The question in the title above, was asked of me when I was just a child by my dad. At the time we did not own any horses but I was a horse crazy little girl and the world stopped if I saw a horse. After what must have looked like bewilderment on my face, my dad explained the question a bit more for me. He was asking if I owned a horse and for some reason I could no longer ride that horse, what would I do? Back then the question puzzled me for a bit and after some thought I said I would still keep my horse.
As an adult I have had several incidences of putting my dad’s question to the test. The first time was 20 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter. In those days we boarded our horses. I was able to ride and take care of my horse for the first 6 months of my pregnancy. After that time riding became slightly awkward and I felt off balance. My husband took over the care of our horses till after our daughter was born. It was during that same time period that many other women at the boarding stable were also having children and their husbands or other family members convinced them to sell their horses and concentrate on their babies. Sorry but that was not for me.
The next time came 10 years ago when I retired one of our best riding horses. He had developed arthritis in his hips and I could tell that he was ready for a well-deserved retirement as a pasture puff. We were now horse property owners and the cost of retiring him was almost non-existent. All he needed was senior feed and joint supplements. He was only 18 years old at the time and had taught countless people how to ride, was shown by me, my husband and my daughter in western pleasure and trail. He enjoyed his pasture retirement, playing with our other horses till he passed away at the age of 26.
In 2008 when the Great Recession hit its peak, I became one of the many unemployed. While we still had income coming in I spent 2 years not riding out of fear of getting injured. We could not afford a hospital bill during that time. The fear was probably only in my head as I have had only 2 incidents of coming off a horse in 25 years, neither of them involved going to the hospital or doctor. During that entire period of 2 years, none of our horses, we had 6, were sold (nor did it enter my mind to sell any of them) and all of them kept in good health and well fed. They all joined my retired gelding mentioned above as pasture pets.
The recession ended at our house in 2010. Of the remaining former 5 pasture pets only 2 of them are worked. One is ridden and one is driven. The others will remain with us with no thoughts of selling them and they will probably live another 10 or more years each.