If you get the galloping housewife’s emails you will be aware that she went on holiday last week. It was amazing. A whole week of lying about in the sun and eating and drinking everything that wasn’t nailed down. OK, in truth, she is married to the human equivalent of the energiser bunny, so in reality there was a bunch of walking and hill climbing and sailing and swimming and even some stupidly fast downhill mountain biking. At one point she was overheard to exclaim – ‘this is worse than going cross country – at least when I’m riding, I know my horse doesn’t want to die, too!’
The trip was well overdue. The galloping housewife has been ill for a while, plus we have a child that needs some supervision and a couple of goats that would rather be indoors than out. Our youngest is a remarkable child, but he does have challenges and it does make it difficult to leave him overnight with friends as they find it tricky to cope with his sometimes exuberant nature. It struck the galloping housewife that this is very similar to life as a horse owner, especially for the amateur who possibly has their horses at home or on a DIY yard in an effort to ‘save’ money. The problem with this sort of set up, is that you often become beholden to the very things that are supposed to give you so much joy. If they’re at home, every overnight venture becomes a logistical nightmare as you try to rope your friends and family into popping over to feed and muck out, and it’s not much different in a DIY situation – although you might have more available candidates, you then owe them a favour and you just know that they’re going to ask you to reciprocate on the very weekend that you’ve got Aunty Ethel visiting or were hoping to actually make it to Scotty’s rugby game on time for once.
Even if you pay someone to cover these breaks for you, it is not without risk and worry. The galloping housewife was once at a very fancy champagne dinner in London with a ‘who’s who’ of British motoring society (the strangest stories are always the truth) when she ducked out to the ladies for a wee. Sat on the toilet, she made like everyone else in the western world and decided to check her email. Where she found a note from her current employee stating she wouldn’t be in to work in the morning. Or indeed, ever again. So there she was – at 11pm, in her flash frock, three sheets to the wind, with her knickers around her ankles and with no one to feed the horses at 7am. Great.
Once she had mitigated that disaster, she decided never to be in that same situation again. She began looking for full livery for her horses, thereby giving her the freedom to travel, and more importantly, be available when either family or employment required it. Horses are supposed to be fun, our outlet, our recreation. While the galloping housewife likes nothing more than just hanging out at the barn, mucking out stables, cleaning gear and pottering around with her ponies, she needs it to be stress free and on her own terms. Yes, it costs more to have them in full livery, but the time and headspace that having her horses looked after has more than made up for itself in ability to make money in other ways.
If you’re feeling at all under pressure to provide care for your horses, do give full livery some consideration. Or at the very least, look at shared care, where a group of you look after each other’s horses in some sort of flexible rotation system. It will be worth it.
Of course, it does depend on picking the right yard for you and your horse, but that’s a whole different article…