Looking back, I realize how lucky I’ve been to have had horses in my life since I was a kid. Sure, I didn’t come to own my first horse until I was almost done with college, but they’ve been there, teaching me lessons and helping me to grow, since I was only 10. A few decades later, I’m able to see how horses not only shaped my life, but also the person that I ultimately became.
No More Fear
When I was younger, I was timid. I’d avoid calling a stranger on the phone at all cost, and I hated conflict. Owning a horse changed all of that. With a horse of my own, I was forced to get over my fear of talking on the phone – after all, a bunch of vet and farrier appointments will do that. It was my first voyage into the “real world,” I suppose, and forced me to step into adult responsibilities.
One of those responsibilities? Finding a way to pay for my mare. That’s easier said than done when you’re still in college and working at Walmart, or newly out of college and searching for your first grown-up job. I quickly got good at budgeting, and luckily understood the importance of setting aside some emergency savings. That was a good thing, it turns out, since my mare managed to incur two pretty significant emergency vet bills during the first year that I owned her.
I also got creative in staying within my budget, including working off part of my horse’s board, picking up odd side jobs, and driving an old truck. Other sacrifices included never going out to eat or to the movies, but it was all worth it in the end.
Remember how I explained earlier that I hated conflict and would avoid it at all cost? Well, owning a horse meant that that had to change. When things at a boarding barn went downhill, I had to step up and make sure my mare got the care that she needed. I also had to be strong enough to eventually walk away from that situation, finding a better place for my horse.
Perhaps the most important lesson that horses teach us? Empathy. We learn how to care selflessly for another creature, how to sacrifice, and how to prioritize their needs over our own. After a summer ride, I may be dying for a drink, but I don’t let myself dive for my water bottle until my horse is untacked and has access to her own water bucket.
Owning a horse is full of challenges, and often you need a hefty dose of creativity to come up with a solution. Thanks to my horse, I learned how to find ways to “make it work,” how to get creative, and how to never back down from a challenge.
When we own a horse, we learn countless lessons, but it also changes who we are as a person, too. I know I’m a better person because of horses, and I have them to thank for so many of the characteristics that I have today.