We are contacted several times per week by people who want - or at least think they want- to have a business similar to ours. It is no surprise to me that people are pretty enamored with the idea of boarding retired horses, after all we write on this blog all the time about how much we enjoy what we do. However we do get the impression that people often have a very romanticized idea of what this really entails. In general we hear a lot about how nice it would be to work with horses all the time and how relaxing it would be. I agree with the first sentiment but I can't say I would use the word "relaxing" to describe what we do.
1. We work with horses for our job. Who wouldn't want to be able to say that?
2. We get to work outside.
3. We are constantly facing new challenges and subsequently learning new things with each horse that comes along. Our brains definitely stay engaged.
4. We meet and live with some really amazing horses and get to learn about their life stories.
5. We have had the opportunity to get to know many truly outstanding people that we would otherwise have never meet.
6. Our job keeps us in good shape, no worries about gaining weight and getting out of shape sitting behind a desk.
7. Jason and I work together every day.
1. Jason and I work together every day. Some days this feels like a blessing and we feel sorry for all the spouses that spend their days apart. Some days 150 acres is nowhere close to being big enough for the two of us.
2. Horses are not always cooperative, usually when you most need them to be.
3. Horses can and will (usually unintentionally) hurt you, sometimes seriously. Working with horses is not a low risk occupation.
4. The buck stops here. If there is something wrong with a horse, be it minor or major, it is on us to deal with it. It literally does not matter who died, who is getting married, who is visiting, who is sick, etc. No matter how inconvenient it is or what important plans have to be cancelled the horse has to get taken care of and there is no calling the owner and saying "you need to come deal with this." The same is true for non-veterinary issues as well. For example if someone rips a blanket or something along those lines we have to deal with it.
5. People expect you to be available 24/7/365. However just like everyone else we have laundry to do, grocery shopping to get done, a house to clean, etc. We also have friends and family that like to see us on occasion and a little bit of a life outside of work. As much as we love what we do we also need and want to attend to the routine things of life as well. We try very hard not to work on the evenings and the weekends but we don't always get a choice.
6. We work outside. There are many days when I feel so sorry for my friends trapped behind their desks in an office. However when it is cold and raining or really hot and humid I do sometimes envy their climate controlled work space.
7. End of life issues arrive at some point for each resident on our farm. Although we have a lot of experience to draw from when making these decisions it is not something you ever get used to emotionally. Saying goodbye to your friends is really hard.
8. The overhead is tremendous. Land, fences, barns, insurance, run-in sheds, hay, grain, equipment, grass seed, fertilizer and pretty much everything else associated with a horse costs a lot of money.
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A really great, honest and informative post - thank you! I love for people to choose horses as a career but if they go in informed, all the better!
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