A Horseless Horse Owner

I’m currently in a new spot in my life so far with horses. I own the world’s most handsome, hilarious and spectacular (at least to me!) Thoroughbred, but he’s 1,300 miles away.

A few weeks ago, I moved from Austin, Texas to Riverside, California to pursue graduate school. It’s not the first time I’ve made a major move across the country. Seems like every few years I find myself traveling further away from the East Coast, but this is the first major move I’ve made while owning a horse. Turns out that getting my horse, Simon, out here isn’t as easy as throwing the dogs in the back of the car or hiring services from U-Haul.

Of course I knew arranging the logistics to get Simon to California would take some time, so I set things up with my trainer back in Texas for him to stay at the farm where he is happy, healthy and well cared for as long as needed. He’s currently packing on some pre-travel pounds with big piles of alfalfa for lunch, and bopping around jumper courses with his half-leaser as they prepare for their first show. As far as Simon knows, his mother is on an extended vacation.

On my side of the country, I am not as blissfully ignorant. Even with my days filling up with college orientations, a million runs to Target to outfit my apartment, and learning how to drive in Southern California which is quite its own adventure, there’s a big hole in my life. I guess the times I appreciate the quiet company of my horse the most, are the times when I can’t see him.

When I first decided to go to school, I told myself that it was possible I’d be completely engulfed by my studies and not have time for the horse. After all, I have to go to lectures, teach, work on freelance and finish my manuscript between it all. It’s not a small amount of work, and I told myself that it might be too much with Simon. I thought I might be better off leasing him for a few years while I get my degree.

But the privilege of owning a horse comes with sacrifices, and with each week that passes I think about the ways I can tweak my life to support him here in California. Biking  instead of driving to class leaves me some gas money to get to the barn. Applying for an extra part-time job through the university will help pay for board. Getting up a few hours earlier to go ride might deplete my energy level a little bit, but will increase my happiness far more.

Not having Simon with me these past few weeks has shown me how much I took horse ownership for granted in my past life. Now I kick myself for not spending more days at the barn before I moved, but at the same time I know I’m incredibly lucky to have the option to bring him with me at all. I’m so fortunate to have that goofy Thoroughbred, and I’m ready to work hard to keep him.

Leasing my horse out would be the easiest option, but it’s also the one that leaves a large part of me behind in Texas. My horse is my heart, and it’s probably best that my heart comes with me in the next phase of my life.