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Riding, Roman

[Horsie] Random Musing

Sitting here with my nose attempting to demonstrate its Oscar-winning performance in the role of a faucet, waiting for the Claritin to kick in (*wachoo!*), I've been been reading through a couple of horse books that both wonderwombat and my riding instructor have recommended. And I got to thinking.

So, something I've been told -- by my instructor among others -- is that generally you can tell within a few lessons whether or not riding is right for you. Some folks who have been excited about it have their interest fade quickly after they realize how much work it is or things like that. (Considering I'm not only signing up for another month of lessons but also actively pursuing the option of volunteering at the stables, both the stable owner and my riding instructor have told me, with laughter, that they do not think this is a concern in my case.)

And really, although I ache after riding, and I still have a very, very VERY long way to go in learning stuff. I feel like I've found something that was missing. Writing code, writing fiction, all that sort of stuff is nice, but I feel more... I don't know how to describe it. Lessons on Thursdays -- and really any day I can make the time to get to the stable -- are quickly becoming one of the focuses of my week. Friends who see me in person say that I seem more alive and enthusiastic and cheerful overall.

In general, there are two kinds of satisfaction I get in life. One is personal satisfaction from an activity; coding is an example here. Even when it's frustrating, I'm usually enjoying myself, and so I have a lot more patience with it. The other is satisfaction on behalf of others; it can be a greater satisfaction, but I get less from it as a constant. System administration is an example of this; even though I'm good at it, I don't actually enjoy sysadminning in general, and as such it's much easier for me to get frustrated by it. (As anyone who's seen me get word of a security breach on some system I have administrator rights on can attest, as I start storming around and growling imprecations of doom, or pleading with the server, 'no, you really don't need that library...') And yet when I get through all the hassle and get it fixed, and see others able to do the things they wanted, my satisfaction is higher than just the satisfaction I get from writing a bit of good code.

I've realized that the horses supply me both kinds of satisfaction. I enjoy riding, and even just working in the stables with them. But since the horses are involved, there's also the satisfaction from others. There's this great sunny feeling I get when Chester shows affection in general, or gratitude for a treat or a grooming session or anything. Plus, it's like making a friend; even if Kara has me on someone else in another lesson, I imagine when I go back to volunteer in the stables on non-lesson times, or after lessons, I'll visit Chester.

And so I come home from the stables sore and achey but feeling alive and greatly pleased in general. Overall, even though I'm achey, I feel more energetic, more revived after a trip to the stables. This is something I'm definitely going to stick with, because after nearly a full month I feel a great deal more alive, healthy and generally improved. So it's time to start looking ahead down the line.

I've been told, among other things, that if one is serious about riding, it's really worth looking into half-leasing a horse after about six months to a year. My riding school -- and really all of them I've found around here -- do half-leases. And even for further down the line, the stable owner will actually take first-time buyers from the school -- even former students who aren't at the school anymore! -- under her wing and help them find a really good horse, and help them get everything squared away. (She rocks. Plus, you have to respect someone who has decided that her money is better spent on the horses than on her own home, so who lives in a camper/trailer on her farm and spends all her money instead on making sure all horses who live or board there are comfortable and happy.)

Another bit of advice I've been given is that if one ever intends to own or fully lease a horse, one should start a 'Horsie Hope Chest,' and basically begin not only saving money but collecting the more generic equipment (brushes, hoof picks, etc.). I was told this when I observed that a lot of people at the school have their own grooming kits which they use on the school horses, even though the school has (a LOT) of grooming equipment available for students. Probably something I should start looking into.

So I've been doing a lot of thinking. Much as I love my Beetle, the car payments on it -- and the insurance payments since it's a car that is only two years old, was bought new, and qualifies as a luxury car under some terms -- are a little pricey. (The Beetle costs me about $700 a month, between car payments and insurance and the averaging out of all the money I spend on the six-month tune-up/checkups I consider mandatory.) If I /did/ bite the bullet, lose the Beetle and find a cheaper, used car, I could easily start saving horsie money.

Hrm, hrm.

Anyway, I should go find my own dinner. :)


jeez, you *are* serious about this.

But, yeah, I can see why this gives you the satisfaction it does...

I think I'd look long and hard at travel plans, the state of the economy and of your company, etc. before committing to *buy*... but don't let that throw cold water on riding or even leasing. It's an investment in your own sanity... one which has a pretty high ROI, from the looks of it.
Yes, I am serious. I'm not kidding about how much better this has made me feel!

However, buying a horse would be a very, very long way off. I would half-lease first, and then try an actual full lease of a horse before buying one. Still, that doesn't mean it's a bad idea to start looking into it and the costs ahead of time.

And yes, there seems to be a pretty high return on investment in terms of my health and mental well-being, I'm discovering. :)

Having your own brushes is nice. You can get the ones you like, ones that fit your hand well- and ones that work well. Plus you can keep them clean if you want and all that kind of stuff. I never had my own brushes until about a year ago, but once I had them... I love it. Even if you can't afford your own horse (me!), it gives you a sense of ownership.

And as for other tack, well. I've always been a big proponent of the thought that if you are getting a good deal on it... there's no reason NOT to pick it up, even if you can't use it right then. Its that Bird in a Hand is worth 2 in the bush theory. I have a kid's western saddle that I can't use right now, but it still in good condition, in my trunk. Why? Because, when I decide I want to get a saddle, I have something that I can offer in trade because its damned adorable just as a piece of display.. and it is still functional, so someone with a child could use it on their pony. :)

And I think I'm getting an English Saddle soon.. Those are nice because if you get one that's a fairly 'normal' size, it can work decently well on a variety of horses with an extra pad or two. Its nice having your own saddle. You know how it feels to ride in, and you can take good care of it- you never have to mess with getting the stirrups right, etc etc.

*considers* I don't know how big 4H is around there in Seattle- but maybe in the outlying areas.. Around here the 4H group has a tack sale once a year. You can get real good deals on stuff there.

I just realized I get really flighty when I'm writing these posts about ponies to you! Ee. Sorry. :D

Yeah... in my case, the horse who I ride -- Chester -- requires custom-fitted tack. So, a little less useful to get my own set of that. The brushes, however, are probably not a bad idea, and the local tack shop is really good.

There is a pretty big 4H presence if you head down towards, say, Puyallup or (closer to home) out into the more rural areas of the Eastside. There are huge 4H sales at the Puyallup Fair each year, though.

And no worries about flighty. Lord knows I'm probably a little silly writing them, too!
Well, someday you'll ride a horse other than Chester. :)

But yea, the 4H sales really are good places to find stuff. Tack Stores can jack the prices up a fair amount... Some catalogues are okay. Valley Vet Supply does pretty good price wise, they have sales a lot too I've noticed. Stateline is a money hog though, so watch out for them if you ever try to order anything from 'em! But yea. The 4H sales you get stuff that's broken in (useful when it comes to boots/chaps/half-chaps/reins and Western Saddles) and for a much better price.

Aaand... that's all. :D