Stable Advice: Don’t Judge Me

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    Editor’s Note: Horse Illustrated is introducing a new column for 2015. Stable Advice is a place for our readers to offer their advice on some of those uniquely equestrian problems. These aren’t the questions that you’d normally ask your vet or trainer. These are questions about horse life, like dealing with interpersonal struggles at the barn, juggling horse commitments and “real world” obligations, and generally navigating the challenges of living in the 21st-century horse world. Think of this as a place to share advice with a group of your best equestrian friends.

    Woman and Horse

     

    This month’s Stable Advice question:

    Like most horse owners, I work hard and make sacrifices to have a horse. I spend my weekends mucking stalls to offset my board bill. I have a modest home and car. I haven’t been on a vacation in years, and my clothes all come from the clearance rack at discount stores. So why do I get so much shade for owning a horse?

    Even though I live independently, my parents still question me all the time about my finances and my horse’s bills. My non-horsey friends make jokes about how I must have a secret trust fund to afford my equestrian hobby. I know my parents are just worried about me because they’re my parents, and I know my friends think they’re just teasing, but it still stings.

    I’d love to know what other horse owners do to deflect these comments, or better yet, help non-horse people understand that riding isn’t really all that different from other hobbies and habits that people choose to spend their money on. I’m proud of myself for managing my life and finances well enough to be able to own a horse. How do I get other people in my life to respect that?

    Have you been through this? Have any advice for this reader? Click “Submit a Comment” below to share it. Some of the best responses will be featured in a future issue of Horse Illustrated!

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    60 COMMENTS

    1. You just said it in your question, but tell them that you are proud of yourself for managing your life and finances well enough to be able to own a horse. A lot of people assume that horses are a huge money drainer (which they are0, but so are expensive brand name clothes. And vacations. And a lot of other things. Also, lot of people don’t understand that horses are worth the money.

    2. My first impulse, is to say find different friends….but that is not always easy, specially if you work with these same people.
      Explain the benefits of exercise, fresh air, being outside, and all the mental benefits, of being a horse owner.

    3. I went through the same thing with my parents when I first moved out on my own. You can help ease their concerns by demonstrating that you are taking your finances seriously. Next time they bring it up, tell them that you’ve set up a savings account for emergencies, or whatever you’ve done to make sure you don’t get in trouble financially because of your horse. Eventually they’ll realize that you’re an adult, you aren’t being reckless with your income by owning a horse, and in fact, having that added expense makes you more careful and responsible with your money than a lot of your peers. And if they don’t? Well, just know that their concern comes from a place of love and try to put up with it. Good luck!

    4. I live in a horse filled world alone… No one in my family shares a passion for horses like me.I am only a young teenager, but have big dreams of starting my own Miniature Horse Training Business, but my problem is no adults want to trust their mini with a teen… My family and friends don’t understand some of the things I do or say when it comes to horses. My parents are very involved, but are not crazy horse lovers like me… My dream as an older teenager is to rescue orphaned foals and foals with disabilities, and find good them safe, secure, and loving homes… I hope that people share my dream, and will try to make the world a better place for horses!

    5. Lots of people have hobbies. Mine and yours is horses! We like to spend our money on that instead of on other things. Find a correlation to what your non-horsey friends spend their money on. It might help

    6. I’ve done without a gallon of milk in trade for a bale of hay. I have two previous little dogs. I love them dearly. But the bond between human and your horse almost defies words.

    7. I’ve done without a gallon of milk in trade for a bale of hay. I have two previous little dogs. I love them dearly. But the bond between human and your horse almost defies words.

    8. I’ve done without a gallon of milk in trade for a bale of hay. I have two previous little dogs. I love them dearly. But the bond between human and your horse almost defies words.

    9. I tell them the truth: my horse is my therapy. He helps me manage and stabilize my bipolar disorder. He is MUCH cheaper than a therapist. It helps that both my meds doc and husband support me in this. My husband goes so far as to say he’ll never let me sell my horse after seeing the outright calm and serenity I manifest after spending time at the barn.

    10. Some ppl are jealious or just don’t share the love we have for our horses they are a privilage to have and enjoy
      My kids are grown and have their own life I’ve had horses in the past as well but its always been, you don’t need no damn horse , but they are wrong yes we do need a horse provided we can give proper care , horse ppl make alot of sacrifices to own a horse and love it all

    11. My Mother questioned my sanity about getting a horse, mostly for the expense, but after seeing the changes that owning and bonding with a horse have created in me, she sings a different tune, and even defends my right to do with my money, little as there is of it, as I choose. Not too long ago when I was scolded by a “friend” that I was “not in any position to own (my) horse” and I should “consider getting rid of (my) horse” my mother quipped: “I hope you told him you’ll get rid of his sorry bum, before you’d ever get ‘rid’ of my grand horse!” Amen Mama! I too have made financial, clothing, and place to live sacrifices for the love of my life – horses – However, I consider myself among the truly blessed, for horses are the best of riches this world has to offer!

    12. My whole family is non-horse so no one understands me. They all talk in my back about the money I spend on my horses. Add resentment to it because I am starting to miss of the family hypocrital parties for being with my furry kids. I haven’t taken vacations in years. But now my 18 yrs old is starting me to question it too. He doesn’t realize he’ll be gone to college soon and I want to have my own life before suffering any empty nest symptom. At least my husband fully supports me. He used to ride but not anymore so he’s always around me when I do.

    13. I’m so grateful that my mom provides for my daughter’s horses. She does dressage with her thoroughbred and my mom kindly provides for her first horse who had to retire so we could love her forever. Riding provides so many things for my daughter that nothing else can. Anyone who dared say anything about our horses would have my pity. They just don’t get it and they probably never will.

    14. The truth is, non-horsey people will never really understand, though some may still be supportive (hold on to those gems!). It is always difficult to go against the “norm” of society which says here is your box, do not live outside of it because then we won’t know what to do with you. But if you have a passion for horses (or anything else) that gives you Joy, you need to follow that Joy, for you are the only one who can say what is important to you, and that is how you must live your life. Tell people how you feel when they ask (if you want to), be prepared for negative comments, but let the words roll over you, then go on and do what makes YOU happy. In the end that’s all that really matters.

    15. Im in my 50’s had horse of some type all my life. Im not a go out to eat or mall type of woman,negative comments are made about not going to parties, family gatherings because i have horses to care for that i’d rather be with. Money thats another subject. I pay my bills on time. And make sure my furry friends have feed. Whats left than i buy groceries. When they start supporting my habit financially, then tell me what i Can and cannot have!:-)

    16. I bought my first horse when I was 14 and have never been without a horse during this time but in 2006 I was thrown and broke my back requiring braces and physical therapy as well as astronomical doctor bills even with insurance as my insurance did not like to cover equine injuries. I did continue to ride after healing against the advise of my family and dr, Becuase horses make life worth living for me. My spouse I have had to fight for the past 6 years on the horse subject Becuase he doesn’t like the money time and risk of life and limb. I have always just had to stand my ground that I won’t sell my mare and explain that the horses save my life every day. No matter how depressed or sad I am if I ride my life comes into perspective.

    17. My husband tells me I should sell one of my horses all the time cause then we would have more money to do things he wants. I told him no. I work a second job to be able to afford them. There are part of my family and I love them and couldn’t choose which one to sell. Also they are 2 very different types of horses. The older well trained one teaches me alot on how to ride (I am a novice rider). I practice new things on her then I get the courage to try them on my younger less trained horse. They are both very bonded and it would break my heart to separate them also. I told my husband that when he gives up cigarettes, beer and video games I will give up horses. So now we are buying a farm for my horses when he retires.

    18. My husband tells me I should sell one of my horses all the time cause then we would have more money to do things he wants. I told him no. I work a second job to be able to afford them. There are part of my family and I love them and couldn’t choose which one to sell. Also they are 2 very different types of horses. The older well trained one teaches me alot on how to ride (I am a novice rider). I practice new things on her then I get the courage to try them on my younger less trained horse. They are both very bonded and it would break my heart to separate them also. I told my husband that when he gives up cigarettes, beer and video games I will give up horses. So now we are buying a farm for my horses when he retires.

    19. I have been horse crazy all my life. I have 7 horses in my barn right now and most are rescues. My family thinks I’m nuts, my daughter once accused me of “neglecting” her in favor of my horse(ridiculous). I go without so I can open the barn door everyday and see the faces of the friends who will always be glad to see me. My horses are my life and my family that disapproves is free to get over it

    20. I tell people that having my pony is as much a part of my life as them owning a dog or a cat. I was never into dogs/cats to start with but I dont complain about it in the open either. I dont understand why people are so judgemental about horses…I say its your life, live and love the animals you choose to bring into it and dont worry about those other people, they might just be jealous. Have fun and happy trails!

    21. Good question and comments! At first my decision came as no surprise to anyone since I’d been an addict for decades. As time wore on, however, and I bought not just the horse but the farm, I have found a few people very judgmental about the limitations it puts on my time. Most recently, a relative at Thanksgiving dinner made a pointed remark about my need to leave early to go home and feed (because I give the barn hands the holidays off). I’ve fielded comments about my inability to, say, spend three months in Europe (not something I particularly longed for). And there’s always someone ready with the “How do you stand the smell?” thing. I try not to sniff at them and ask the same question. I’m old enough now to let it roll right on by, because for the other 360 days of the year, I’m delighted to have the horses outside my window. Riding has kept me fit and happy into my late 60’s. Nothing about that needs defending.

    22. Yes I do understand that there are people in my family and acquaintances that don’t get what horse owners know – they are good for us – for some it’s golf, or fishing, cycling, hiking, mountain biking, running, walking, painting, scrapbooking and a dozen other physical activies. The endorphins released make us feel better and, for us, it’s also the added adrenilin of partnering with a 1000# animal. Are they costly? Yes, but hobbies are costly, but few of the aforementioned hobbies keep us in the present. My horse engages me to think a half a step ahead, my challenge is stay engaged in the unspoken dialog, rare is the time I can just check out mentally, but also rare is the time I can get caught up in distracting mental dialog. We are not mere mindless passengers, we are riders and the leader of the herd of two.

    23. I have come to find those that criticize or make snide comments are not aware of the true benefits of being with horses! There is power in owning/leasing and riding. I am horse poor and my soon to be EX constantly nags me about money that could be ‘saved’ by my not having a horse. However he owns a Harley a new car and other personal hobbies. MY HORSE IS NOT A HOBBY! She is an intimate part of my well being and a member of my family. She is my mental health specialist and day at the spa.

    24. I remind my father, who was a horeseman that worries about me getting hurt, of his own horse stories. I share the faces of my aged and lame mare with my mother, who was also a horse woman. She never turns away an animal or human in need. I share the story of my rescue pony, who has emotional issues, with people how have their own emotional issues. Even those who have problems need love. I share my adopted exracing Standardbred with my students at school. When the adults see him gently cradle 50 kids in a day that have been blessed with health and intellegence or cursed with the opposite, they see the value of his large nonjudgemental body. I also let my Standy follow my husband around the yard like a dog when he tells me that horses are not as good as dogs — he loves my Standardbred. When I share the blessings with my friends very few judge more than once.

    25. You won’t find an answer to your question. You see they find no value to what makes you, you. Your horse does, he sees value in you.
      My dad hates horses but loves to fish. I don’t like to fish but I take him. A friend of his asked who I’d pick my horse or my dad. With out blinking I said my horse. Enequiveling to doubt in my answer. His fishing frend sad us horsey people are crazy about horses. Yep I sure am.
      I told my dad, fishing is your passion, horses are mine. If you cant respect that then I can’t take care of him.
      My non-horse freinds I dont care if theylike my horse or not. But my frends will do so I something horse related so that makes easier.
      So it’s up to you, your a die had horse nut. Stay true to you and the non-horse crap will resolve itself

    26. I deal with those kinds of people whose criticism is the cost of owning a horse with a counter question — don’t they have a passion in life? Surely those golf clubs, t-time fees & country club memberships cost more than I spend on my horse in a year. Oh, they like to play the slots in casinos? Don’t even go there. They bought season tickets to the 49’ers? Now why would I waste my time & money on that? They eventually get the picture that we all have different interests in life & mine happens to be horses. People who are more concerned about the cost of owning a horse (or any passion, for that matter) have no business owning one. You can tell them that of you didn’t own your horse, that you may have more money in the bank, but you’d be very sad as life wouldn’t be much fun anymore. Riding my horse gets me out of my skin. Every once in a while, I’ll be trail riding & encounter a hiker who’ll ask me incredulously (as my horse truly is magnificent!), “Do YOU own THAT HORSE?!?” To which I reply, “Nah, he owns me.” Enjoy your horse(s) & follow your passion, being the best horse ambassador around. People may chide you & question the cost of horsemanship, but what they don’t tell you is how much they admire & envy you for having a passion in life — something they can only wish they had.

    27. I’m 71 years old, have had my horse 21 years. I got him as a 3yr old. I board at a partial board stables and I am there 7 days a week, cleaning his stall (12 x 24), setting up feed, seeing he gets out, grooming, etc. Sometimes I even get time to ride. I work full time to be able to afford him and I would not change one thing. He is very special to me and I love my “barn family”.

    28. My mom thought getting a horse was extravagant. It only took a few pictures and one trip to the barn to change her mind. “You always look so happy with him. Even doing barn chores seems to make you happy!” She’s right! There is just something about about horse that brings peace and joy to the soul!

    29. Well I don’t think one needs to convince others for why one is doing what one is doing. One way out could be that you hang around with other horsey people. Sooner than later others will feel the positive energy that you exude while doing the (and living!) the life you yearn for… and even if they don’t how does it matter (till the time you are able to make the ends meet and your horse loves you 🙂

    30. Like you, I also work 2 days a week out in the barn in exchange for board. Even then, money still tight, and quite often I end up just “doing without” some things in order to keep my horse comfortable and happy. Non-horsey friends and family just don’t understand the therapeutic value my horse has for me. I have anxiety/depression issues, and sometimes it’s such a relief just to get away from everything and spend some quiet time in the barn and on the trails. Those moments in time are when I am able to unwind/”reset”. So when people look at me askance in regards to the cost of horse ownership, I simply respond with “It’s still cheaper than paying for therapy….” Which is where I would need to go if I didn’t have my horse.

    31. Ignore comments like that. If you truly love your horse, and your horse life, you won’t care what people say about how you live, because you live for your horse.

    32. I suffered from depression when I was in junior high. I started taking riding lessons and improved greatly, and eventually my mom and dad decided to get me a horse since I was making so much progress. My mom will still people that she thinks my mare saved my life. Even still, once I got out of high school and into college, I can’t tell you how many times my mom and other members of my extended family told me I needed to sell my horse. They told me I couldn’t afford her, etc etc. I made a piteously low salary at the time, and yet somehow I managed to board my horse and keep her fed and vetted, even though it meant I had to sacrifice some of my horse time for job time. Now, five years after graduating from college, I still make a low salary, but I’ve learned ways to make my horse habit less expensive–I rent a mobile home on acreage, for example, to save on boarding costs. My family has long since stopped telling me I need to get rid of my horse–they finally realized it wasn’t going to happen–and in fact, now I have two! It is very frustrating and disheartening when you don’t have support, no matter how much you love your horse and your horse life. But it helped make me the independent person I am today. I decided that if my family was going to try to tell me what to do with my horse, then I was going to become financially independent so that it was no one’s decision but my own.

    33. I think non-horse people just don’t understand the sacrifices horse people will make for their horse or horses, having never had that bond themselves. I’ve been fortunate, I guess. When people know I have a horse they tell me how lucky I am! They’re right of course. As far as your friends comments, I would just say, “if you’ve never owned a horse, you wouldn’t understand.” After all, it’s really none of anyone’s business what you choose to do with your time or money:-)

    34. I’m 62 and I’m still hearing it. Some of the things I’ve said: I don’t spend money on cigarettes like you do, I don’t go out and drink like you do, I’m not vacationing on any Island. If I choose to have a horse, that’s my thing. Or, I like this one, It’s better than seeing a shrink!

    35. The article was fine. I, too, have difficulty detesting people who do not admire my desire to own horses. I think one can be a horse owner, and even not ride at times, and I think it is only the business of the one paying the bills. Nice article. Joyce Hackett

    36. As time has gone by, I find that nearly all my friends are other horse people. We understand each other. I gradually drifted away from any non-horse people in part due to the reasons you describe. It was not intentional, but I think most people gravitate to others that share their interests. I don’t think you should give up your friends, but perhaps make an effort to make new friends among other horse people by joining clubs, showing, etc.

    37. I just simply smile and say “No harm, No foul!” They usually me ask then “what do you mean by that.” To them I then respond with “I’m not harming you, so don’t foul ME!” I love my horses, it’s just something you can’t turn off like a switch!!! 😉

    38. I just simply smile and say “No harm, No foul!” They usually me ask then “what do you mean by that.” To them I then respond with “I’m not harming you, so don’t foul ME!” I love my horses, it’s just something you can’t turn off like a switch!!! 😉

    39. I am finally able to live a dream I’ve had all my life. Having a family and work, I was unable to have a horse, only dream. I am now in my 60’s and enjoy so very much my time with horses. I was given a foal and enjoyed every second watching her grow up. She’ll be three years old soon. My children don’t understand nor share my love for horses. They think my time should be spent with the grand kids. This is my time now, my dream and I’m having the best time ever. I’m trying to share the love of horses with the grand kids and I think I’m winning. Keep your dream, fight for your dream and live your dream. Be proud to be a horse person. They are the best of people.

    40. I too came to the horse world late in life and at first my children didn’t understand, but now that they have seen how happy owning a horse has made me, they are on board. They don’t have the passion, but they love to see their mom enjoying something! I don’t understand people spending all their time and money on keeping their house updated and lawn groomed, but I don’t fault them. Everyone has to have a passion or life isn’t worth living. I have made some wonderful friends through horses and I hope to have many more years ahead of me with them.

    41. I think a lot of us are in the same boat weather we know it or not. I’m only 17 and so my parents try to “control” my horse life so it’s hard. But I do whatever in my power to keep doing horses. Including working in exchange for my lessons. But oddly out in “the world” I’m the horse crazy/weird girl” and don’t fit in really well, but even when i get to the barn i’m still left out and don’t really feel included or like I belong. It’s not fun, but I guess, if you’re doing what you love, don’t stop. Keep going. And prove them wrong that you can make it in this life-style/dream/(insert whatever you call it)!

    42. Good luck with this! I think the best you can expect is tolerance for your habit. I am closing in on 73 & have had the horse virus my entire life. I presently live in a 8 x 40 trailer that is nearly as old as I am in order to support my horse habit–two horses, a horse trailer, & a 10 year old pick up with a used camper.
      I have 2 trail horses (now in their teens) plus 3 dogs and have provided for them in my will as well.
      Folks who have not been seriously bitten by the horse bug do not have the ability to “understand” our choices…

    43. Good luck with this! I think the best you can expect is tolerance for your habit. I am closing in on 73 & have had the horse virus my entire life. I presently live in a 8 x 40 trailer that is nearly as old as I am in order to support my horse habit–two horses, a horse trailer, & a 10 year old pick up with a used camper.
      I have 2 trail horses (now in their teens) plus 3 dogs and have provided for them in my will as well.
      Folks who have not been seriously bitten by the horse bug do not have the ability to “understand” our choices…

    44. Good luck with this! I think the best you can expect is tolerance for your habit. I am closing in on 73 & have had the horse virus my entire life. I presently live in a 8 x 40 trailer that is nearly as old as I am in order to support my horse habit–two horses, a horse trailer, & a 10 year old pick up with a used camper.
      I have 2 trail horses (now in their teens) plus 3 dogs and have provided for them in my will as well.
      Folks who have not been seriously bitten by the horse bug do not have the ability to “understand” our choices…

    45. I to own a horse and love every minute. Life is to short do what you love. My family does complain sometimes I don’t get away enough but that’s partly because I have nobody to help with my horse but I don’t mind. I’ll be 60 soon, I have my boy 9 years already, he will be 13 in April and I love my life!!!

    46. Don’t worry about other people just focus on taking care of your new horse and people at your barn will finally see that you are capable of taking care of a horse ,but you should first take care that you are ready for such a big commitment that a horse brings.

    47. My family constently hounded me about my horsey friend. It hurt all the time because I love my mare so much but I knew they just didnt understand. I always took pictures, put on Facebook how much fun we always had together and when I broke my arm (I was riding and fell off ) they were amazed that I didnt blame her, so the agreed to meet this animal that changed my life. They seen how we worked together and how much love we have for eachother. Now for holidays they ask me if she needs anything and always wanna know how shes doing!

    48. If other people found something they love as much as we love horses they would be doing that too and if they don’t have a passion then they should find their own and not disrespect yours
      You are the one responsible for your own happiness
      don’t give it up for someone else’s jealous attitudes just and example; when someone finds a new love they want to be with them all the time and will find any reason or excuse not to do anything else outside that relationship
      would they give it up bc you said gee I think you need to give that up and do other things
      I think not follow your dream and you happiness

    49. When I enjoy something (as much as horses) I find it hard to but the feeling into words… So my fix or solution is …well… is a picture when I got my first horse a small little white Quarter(not the most beautiful horse but I still loved him)my face must have lit up like the fourth of July because my dad light up a big grin too. my aunt saw me on him later that summer said I simply GLOWED when I was on his back. After my family has seen me on horseback they simply have accepted it… unlike how Forest tries to be a body builder..to no success! So some times a picture is worth a thousand words!

    50. When someone expresses concern or criticism about your horsey expenses, bring on your best smile and say, ” Yes, but it is time and money well spent as I am active and exercising out doors with one of the most magnificent creatures on Earth! How lucky I feel to have my own horse!”

    51. They might never respect or believe in your passion BUT it is your passion not theirs. I am in my 50’s and my older brothers and family don not get it at all but they have learned to accept it and love me anyway (after many, many, many years). Hang in there and you should be proud of you for managing to keep going in this crazy horse world. Align yourself with others that have the same interest and enjoy life on your terms.

    52. A trouble like this is actually surprisingly easy to offset. But first, know your friends are just teasing. If they aren’t truly being mean, it will be easy. Your parents are likely just worried, as you said, and the best way to explain that you are doing okay and aren’t out of the normal is to sit down with them. Have a talk and maybe show them some research on what other equestrians spend. Tell them what you spend or try to save on, and why. Your friends don’t need the sit down talk, though! Just step aside one-on-one with each of them, seperately, and explain that they are hurting you. Let them know that riding is your passion, and if they won’t respect that then you won’t be friends. It might be emotionally difficult at times, but true friends are much, much better than sixty friends who tease you! Doing so made my life much better.

    53. I too, go through the same thing. I have come to the realization, I get it and they don’t. I just let it roll. My horses are my passion, love and escape and actually, part of me feels sad that they don’t understand or have a passion themselves.

    54. I go through the same issues, people doubting me, getting jealous, or even concerned. The way I look at it is the fact that it’s part of being successful in your hardship in the end. I have my horse and have been breaking her. I have an aunt-in-law who has trained horses for the olympics. I’ve been having the challenge with that too. The point is, do whatever you want and believe is right. Try not to let people get into your head about this or that. As long as you are able to pay for everything in return..even if it means clearance then so be it. Im sure with us horse people, half the clothes get dirty and become barn clothes anyway :). Like I’ve seen before…I work hard so my horse can have a life :).

    55. Just tell your parents, “It’s cheaper than therapy.” That usually gets a laugh, and there’s more than a kernel of truth in it. Crying on your horse’s neck is extremely therapeutic!

    56. Tell your parents how much you love your horse and that horseback riding is your passion. You are managing the bills fine and that you will be okay. Also, tell your friends that you love horses and they should respect that! If they don’t, find other horsey friends who care about your feelings and who will help you deal with people who make fun of you. Just remember, your passion is horses and you are managing the bills fine, they should respect you!

    57. Hi, most non horse people do not understand our love of horses. Tell them that if they loved something as much as you do they would want to do the same thing you do… For some reason loving horses is very powerful and I think that is why we do what we do. Which is devote our lives to them.. Just don’t listen to what the others say and keep doing it.. If its really meant to be they will come around…

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