Sorry, not the rich and the famous.
It's truly a lifestyle.
"This isn't a hobby. It is late nights and early mornings. It is struggle. It is triumph. It pushes your boundaries and tests your abilities daily. One moment it exposes your weaknesses only to let you shine your brightest in the next. It is not for everyone. Heck, it's hardly for anyone. But in that one moment when it all comes together- when man and beast are one. That moment is worth all the hard work and sacrifice. It is as necessary as breathing, just like the blood in your veins. No, it is not a hobby, it is a way of life."
My family and I live on a small farm. We have re-purposed a section of our barn that was previously part of a dairy barn into four stalls for horses. We even re-purposed an old machine shed into a small indoor riding arena, constructed multiple turnout pastures, and hauled in multiple loads of sand and limestone footing. Over the course of 5 years we have been able to trade in our weekender trailer for a trailer with full living quarters to camp while we attend horse shows.
We care for our equine family members every single day and schedule our evenings to ensure that they are staying fit, and healthy. We use our vacation days from our full time jobs to attend horse shows, also known as show-cations, plus the vet appointments, and then sometimes baling hay if the right weather window occurs. We schedule our farrier appointments for evenings after work.
Our Saturday's are spent hauling to lessons at our trainer's barn to better our riding skills and techniques. During show season we work on perfecting showmanship and equitation patterns for the next weekend ahead. We get back home and our rides working through the "horse homework".
Having the Right Equine Partner
Just like humans, not every horse is cut out for this lifestyle. Some horses work out great for having a life of turnout for the day and a ride in the late afternoon a few days a week. These horses are pretty adaptable to our lifestyle and don't require a regimented routine to thrive.
On the other hand, some horses are not happy to do this job and it just doesn't work out with that particular horse.
Almost two years ago I purchased a beautiful gelding that I hoped would be a great partner for me to show at breed level shows. Unfortunately, life happens and some weeks its just not possible for me to ride every single day while working full time, and helping my partner care for the kids and the horses. Plus there is always dinner to be made and the stalls to be cleaned with only so many hours in a day.
"What separates a winner from the rest of the pack is no raw talent or physical ability, it is the drive and dedication to work hard every single day and the heart to go after your dreams."
Over time and after a few heart to heart conversations with my riding coach/trainer, we determined that my gelding just wasn't the best fit for me as a DIY Amateur. He has been placed for sale.
Having a Team is SO Important
Personally, I'm not sure that it's 100% possible to be a successful DIY Amatuer on your own. But can you do anything in life 100% alone?
I rely on a TON of others for working with my horses and I:
Family- My husband and I are a team that shares the workload and management of our home/farm.
Riding Coach & Trainer- My riding coach not only gives me weekly riding lessons, but we communicate often during the week regarding how my rides at home are going.
Professional Care Team- Veterinarian and farrier
Multiple Extended Family Members- Grandparents greatly help with childcare while time is spent at horse shows, weekly lessons, and maintenance projects when we need extra sets of hands.
Be Humble Enough to Suck & Keep Going
This lifestyle takes dedication, planning, sacrifice, and sweat. Sometimes there is even blood and tears. Life is tough darling, but so are you.
"Be humble enough to suck for as long as it takes you to become better."
But there can be great satisfaction and success when all the pieces fall into place. We lose ourselves in the things we love, but we find ourselves there too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jen is the author of Horse Shoe Rd - Equestrian Lifestyle where she writes about her adventures with her horses and family while keeping her horses at home and traveling to horse shows in the Midwest. She loves sharing stories about being a do-it-yourself amateur exhibitor with her riding coach, being a horse show mom, and providing readers with tutorials and insider exhibitor insights. You will want to follow along over at Horse Shoe Rd! Be sure to check out the DIY owner horse care tips, stories, tutorials about grooming for horse shows, and assistance with planning your adventures through printable checklists.