedicated, to give one hundred percent to any endeavor. However, we can’t give our best effort if we don’t make the time to rest, both mentally and physically. Balancing our personal lives and horses isn’t always easy, but we need to strive to make it more of a priority. I don’t know what my future holds. But I do know that I am excited for all my adventures to come whether directly relating to horses or not. Next up, skiing!