“You’re not getting any exercise. You’re just sitting there and the horse is doing all the work!”
Decades later I can still hear my mother mocking me as she stood safely several feet back from the fence, giving the stink eye to my teenage love, a Quarter Horse named Duchess. Mother was wrong. I was getting a full body work out whenever I was with my horse, and my mind was wiped clean of all my troubles, being replaced with happy thoughts. Bliss with horses. That’s what I’ve found.
Being around horses is magical, soothing, and healing, especially to people who are lonely, having a bad day, or not feeling well. Our horses make us responsible for their comfort and wellbeing. No matter how bad we’re feeling we still have to feed them and tend to their needs. Sometimes they bring us out of our shells and bad moods and help us heal when they nudge us with their noses and look at us with their big, kind eyes. Our bodies are constantly moving when we’re around horses: cleaning stalls, hauling water, grooming, and riding. Working with horses exercises just about every muscle in our bodies, including our happiness zone. It’s how we find bliss with horses.
Horse ownership is doable in small towns and rural areas, but not in larger cities unless the owner has a high disposable income. Although horse ownership is not realistic for many people, here are 8 ways you can find bliss with horses.
1.Take riding lessons. Prices fluctuate depending on location and whether the lesson is private or a group. Expect to pay upwards of $60/hour in the New York City area for a group lesson and $30 and up in the Phoenix area.
2. Book a trail ride. Prices vary across the country. A 2-hour guided ride on Maui is $100 and up and a similar length ride in Colorado is around $60.
3. Lease or partial lease a horse. Leasing can be done privately directly with a horse owner or through programs offered by riding stables. This is a stepping stone for someone who wants to spend more time riding and working with horses before deciding on full ownership.
4. Volunteer at a horse rescue. Usually a Google search for “horse rescue” and your city, state, or province will bring up a list. Volunteers are needed to assist with horse care, barn work, riding, and public relations.
5. Volunteer at a therapeutic riding center for the disabled. An online search will bring up one or two facilities within driving distance for facilities that teach physically and mentally disabled persons how to ride a horse. Volunteers are needed for leading horses or walking alongside during riding sessions.
6. Look for riding buddy ads. A person with several horses might need assistance exercising them, usually no strings attached, and no payment exchanges hands. It would be nice if you brought in carrots or a sack of grain.
7. Barter work for horse privileges. Horse boarding stables and private farms might be open to negotiating lower rates in exchange for work. It never hurts to ask!
8. Hang out at a racetrack. Walk around the barn area and chat to horsemen and women about their horses. Barn staff love talking about their horses and many owners and trainers are open to letting you pat, brush, or walk out their horses.
If you’re thinking of spending more time with horses, and you need any type of horse gear, I recommend HorseLoverz. They have excellent prices on horse tack and riding apparel and often have sales. Disclosure: if you click the above HorseLoverz banner and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission for the referral.
Do you have any tips on how to find bliss with horses?