Read­ers re­mind horse lover it’s not a free ride

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - ARTS & LIFE -

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.

Please send your ques­tions and com­ments to love­coach@hot­mail.com or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Win­nipeg Free Press, 1355 Moun­tain Ave. Win­nipeg R2X 3B6.

MAU­REEN SCURFIELD

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