“I don’t care about showing anymore,” I said to my mom yesterday after I’d finished with the horses. That was kind of a big deal for me to say. For so long, all I’ve wanted is to get back into showing. I stopped a few years ago, before Chance got sick because he just never enjoyed the horse show life. My plan though was to get another horse that did.
Things didn’t really go as planned though. Chance got EPM, and needed expensive treatment and a lot of time off. That led to me not riding for two years. In that time, I started going back to school and last fall I started nursing school. I have a lease horse that I have been riding, and I am slowly (like snail pace slowly) bringing Chance back. I don’t really have any big plans though. Yes, I’d like to jump again and maybe show at some point; but I just don’t care about it like I used to.
The horse show life is not any easy one. It is expensive, time consuming, and very physically demanding on the horses. In all my years of owning horses I have learned that very few horses are truly physically cut out for a life of competing. The ugly truth is that not many horses will stay sound enough, without a lot of maintenance. I had one horse that I showed a ton right after high school, Espresso. He was probably one of the soundest horses I have ever known. We injected his hocks because he was in his late teens, though he probably would have been fine without. Since then, I have learned that he was a rare find. Chance was very difficult to keep sound. We injected his hocks, his naviculars, he took Previcox, and had pads in his shoes. And all of that is pretty commonplace in the hunter jumper world. Not only was it expensive, but looking back I wonder if all of that is truly fair. Of course for Chance it wasn’t because he never liked horse showing anyway. Maybe for a horse like Espresso that loved showing it would be, but then maybe he loved it because he felt good.
Also, I have learned that to really make it in the show world without a trust fun you have to essentially sell your soul. I could have given Chance away when he wasn’t cutting it, and hoped he didn’t end up on a meat truck, and gotten a new horse a long time ago. I see all the time, on social media, people trying get rid of their horses that aren’t cutting it or their older horses. I wonder if they care what happens to them, or are just so caught up in their show goals that they do not even think about it. Another ugly truth about horses is that the ones that can’t compete, or be solid school horses, may end up in a very bad situation. Horse slaughter happens, it is real. And it is where horses like Chance can end up. I am literally tearing up typing this because I could never imagine him ending up in that situation. Just because he isn’t a champion does not mean that he doesn’t deserve a good life.
“You’re more interested in the relationship now, aren’t you?” My mom said yesterday. And that is true. There is more to horses than competing. It is possible to just have fun, and develop a bond a connection. Horses can teach us so much about ourselves too, whether we compete or not. That being said, I think that is enough for me. Yes, I would love to show again someday; but I don’t really care about showing like I was did. I do not want to spend my life savings, or sell my soul, to be competitive. I just want to develop good relationships with all of the horses I cross paths with. And I want to nurture my relationship with Chance for the rest of his life – which will hopefully be a good long time!