Every fall for the past several years I have been invited to join the Equine Industry class at MTSU under the professorship of Dr. John Haffner as a guest lecturer. I very much enjoy doing this….the young people in this class are always ready to hear more about applications for what up to now has been theory. Conversely, I always learn at least as much as I teach during these sessions.
Given the level of interest in any equine program at any university, IMO the equine industry is rife with ways to spend money on horses, however outside the field of veterinary medicine it is more often than not woefully short of good paying careers for those who would otherwise choose to make horses their life’s work. This is as true of agriculture generally as it is of the equine industry specifically. Well do I remember spending time with the guidance counselors in high school who did all in their power to kill my passion for farming and steer me (an “A” student) away from a career path in agriculture and toward something they felt was more promising…..this in a farm community. Only on the intervention of my parents did they back down some, and outside of my home I never did receive any “institutional” encouragement for my path of choice. Perhaps because of this, I always begin my teaching sessions by sharing the aforementioned story and by encouraging the students to follow their passion and their dreams and not to let anybody stand in their way regardless of how impractical the dream may seem to them. I've never been of the mindset that it was necessary to work at something I didn’t like all week in order to earn enough money to be able to afford to do what I liked at the weekend. Five out of seven days of my life was just too high a price to pay, so why not just find a way do it full time and enjoy every day?
One of the questions I receive every year at these sessions is what do we need to do in order to do what you and Melissa are doing? Of course there is no correct answer to this….every person and every situation is different. However I think the trick is that after thinking it through one has to choose to do SOMETHING that puts the goal at hand closer to reach. After I've answered their query with a question of my own (What are you doing RIGHT NOW to move yourself closer to your goal?), more often than not students (and others that contact us with the same question) spend their time telling me all the reasons they can’t do something as opposed to taking the time to think it through and find a way to get it done. So dear reader, I encourage the same positive thought process for you, no matter what it is that you’d like to do!! I think it also comes as a revelation to many of them that there is no easy path to “success”….mastery of anything comes only after much patience, fortitude and continued elbow grease…or maybe it’s just that I’m a dummy as I have been working steadily towards my goals since I was 4 years old ! LOL !! (end Jason's post here)
We are contacted at least once a week by individuals who are interested in starting a retirement farm. I used to spend so much time answering the same questions to people over and over that I actually put a page on our website called "Run the Numbers" that outlines all of the expenses that need to be taken into consideration when starting a farm. I'm always surprised by the very open-ended questions I am asked, typically something of "what do I need to know to start a farm like yours" or whatever. If only I had enough time to sit down and type that out for someone - and I absolutely, positively don't have time to walk you through it on the phone! Thus I type a very short, polite reply stating that fact and wishing them good luck, and giving them the link to the Run the Numbers page on the website. If someone asked me a specific question that I could answer fairly quickly you would give yourself a much better shot at success and getting a useful answer.
I agree with Jason's whole post but I think one key point is worth repeating: you need to do something to move yourself closer to your goals. I think a key mistake which is commonly made is that people think that this something has to be a big something. This thought is a dream killer because it stops people from working towards something they really want because the end goal seems impossible. Just do a little something: maybe write a few sentences of a business plan, or open a savings account and put $50 in it, or maybe something even smaller than these tasks. Just do a tiny something every single day and after awhile you will realize that you've accomplished a lot, probably more than you ever thought possible.
With that, on to some pictures of the retirees ……
Snappy and Lightening; Snappy is a Polish bred horse that competed in eventing through the four star level before becoming a hunter. Lightening is an Arabian and was a trail horse.
Lucky, Clay and Chili. Lucky was a trail horse, Clay was a race horse on the Quarter Horse circuit before hitting the trails, and Chili was a working cow horse and trail horse.
Missy, former dude ranch pony who was saved from the kill pen by a wonderful family
Lily enjoying a nice roll - I think her rolling form is absolutely perfect in this picture - I give her a 10! Lily is retired from the jumper ring.
Lily finishing up her excellent rolling effort.
Lucky and Chili taking a drink together. During the summer months the troughs are dumped and scrubbed every day. I spray them down with bleach, scrub and rinse once a week. During the cooler months I dump and scrub the troughs about every two to three days. I can't stand dirty water troughs so I engage in a perpetual battle to clean them. It really drives me nuts when I have just filled up a perfectly clean trough with crystal clear water and I hardly get to enjoy the sight for a few seconds before someone comes to take a drink and dribbles grass bits into the trough. Grrrrr.
Slinky, Teddy and O'Reilly. Slinky is a large pony and specialized in the pony equitation divisions. Teddy is a Quarter Horse who was ridden in dressage and Mr. O'Reilly is an Irish bred horse who competed in the jumpers.
Homer, Apollo and Ivan making their way across the pasture for breakfast on a foggy morning. I love the sight of horses coming through the fog for some reason.