The Summer months are a great time for bringing old horses back in to the fold…
That’s exactly what I did this week with my 28 year old Arab gelding, Jackson.
Jackson was quite literally the first horse that I ever rode and it feels so good to have him back with me again. When I was a teenager, about 17, I’d spent a gruelling year earning money washing dishes in the local pub. At this age most of my friends were busy dolling themselves up and trying their luck getting served in the pub – or out partying. Not me though. In my seventeenth year, I was scrubbing pots and picking baked-on cheese off ramekins – all so I could pool money together with a local girl for our first horse.
Horse sharing is still a great option for anyone looking to take their riding skills to the next level. For me, owning a horse (or at least in part) was always going to be the way towards improving my skills as a rider and fulfilling my lifelong dream of having a horse as a companion. At that age it was probably best for me to just have part ownership of him anyway. People often look back nostalgically at their youth, seeing it as a time when they had all the time in the world. But, in truth, there were just as many hours in the day back then as there are today.
I remember my teenage years being incredibly hectic. On top of the responsibilities that I had around the house, I had my college work to stay on top of and then there were extracurricular activities and all the social events that came along with them. The 12 hours a week that I spent caring for and riding Jackson never felt like just another activity that I had to dedicate my time to. When I cleaned out his stable, made his bed, scrubbed out out his hooves or took him out hacking, I never felt that I was wasting my time or that I was missing out on anything else.
There was something so calming about his presence. I know many horse owners gain a great pleasure from talking to their horses as if they were people. But, aside from a simple ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ I never really shared that much with him; I never felt that it was necessary. Doing all the little things to make sure that he was comfortable was my way of communicating. He saw me doing it and I believe he had at least a small grasp on the relationship that we had. I would feed him, clean him, brush him and in return he would adhere to my commands and take me across the trails of the New Forest.
15 years later and that feeling of serenity is still there. I know that I’ve changed a lot over those years but Jackson still feels like the same horse. He’s been stabled just a few miles outside of my childhood home for all this time, cared for well by my friend, who took full ownership of him when I moved away.