Monday, August 26, 2013

A Barn Party at Just the Right Time

"I believe that not every horse works for every person. Just like you can't have a successful marriage with every man you meet, no matter how sweet he is, or how hard you try and how much time you put into making it work.
It just doesn't work that way. This is about personalities. You can love someone to death, but know the marriage just isn't going to work. He's messy, you're a neat freak. You need to be cuddled, he likes to slap your butt. You like quiet walks in the park and he loves spooking at the sight of squirrels." --Sand, a commenter on Panic and the Pony

So I initially started writing this post on Thursday. I was frustrated, and I'd been questioning whether Midnight was the horse for me ever since he blew up in the wash stall. The honeymoon period was over. His ground manners are still bad, and that wasn't even something I thought to put on my "wants" list when I was looking--I figured that if a horse was a certain age and broke to the level I was thinking, he would already know how to do things like cross tie...go in the wash stall...not get all up in my space. I can deal with it, but it's just annoying to remind him every. single. day.  He just seems to "go away" and conveniently lose his marbles temporarily.

And working in financial media, I'm constantly reading about the best way to invest and save your money, especially since I'm working on a project for young investors. Guess what? Spending 15% of your income on fun isn't the best way to grow your money (though I also save 15%!). There are certainly other things I could spend money on.

So I went to the barn that day feeling pretty conflicted. Most of the people at the barn are either older, and pretty well off, or they're younger and their parents foot the bill. I wondered if I should really even be there, since the alternative is being older and horse-poor--and I just don't want to put myself in a situation where I'm struggling with life expenses just to have fun at the barn a couple days a week.

And what is the first thing that happens? One of the girls my age comes up to me and says, "Hey, are you staying around for a while? We're having a potluck!"

Seriously, how Saddle Club can you get? (and I mean that in a 100% positive way)

So I rode--circles, leg yields, prompt transitions--all the stuff I've been learning and practicing lately, plus a little mini hack along the driveway to cool out. A very solid ride, and then after some not-going-in-the-wash-stall shenanigans I eventually hosed Midnight off and turned him out.

Beer, seven-layer dip, chicken, brownies, pretzels--and five or six other boarders--a feast! I just love that at this place, women from age 20-60 have no problem just hanging out for hours, sharing stories of the ridiculous things our horses and other animals (boyfriends and husbands included in that category) do. So that really made my week and made me feel a lot better about staying there. I think I can learn a lot from Midnight and become a better rider/handler even though he's not perfect, especially with a lot of more experienced eventer-types around to help me.

And prior to leasing Midnight, I really didn't know anyone around where I live besides Byron, roommates and two other friends within a half-hour radius.

Am I positive that Midnight is THE ONE? No. But with the other benefits of this barn, I'll round up to one, as Dan Savage likes to say.


  1. You can learn from every horse and I rode a lot of horses before Carlos. As long as he's not dangerous, ground manners can be fixed (and some manners no matter how hard you try won't like I never fixed Carlos biting habit, or being food aggressive, just learned how to manage it.) And being young is hard financially, lots of people have a lot of advice. The fact that you are saving anything is great, keep saving.

  2. Isn't that the whole point of leasing though? He doesn't have to be THE ONE.
    I leased through uni and it was bloody expensive, I lost confidence, plus I broke my arm, but I don't regret it at all. I earnt more money to replace what I spent, I learnt an awful lot (mostly about what how I DON'T want to do things lol), I made good friends, had some really fun times and some irreplaceable experiences.
    So it's all good :) Money is always going to be tight, be stressful, so why the hell not enjoy it when you can? Maybe they'll be another subprime crisis tomorrow and all our savings will disappear (I hope not but just sayin'!)

  3. Thanks for your comments guys--you're both right. I guess another aspect of it is that I was so sure I wanted to buy him for a while. And who likes being wrong? Ugh, this whole thing is teaching me so many pesky life lessons.

  4. I agree with Carrot Top, leasing is like dating and buying is like getting married. If he's not the one, learn what you like and don't like about him so that this experience will help you find the one later on.

    As far as finances go, nobody can doubt that it's an expensive hobby, which is all the more reason to be super picky about "the one". I'm like you, I still save 10% of my income (hoping for 20% after some debt is gone) but occasionally have an insane amount of guilt about how much it takes to keep Connor. But I do it cheaply, work at my barn to pay off some board, and I realize that life without Connor wouldn't be a life worth working this hard for. I love my job and career, and don't mind retiring five years later than I otherwise would if my life is going to be this much fun as a result of having the pony.

  5. I agree with everyone above. Even though I seem to constantly have financial difficulties and own a horse, I don't regret it. I don't look at it as a waste of money on fun. I like to think about it as an investment in the future. Instead of investing in stocks, you are investing in skills so when the time comes you can get the horse you want and enjoy him/her. I also like to look at my friends and what they spend their money on. They will growl me for spending x amount of money a month on my horse but then they will spend the same amount of money on alcohol or at the mall. This is not a sport to wait to do later when you're old and retired (although you can do that too!). It's definitely one of those "now is the best time" kind of sports, or at least that's what I think. No time like the present.

    As for Midnight, it's hard to instill manners in him unless the other people leasing him or around him are doing it too. It doesn't mean you can't make him better. There will always be things that grate your nerves, and hopefully with time and persistence, he can be what you want. Or he won't, and you'll move on.

    Go Saddle Club Barn Party!