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The Hobby Horse

Publisher Tracy Patterson with her dog sitting in the desert resting up from a hike

Tracy Patterson

I’ve always thought that it’s important to have a great hobby that we can lose ourselves in, a hobby that gives us balance in our otherwise hectic lives. Hobbies that we can do on our own, inside or outside, are even more relevant in these challenging times. I was thinking the other day that I miss owning and riding a horse. I had horses from when I was a little girl until recently, and decided I needed a break after breeding them for a number of years (which I somehow ended up doing even though it wasn’t my dream to do so). For me, horses made a much better hobby than career.

I lost my last horse, Sunrise Tēk, a few years ago. She was 35 years old, and I’d had her since she was 4 months old, over half of my life. It left a big hole—we had a connection from the first time we laid eyes on each other. For me, it was more than just riding, it was a relationship. She was a beautiful soul, and I miss her dearly.

I am now wondering if I want to go “horseless” for the rest of my life. Horses are a huge commitment, and not for the faint of heart when it comes to the outlay of money required to own one. On the other hand, they provide what seems like an endless list of positives: They give us a sense of purpose; teach us responsibility; make us feel loved; and provide a social circle of like-minded people. For some of us, there is no reasoning behind the “horse-crazy” feeling that usually starts as a child, and never seems to disappear no matter how old we are.

Along with the mental and emotional benefits, horses can also help us with our physical health, including balance. Riding (especially English riding) requires a lot of strength and stability. Horses get us moving, whether it’s getting into our car and going out to the stable to groom and go for a trail ride, taking a challenging riding clinic where there’s sweat involved (both the horse’s and the rider’s!), or simply cleaning the barn. For some reason, cleaning a barn can be very cathartic. I recall my mother puzzling over why I was so eager to keep the barn clean, but there was no way I was cleaning my room without major arm twisting!

Having a horse hobby is not a decision to take lightly; there are so many things to take into consideration. All I know is the horse-crazy girl inside of me is starting to fuss, and anyone who understands this passion will also know where I’m likely headed with this decision. It’s the same with any passion—it’s important for us to pay attention to that longing, that spark that lifts our spirits and moves us to a place of purpose, fulfillment and happiness.