HAD A BAD DAY? SELL THE HORSE. IT'S ALL TOO EXPENSIVE ANYHOW.

HAD A BAD DAY? SELL THE HORSE. IT'S ALL TOO EXPENSIVE ANYHOW.

October 11, 2018

Two Point—By Darby Bonomi, PhD

I’m thrilled to be a regular contributor for Street to Stable®! I’ve been a long term admirer of Kristin Thornton and her various ventures. Kristin has a unique ability to merge style, practicality and joy into the beautiful website that is Street to Stable. We share the desire to educate, protect and promote the equestrian lifestyle that we deeply value—for one reason only—the love of the horse!

As a psychologist, mother, equestrian, parent of riders, owner and performance consultant, I have worn many hats over many years. I experience our industry from multiple vantage points and have a unique perspective on our sport. I consider myself a lifelong lifelong learner. Although I have ridden for many years, I continue to be a student—of the sport and of the mind—and am humbled by how much there is yet to learn. Every day I find opportunities for growth and enjoyment. Formerly a practicing psychoanalyst, I now consult with riders and their families about a wide variety of concerns; I also continue to compete on the A circuit with my horse Little Wing, and cheer on my 2 daughters who compete alongside (and usually beat) me. I look forward to sharing my perspective with the Street to Stable community.

Column No. 1
HAD A BAD DAY? SELL THE HORSE. IT'S ALL TOO EXPENSIVE ANYHOW.

Guilt and Sacrifice

I’m not serious of course, but I’ve heard essentially those words from so many riders that it has grabbed my attention. Let’s face it: our sport is super pricey. Period. Many outsiders would look at what we spend for a single shoeing and keel over. Most of us riders would never buy $400 shoes for ourselves every six weeks (and of course that is JUST shoeing)! I know that for some money is no object, but most riders have a budget and think about what they spend in relative terms. They make sacrifices in other areas of their lives because they love the sport and the animals. It’s their passion. It’s not logical, but most passions aren’t.

As much as we love riding and competing, many amateurs carry around significant guilt about the money they are spending. This guilt heats up especially when they hit a rough patch in their riding. It might come during a time when their horse is particularly challenging or they are experiencing anxiety about going to the next level. I hear things like: “If I didn’t ride, I could be traveling the world; I could retire early; I could redecorate the house.” The list goes on and on. Sure, you could spend your money—and TIME, by the way—doing many other things. If that is true, then we must ask ourselves—why DO we spend all our resources (time and money) at the barn? What is the meaning of our riding?

Passion and Meaning

Think about it for a bit. Why are YOU passionate about this sport? Is it your drive to refine your riding skills over time? Do you want to win a medal final? Is it about the experience of developing your young horse and seeing her mature or about campaigning your veteran for year-end awards? Is it about triumphing over fears or accomplishing new feats? Or perhaps your passion radiates from the sheer love of your horse. Maybe it’s the equestrian community and the barn relationships that sustain you. These few ideas are the tip of the iceberg in terms of possible meanings for individuals in our sport. The central point is: your firm grasp on what is most meaningful to you—what you are passionate about—will guide you in your decision making and help you stay connected and focused during rough patches.

Lock into Joy

Practically, I do suggest establishing boundaries around the money issue so that rough patches don’t spur you to financial concerns. Constant financial reassessment, especially after a fall or a bad week or month, is not productive emotionally and it’s certainly not good for your riding. I encourage riders and their families to set a realistic budget yearly, review spending quarterly and make decisions accordingly. Consider what level of spending is acceptable and affordable and don’t reassess unless necessary.

Establishing a clear purpose along with setting a financial boundary gives equestrians a structure around their riding which allows them the freedom to dive in. As we know, in riding and other serious pursuits, dipping a toe in isn’t going to work—it won’t lead to fulfillment or mastery. You have to jump in feet first or not at all. If you are continually deciding whether you’re in the sport, then you’re not giving yourself a fair chance. If it’s your passion, then it’s a likely a feeling of joy that motivates you to orient your life around the horses and to make the finances work. Lock into that joy, which is in present time, and I guarantee your experience will expand. With expansion comes fulfillment and accomplishment-in whatever ways those are measured for you. It’s only in this balanced place that you can effectively and holistically evaluate the cost—and the value—of the horses in your life.

CONNECT

DARBY BONOMI, PHD

“A Leg Up to Optimize Your Equestrian Experience”
T: +1 (415) 713-4234



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