Obviously, there is no need to delve into all the joy that one derives from caring for horses, horseback riding, competing, and the like. Horse fans have many different reasons for their interests, but equally, they face a variety of challenges in their pursuit of such. Of interest in this short piece is how one meets those challenges.
Finding ways to balance time between the stables, riding and all of one’s other commitments typically requires finding the extra time. That generally translates to waking up earlier, working later, and finding ways to insert time with one’s horses while taking care of, say, one’s day job. Beyond that, sympathetic families and partners with patience also feature highly on the list of requirements.
Few are fortunate enough to have a stable where they live. Instead, many board horses which generally means relying on others to care for our animals. Similar to child- or elder care, vetting others to care for those we cherish can leave one feeling uncertain and suspicious. An unexpected bruise, change in behavior, or damage can cause one to second-guess the cause.
Of course, most times the cause is innocent, but as most people into horses care about their animals, guilt for not having been more involved is never far off.
Balancing the finances is also a challenge one might face. Clubbing together is one way to offset costs. There might be others who would happily take a share in ownership or exchange privileges for covering costs. At the far end, instead of owning a horse outright, some instead opt to be members of riding clubs. Or one can economize other aspects of one’s lifestyle.
When it comes to work, as opposed to owning a cat or a dog, or having children, employers can sometimes react differently when they learn about owning a horse or two. Horse ownership emits a variety of messages: costs for one, time, and also, it raises a question of commitment. Oddly, having other pets (or family) does not evoke the same concerns.
While certain topics are off-limits for an interview, such as asking a woman whether she plans to start a family, there are no such strictures related to horses. And yet, the same sorts of prejudiced conclusions can run through the mind of one’s future employer. Unless the recruiter has an understanding about being an equestrian, a simple question about hobbies could go awry. One naively might assume a question about one’s past-times is a chance to get a fuller picture of a candidate. But unlike cooking, or being an avid reader of Agatha Christie novels, horsemanship conjures up a plethora of images that some prospective employers misinterpret.
Though being the best candidate, those interviewers who are misinformed might infer that work will be one’s second or third priority. Thus, if such comes up during an interview, it is critical to reassure those who are uninformed, that there are several positive takeaways to hiring somebody passionate about horses.
In fact, unlike some other past-times, caring for horses generates other skills that employers should prize, namely that of having a strong work ethic. If anything, as anybody who owns and truly cares for a horse knows and as mentioned at the start, having the extra responsibility is taken on in the full knowledge that one will both have to balance other priorities, work smart, be efficient, and above all, be responsible.
When an interview does come round to the question of hobbies, one should be prepared to paint whatever one’s hobbies are in such a light so as to confer additional skills that make the candidate an even more applicable hire.
Another challenge is explaining to others what one gets out of spending time with horses. As opposed to a century-plus earlier, horses are for most people now, oddities. They represent a world that the automobile replaced. They smell different. Slow down traffic. Are seen more often on TV, especially in period or outback dramas. That is a lot of prejudice to overcome. Especially in a world that knows less about the personalities, kindness, simple earthliness that these creatures ooze.
And yet, many are familiar with how horses play a part in helping to heal emotionally injured children by undergoing equine therapy. Highlighting that benefit and suggesting one get first-hand experience can help to change opinion.
Just as other segments of society come together for sports, creative pursuits such as dance, music, art, and theater, there are also several equestrian circles in our society that also fill and connect people. Thus, one other way to appeal to those who are uncomfortable about one’s interest in horses might be to partake in something equestrian (after first prefacing such with please have an open mind). Perhaps it might be a day at the races? Or, some time spent in the stables feeding a horse a carrot or apple? It could even be an afternoon following a bridle path.
Horses have been a part of human society for millennia. It is only the past hundred-plus years that we have grown apart and forgotten how much they actually give us and help us to be better people. For those that have forgotten, patiently point out what they are missing.