Buy a horse you said. It will be fun you said. Yes, it is going to be expensive, but it will be worth it you said. It will take time, commitment and energy… but you are single you said. This is sometimes the small internal voice of reason I hear (in my sparkle head) when I consider the ins of outs of owning my little pony. My head may sometimes question my decision, but I lost my heart to horses, riding and horse Folly (literally), a while ago.
Besides the nagging tug and struggle between the voice of reason and your heart, there are several lessons you learn when you own, your own horse. I am sure if you have owned your own pony, you’ll have lessons to add – please do so in the comment section :-).
Here are Six Things I Learnt From Owning My Little Pony:
1. There is something about horses
There is something absolutely, over-the-moon, amongst-the-stars amazing about horses and riding horses. You feel like POD Alive is your theme tune and as though you have an endorphin firework show in your head and body when you sit in the stable with your steed or after a gruelling ride or leisurely outride or whatever. And once the riding bug bites you, your greatest wish is to own your own pony.
Horses and riding challenges and stimulates you mentally, physically, emotionally and beyond. It is an amazing workout that is super fun; from sometimes chasing your pony around the paddock, carrying the tack and saddling up, to riding, “tacking-down”, rinsing and cooling the pony and taking them out again. And if you are at a DIY-yard or not in South Africa, you have to muck the stable etc. too. But the lesson learnt? There is just something about horses…
2. Lots and lots of effort
A typical day at the stables: I walk from the tack room over cobblestones to my Folly (aka. Folly’s Ransom… read her bio here). And I lug: the saddle, purple numnah (Folly’s fav colour), her sheepskin girth sleeve, bridle, brushing boots, my helmet and gloves, carrots and water bottle to the stable. When I get there, my sweat pores resemble the Vic Falls. I then dump the carrots, helmet, and water bottle while holding the rest of the stuff. Because Folly would murder me for the bag of carrots, she chews on my helmet from time-to-time and kicks around my water bottle. So, these need to be dropped, while I take in the rest.
I then wrestle her boots onto her. Because she likes to move, just as I am about to boot her up. Once all four boots are on. I grab the bridle and loop the reins over Folly’s head. As I am about to put the bit in her mouth, she pretends to be a giraffe so that my 1.63 shortness can’t reach her mouth. So, eventually I get her head down; she then zips her lips and clenches her teeth, but I tickle her cheek with my thumb and finally get the bridle settled in the right place, on her face.
Next up the saddle. Folly now waits, as I get close to her with the saddle, she moves off. So, I ask a groom to please hold her. I saddle her up and slowly tighten the girth because I know she is pushing out her belly so that I am fooled into thinking it is tight. And only now, I make my way to the mounting block and arena to ride her.
After a 45 minute (plus/minus) ride, I take Folly back, take off all the tack. Do carrots stretches and sufficiently carrot her (after all, I am a glorified carrot dispenser). I then rinse and dry her. Cover her with fly spray. Put on her fly mask and walk her to the paddock – release her into the “wild”. Finally, I make my way to the stable, rinse the bit, wipe it all and gather up all the kit for the long-haul back to the tack room.
After doing this one day, I realised this riding gig is lots and lots of effort. Lesson learnt –
If you don’t love it; you’ll not do it. But if you do – it’s soooo worth it.
3. Money doesn’t grow on trees but horses graze on it
Money is something you work hard for because easy come, easy go. And it certainly doesn’t grow on trees. But horses graze, bathe, and drink money. They drain your savings, tap your salary and gobble your spare change. Having your own little pony is expensive (stabling fees, farriers, dentists, vaccinations, lessons etc.) but you budget for it. It’s those unexpected and after hour emergency vet visits that get you.
Recently Folly scared me “bit-less” when on the 31st of December 2017 – she decided to get in a paddock scuffle with one of her field mates. This led to her front leg swelling three to four times it’s original size and we thought it was broken. So, after-hours on a Sunday, which happens to be New Year’s Eve, we had a vet come out, who did scans. Pony owners at this stage are cringing because they know how many thousands this scenario warrants … But also, the fear a broken leg causes.
Fortunately, Folly just damaged her radial nerve and didn’t break anything. The point is – horses truly lap up money. So, the lesson learnt: always be prepared for the unexpected.
4. It may be discouraging at times
At the start of 2017, I almost wanted to quit riding. In 2016, I fell off Folly. As I was asking for the canter, she bucked and bolted, and I was unseated and fell on my head. But I was wearing a helmet. So, after a weeks bed rest – I was physically sorted. But my mindset wasn’t right.
I completely lost confidence in my riding, in the canter and in my horse. I tried to take many lunge and other lessons to try sort my fear. Many lessons just focussing on cantering. But the fear ruled my riding. One morning it was drizzly, windy and cows came past the arena and Folly just didn’t handle it well and I even less. I had a meltdown on Folly and didn’t want to ride anymore. But then I gave riding a few weeks break. And then started lessons – just at a walk. Doing what beginners do and spent the rest of 2017 working on my confidence and trusting my horse again.
Pushing through my fear and apprehension has made me a better rider and mom to Folly. Lesson learnt, riding and horses will challenge you in every way, if you push through the discouragement, embarrassment and fear and carry on – you’ll achieve amazing results.
5. Everyone has advice or opinions
Honestly, there isn’t a hobby, sport or pastime with more camps, opinions and people ready with unsolicited advice. Don’t take my word for it – get it straight from the horse’s mouth :-J – the Horse Groups on Facebook offer hours of entertainment and yes, some knowledge. But it demonstrates the diversity of opinions, the anger surrounding people if you violate their beliefs and just the craziness of the horse world. Bit-less vs bits, barefoot vs shoes, garlic vs no-garlic in diet, citronella helping keep mozzies away vs citronella attracting AHS midges, blanketing in winter vs not blanketing, when is the right age to back a horse vs when too soon, thoroughbred vs warmblood, race horses doped vs no dope, horse whispering legit vs not. It’s unending.
Most of the advice is well-intentioned but it’s impossible to please everyone and some people are insane. When shopping for horses, one of the people said that if we buy the paint horse (as in the markings type of paint horse not the breed), it can only stand with other paint horses – like they were serious. It’s like saying when buying a Dalmatian that the dog can only play with other dogs with spots (no solid colours).
Lesson learnt? Just because people give you advice aka. instructions what you should do with your pony, doesn’t mean you have to follow it… but always listen in case.
6. A love no sweeter or more stable
People come and go but nothing beats a stable relationship. Your pony won’t cheat on you, he/she will not judge you, and there is no better feeling than spending time with them. Lesson learnt …
Buy a horse you said. It will be fun you said. Yes, it is going to be expensive, but it will be worth it you said. It will take time, commitment and energy… but you are single you said. Are you happy you asked? Yes, I said.
The Sparkle End.