Do you ever feel that you and younger members of your family live on different planets? Or worse, that you’re saying all the things that made you cringe when your parents said them to you?
Then the talk turns to horses – and everything fits into place. One of the many benefits of being around horses is that they break through the age barrier. If you own, ride or drive a horse and want the best for him, you’ve got something in common with everyone else in the same situation.
My best hacking buddy is less than half my age. We have a great time, not only because my gelding and her mare are in love but because we encourage each other. Basically, I remind her of how much progress she’s made since she bought the mare and she tries to convince me that I’m not past it.
Between us, we’ve managed to work out solutions to all sorts of problems. For example, I’ve convinced her that she’s ready to bring on a young horse, and she’s encouraged me to set new goals. In both cases, it was a matter of climbing over hurdles of perception.
In her case, it was getting past the Catch 22 that only people experienced in bringing on young horses should attempt to do so. The problem is that no one can explain how you get that experience in the first place. But as she’s discovering, if you and your first project have calm temperaments; you have common sense and a balanced seat; and you’re prepared to take your time, you can do a great job.
In my case, it was accepting that I might not be comfortable jumping huge fences any more, but I could have equal satisfaction turning in a good round over an 80cm course. I’ve also learned that I can be a part-time dressage diva at lower levels rather than someone who once thought that the only point of schooling on the flat was to improve a horse’s balance and adjustability over fences.
The greatest gift, though, is that a bond achieved through the horses can extend to other areas of your life. On our first ride out after I got a helmet cam, my hacking buddy suddenly looked horrified and asked if our conversations would be recorded. When we realised that this was the case, she burst out laughing and pointed out that we could never let our husbands listen to the playback.
It isn’t that we moan about them – honestly. It’s more that they might not understand the subjects that come up. On this occasion, it was everything from pensions to fingernails, and that was on top of the horsey stuff.
A friend whose teenage daughter is going through the roll eyes/shrug shoulders/flounce off stage every time she’s asked a question says that if it wasn’t for the fact that they both love horses, they’d be communicating only through text messages. Even then they’d argue, because she hts msgs w no vwls.
All it takes to ratchet down the tension is a suggestion that they do something horse-related, as long as it’s not looking for matchy-matchy horse equipment. As she says, a parent has to draw the line somewhere.
Although it’s a cliché, age can sometimes be just a number and horses are the best number-crunchers ever. If you and a friend or family member have broken through the barrier, we’d love to hear your story!