Friday, December 19, 2014

How to Become a Re-Rider

When I started off my career as a re-rider, I did not have the money to run right out and purchase a horse.

I had just spent 6 years living in New York City, which you may have heard, is uber-expensive (generally the only city in the US to crack the top 10 list of the Most Expensive Cities in the World).

After a brief 7 month stint in Lexington, KY, I returned to my hometown in Massachusetts, and decided to re-dedicate myself to the pursuit of excellence as a rider.

I returned to the last barn I had received instruction at as a teen. Over the years, I had popped in and visited my old instructor from time to time, so it was not a complete surprise for me to re-appear in her barn 10+ years later and pick up where I left off.

This began a 5 year journey of leasing and lessons. For many, leasing is an attractive compromise for those who cannot afford a horse of their own. For me, it was a 5 year long drama of "To Have and Have Not".

The first two leases were on-farm full leases.  It was great not to have to share with other leasees, but there were other compromises to be made. The horses available to me were a little outside my skill level at the time. The was no indoor or even an outdoor with lights. That left 4 months out of the year that I was down to two rides a week -- weather permitting. Getting the farrier to come out was always an issue.  I suspect my trainer only called him when she could afford to shoe the other horses she owned, which would leave me with a horse long overdue for a trim, tripping and/or throwing a shoe and being off completely.

When I finally left that barn, it was to go ride at a show barn on a more broke horse.  The facilites were definitely an upgrade.  I had an indoor to use year round. The horses were always shod on time. My goals evolved from trying not to fall off and die, to actually being able to work on myself as a rider.

The only drawback?  I could not afford to full lease. I was able to 1/3 lease with two other riders.  Lease horse was ridden 2x daily, 6 days a week. This is by no means animal cruelty, but it never sat right with me. It just felt wrong. Sometimes I would arrive to find another leasee just finishing her ride.  I would have the choice of riding a hot, tired horse, or not riding at all.

I complained bitterly to my then-fiance.  Many, many times I came home from the barn in tears.  I looked around at the horse world, and I felt like an outsider. I bitterly envied those who could afford to have a horse of their own.

My doctor at the time offered me this sage advice:
"Sell a kidney or find a higher paying job."

So that is what I did.

1 comment:

  1. Aww!! I guess it's those tough times that make us really appreciate what we have. :) Thanks for sharing!