I’m about to turn 40. Let me just put that out there. I’m about to turn 40 and I still don’t have my own horse. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to own a horse more than anything else in the world. I’m a Type-A, goal-oriented person. When I decide I want something, I get organized, set a deadline and take steps to achieve my objective. But my plan to own a horse has met with horrible failure.
I rode as a child and constantly begged my parents for a horse. “You can buy your own horse when you’re older,” they always responded. As a teenager, I continued to ride. I dreamed about living on my own horse farm in the future. I told myself: After college I’ll have a job. I’ll own a horse by the time I’m 25. Then I made the decision to attend law school. My 25th year came and went with no horse in sight. I’ll have my own horse by the time I’m 30, I promised myself. But I did not have the time or the energy to have a horse while struggling to meet my billable-hour requirements. As I sat miserably at my desk, I dreamed about horses. I took riding lessons once a week. I competed in an occasional schooling show. I yearned for a horse of my own.
Meanwhile, life continued, but not always as planned. After a failed engagement, I moved from Colorado to downtown Chicago. Once a week, I drove to a barn an hour outside the city for lessons. Being around horses allowed me to breathe, helped me reconnect with myself and pulled me out of a deep and debilitating depression. My 30th year came and went. A horse still wasn’t in my budget. I transitioned from law to real estate. I saved money in my “horse” account. I accumulated all of the things needed to ride and care for a horse—brushes, saddle pads, boots, sprays and polishes. When I get my horse, I will be ready! I told myself.
I married a wonderful man who was fully aware of my horse addiction. We moved into a beautiful house that was 15 minutes closer to the barn. I’ll have my own horse by the time I’m 35, I promised myself. Then my husband and I decided to start a family. My 35th year came and went. Two kids later, I continued to ride every week, but there was no money available to buy my own horse. I promised myself, I will own my dream horse by the time I’m 40.
So here we are. It’s the eve of my 40th birthday. The horse ownership thing isn’t happening. My kids are 4 and 6 years old now. I’m a stay-at-home mom and part-time writer. Four years ago, we moved to my home state of Michigan, to a rural area close to horses. I ride at a beautiful barn 10 minutes from home where I recently started leasing a lovable 9-year-old gelding named Louie. I competed in my first “B” show this past summer. My friends at the barn always ask when I’ll be buying a horse. “Maybe in a year,” I tell them. I’ve been saying that for three years now. Horse ownership remains financially out of reach for me.
I’ve readjusted my expectations once again. The truth is that I could have owned a horse by now if I had made different choices. I decided that other areas of my life would take priority over owning a horse because I wanted those things, too: graduate school, to live in a city, a nice house. I wanted to get married, have kids and work from home. I am happy to say that at age 40, I successfully reached many of my goals—just not the horse one.
I once heard that you can have it all, but not at the same time. I believe that. I know I will have my horse someday. Until then, I will learn from every ride. I will bask in the glory of every jump taken from the perfect distance. I will welcome the small gifts that horses bring to my life. I will still set goals, but I’ll also appreciate what I have at this moment and enjoy the journey.
Laura Wolfe blogs about writing and riding at www.RockingHorseWriting.com.
This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of Practical Horseman.