Horse Ownership: Love isn’t a choice but marriage is.

Jack has recently had a few weeks holiday. Since the disappointment of HOYS, we all needed a bit of time to regroup and recover. Last week he came back into work but apparently had forgotten what a saddle was and thought he was 3 again. The mother wisely said “It was never going to be straight forward was it!” Jack is wonderful but a little bit high maintenance at times: with any horse that is naturally anxious, you just have to consider things a little more. But then she said the fateful words “Do you ever think about selling him and getting something easier?” Truthfully, yes I have, despite the fact I love him to pieces, and that is because love is not a choice, but marriage is.

There was an interesting debate in the Autumn issue of the Intelligent Horsemanship Magazine about whether horse ownership should be for life. Both sides had valuable thoughts but I am afraid I am on the side of that not being the case. I think it is important to think when you buy a horse whether it is going to be a long term or short term relationship. When I was younger, ponies came along for a year or two and then moved on, mainly due to the age restrictions (I never really outgrew anything, just out-aged!) I have also had horses who are projects to improve and sell on. But then there are the ones that steal our hearts. 💕

A 12 year old Daisy on her 13hh WHP Tyn-y-Cae Merlin.
A special pony who I sold but am still in touch with.

Call me a hopeless romantic if you wish but I don’t believe that love is a choice. Some people, horses, dogs… come into our lives and just connect with us on a different level. However, marriage is a choice! Making that commitment to stick with someone (horse or human), long term, for better for worse, is not something to be taken lightly. And goodness, yes it is definitely an incredible thing to do but only when it is right.

A lady called me recently, after reading my blogs, and wanted some advice about her daughter. She had a horse she “loved” but the mother was worried. On further discussion the following came to light:

  • The horse was an ex-racehorse.
  • The horse had a questionable/unknown history.
  • The girl was 17 and had never had her own horse before.
  • She has had 4 falls in the last month, one nasty on the road.
  • The parents are not horsey.

So, should the girl commit to an equine marriage to the horse she loves?

Every part of me wanted to shout “Noooooo” but it is not for me to say. The family need to chose what they feel is right. Instead, here is my general advice.

  • Take the rose coloured spectacles off and look at both yourself and your horse brutally honestly.
  • It costs the same to travel a bad horse as a good one.
  • Life is too short to be unhappy too long.
  • No true friend will judge you for letting a horse go if it feels like the right thing to do.
  • Consider you support network – if you are keeping a trickier horse, do you have the right team behind you.
  • If in doubt, chat things through with someone you trust and respect.

And something really important to think about it that there may be someone else out there who is designed for the horse. Struggling with a horse that isn’t making you happy, may be stopping someone else from having their dream horse as well as you from having yours!

You may be shocked to hear this but we were going to sell Pie at one stage. Advert went in the Horse and Hound, people came to try him but no one wanted him. And I think truthfully, we all knew it didn’t really feel right. But I am lucky enough to have an Aunt who is one of the best horse people in the country, Monty Roberts on speed dial and the most supportive and hardworking Mother of all so was in a position to put the work in with Pie. 2020 will be our 20 year Anniversary.

American Pie and Daisy on Daisy’s wedding day
20 happy years together. (This wasn’t actually our wedding, I married a human! 😂)

I wonder if the people who came to try Pie ever worked out who he turned out to be!?

Any other advice for people? Have you ever had to make a tough decision with a horse you love?

Oh and by the way, Jack is going nowhere. For now.

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