In life we strive to give our children a better life/opportunities than what we had. Sometimes in doing so we dig ourselves an awesome hole!!! I would like to introduce you to the hole that we have fondly fallen into, and aren’t crawling out of any time soon. We are the proud Parents of an Equestrian 🙂 Here is a list of things you need to know before you put your child on the CUTE pony ride, and they start campaigning to ride a horse/own a horse!!!
Oh my goodness read up on some of the lingo within the horse world.
- Barn = Overall facility where the horses live
- Stall = Individual horse housing
- Pasture/Turnout = Where some horses live year round and others are brought to to hang out for a few hours in the day
- Arena/Coverall = Large area sometimes indoor, outdoor or a combination where your child will ride the horse
- Tack = Equipment used on horses in order for humans to ride/control a horse
- Tacking Up = Putting the tack on the horse
- Helmet = Head protection for your child, ALWAYS wear this
- Breeches/Jodhpurs = Ridiculously expensive pants your child will wear while riding 🙂
Time / Patience ~
Now when you sign your child up for any sport you know you are in for a few hours a week of practice and game days…. Hahahahaha, grab a sleeping bag and be prepared to move into a stall at the barn and live there part of the week!!! A 45 min lesson is in actual fact a four hour hang out at the barn. You arrive at the barn at least 30 minutes prior to your lesson (more like 45 to 60 ) and go and retrieve said horse/pony from the stall/pasture. Then you groom said beast 😉 and tack (look at above definition) him/her up. This depending on the time of the year can take longer or less time (1 hour). Then you take the horse into the arena and ride for said amount of time (1 hour), then you do everything in reverse (1 hour). By now your child has also met and made friends with other Equestrian kids, they will hang around and chat ALL THINGS HORSEY (1 hour)…. Because no one else in their circle of friends will do this, as they DON’T understand the LINGO!!! See above 😉 See how that one hour riding lesson has now turned into a 4 hour event…
Car Cleanliness ~
Invest in Scentsy, I swear to all that is holy if you don’t want to go around smelling as if you live in a barn!!! Which if you are an Equestrian Parent (you do!!!) then you need to invest in a good brand of smelly. Your car will smell like the horses stall/pasture, and so will your house if you do not store all things horsey in the garage!!!! Trust me on this one, if it is not getting washed immediately, then it stays in the garage/outside. That is unless you are like my kid, who thinks this is the BEST perfume in the world!!! Her stuff is still stored in the garage, when she has her own place, then she can do as she pleases. 🙂
Dad / Pro Photographer ~
In most sports we get snap happy, in the horse world you have to get up close and personal with your child and the HORSE!!! Get used to that horse, become its friend and know where the heck to be around that horse!!! Oh and get familiar with a SLR camera, and snap away 🙂 Thank goodness the hubs is a pro.
Horse Shows ~
When your child starts riding they will be asked to participate in the Barns schooling show. This is where once or twice a year the Barn will bring together all of their schooling students, charge you and have them participate in a Horse Show. It is adorable, and a good confidence builder. As time goes on your child will have the opportunity to participate in other shows such as English Dressage, Western Dressage, Hunter-Jumper, Western Pleasure, with organizations such as IDCTA. Here is where it gets interesting…. Hehe!!! PACK your sleeping bag, the afternoon before the show, your child will be bathing (yes bathing) the horse, grooming, braiding, and overall cleaning the heck out of that horse 😉 This generally takes all afternoon, and way into the night… Late lunch and dinner is at the barn, have fun… Oh and don’t forget the horses treats, as they are having to stand there and take all this pampering abuse from your child. Then you are back at the CRACK of dawn at the barn to re-pamper the horse and put back together anything they undid during the night… Then they ride for 5 minutes, YES 5 minutes and then they are DONE!!! In the show arena that is, they still have to take all the tack off and put the horse away after brushing it down 🙂
Oh did I mention that horse riding is a YEAR ROUND sport? We live in the midwest, so that means that 3/4 of the year we are freezing our buns off… If you go to the barn without the proper warming gear and someone gives you the horses cooler blanket, TAKE IT!!! It may smell like horse (remember your kid loves that smell) but you will be WARM!!!! In the summer when you think it will be wonderful to sit out in the outdoor arena and watch your child ride, they will be sweaty, the horse will be sweaty and there will be a ton of FLIES!!!! So get used to either freezing your buns off or swatting flies 🙂
Tack Shop ~
Oh my…….. I can’t even begin to prepare you for this shop. Depending on which discipline your child rides you will either shop at a Western or English tack shop. Once in a while you may happen upon a shop that deals in both, but that is rare. Ours this year ventured from English dressage to Western Dressage, so now she rides both!!!! Of course (note the sarcasm here) !!! When you go to one of these stores one side will have all the known tack in the world for the horse, and the other side will have all the clothing for the rider!!!
When your rider starts to show, they will need their every day barn wear and the all important SHOW Clothes… If you are as LUCKY as us and have a rider in two different disciplines then CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You now have to purchase TWO Show outfits!!! One English and one Western!!! Just keep smiling and keep telling yourself you will NEVER own a horse 🙂
Share boarding / Owning a Horse ~
When we stared this journey many moons ago I swore we would never, ever share board a horse let alone own one. They are a HUGE money commitment and time commitment. Firstly you have to buy the horse, then pay for the horse to live somewhere, if you don’t have enough land to have the horse live with you. Thirdly put money aside for vet bills, feed, tack, training, and so on and so on 🙂
We still do NOT own a horse, but we broke down this year and started to share board a horse. Basically we rent a horse for a number of days within a month and our rider is able to go up and use the horse as if it is hers. No lesson, just a time to build a relationship, ride for fun and practice what you learn within the lesson of the week. Yep, we are share boarding……. 😉
All of the above is said with tongue in cheek… I remember when our youngest fell in love with horses, and I wondered if it was a passing phase. Eight years later I don’t think I have to wonder that any more. Her passion shines through on a daily basis, her love of her horse (share boarded) is outstanding, and her desire to improve is inspiring…. Yes I am impressed by her, and I will trudge to the barn in all seasons, stay late and arrive early, thank goodness for COFFEE !!!!