Readers remind horse lover it’s not a free ride
DMISS LONELYHEARTS: Here’s a suggestion for Not Going to Happen, whose husband fell in love with horses because of the Cavalia Odysseo show here, and now wants to buy a horse farm. She should look for opportunities for her and her husband to experience horse-farm life, rather than discouraging his idea. Understanding the reality of owning horses and farm life (365 days a year, 24/7) which includes mucking (shovelling horse manure out of the barn) feeding, grooming and health care may temper his romantic image of horses.
On the other hand, they may find that kind of life appealing. Either way, they can make informed decisions rather than idealized ones. Some farms offer such experiences — an online search with “horse farm life experience Manitoba” results in a variety of options. Another option is his taking riding lessons, which include experiencing the work involved in caring for the horse. Christmas is coming; she could give him either of those as a gift. — Country Mouse, Manitoba
Dear Country Mouse: Your idea is realistic and positive. I’d suggest that both people get involved in the riding lessons, as they will share this lifestyle together. Although he, and any hired help, may do most of the work, the project requires understanding of responsibilities and everything else that goes on, as well as the joy of riding, showing, breeding and meeting the horse-breeding crowd. Most women don’t have any difficulty falling in love with horses, but there’s a lot of work involved. The husband and wife would have to work that part out and make a move to the country.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Here’s a suggestion for the man that attended Cavalia and fell in love with horses. I own three horses I’ve ridden since I was about five years old. Horses are not about galloping in circles in some fantasy setting. It’s mud, manure, teeth floating, de-worming schedules, farrier schedules, sheath cleaning, vaccines and a feed program balancing supplements and minerals. It’s an emergency vet bill, a trainer’s bill, bedding and tack.
Cavalia was there to entertain, not educate. When thousands of horses annually are sent to the meat plant because there just are not enough homes, this man should educate himself before jumping into a breeding program when he probably doesn’t know the slightest thing about the complexity of equine genetics, from navicular disease to shoulder angles, or any of the multitude of issues. These animals can live well into their 30s, and to carelessly breed for the sake of a pretty pony in the back yard is not only ignorant but reckless.
I’d recommend, for the sake of his marriage and the sake of horses everywhere, he enlist in riding lessons at a reputable barn. He can learn the true ins and outs of horse ownership, handling and behaviour in a facility that can teach him the realistic side of horses in the safest possible way. Owning a horse on your own property means having a part-time job 365 days a year. It can be the most rewarding experience of a lifetime, but also the most dangerous to yourself and the animal, should you not be educated. I highly suggest this man get his feet wet before deciding he wants to jump in the pool. — No Dog and Pony Show, Winnipeg
Dear No Dog and Pony Show: A horse is a most difficult and expensive “pet” to own and care for. But a horse can change a life for the better. I’m a great believer in the power of going after your dreams — that is the juice of life. I agree this hopeful horseman needs to try it out. A month working on a farm instead of taking a sunspot holiday this winter could help him find out if buying horses and property is what he really wants. He may decide it’s too much work for him, or he may absolutely love it. One thing I do know from counselling people is this: If his wife discourages him totally over his dream, and he never tries any part of it — even lessons — he will resent her deeply. That will probably express itself in a form of withholding from her.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I think that guy who wants to have horses because he saw Cavalia Odysseo should darn well do it, since it seems he has the money for it. With that kind of money, he can hire people to help. I’d hope if his wife wanted to do something desperately that her husband, as her one and only love mate, would help and encourage her instead of raining on her parade! — Annoyed By Naysayers, Transcona
Dear Annoyed: You have to wonder at the motivations of people who want to crush the dreams of their mates. Are they so afraid of change in their own lives they have to thwart the goals of their loved ones? An old lady from my hometown once told me the biggest regret of her life was discouraging her husband from leaving the salaried job that bored him senseless to go after his own business and take a chance. I used to wonder why he was so grumpy. Being the question-asking kid I was, I asked her — and she told me.
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