Your mental health and your horsey life

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I've been absolutely mentally crushed when horses get injured or sick. i think that's the time I've been the lowest in recent times.

and conversely, when they are going really well i feel very resilient to all the other crap that life throws at you.

the routine of having to get up and care for them is really good for me, it makes stuff like work pressures etc stay on a fairly even keel.
Milliepops totally gets it
Since Harry PTS 3 weeks ago and the (sucessful) battle to save Dexter after, I’ve been caught in this rollercoaster of anguish I am struggling to escape from.
Yet I persevere because I do have Dexter - the absolute love of my love- still got a weird lameness (will do a separate thread for that) , 29yr old Nod still happy in retirement ( Dex and Nod in my avatar) and my two fluffies - traditional cobs now 3&4 are an absolute delight with their joyful approach to the world - can spend hours watching them wrestle and charge around - OH calls it tumble tots! The older one, Coco had just done his first TOYS and placed 3rd or 4thin every class he did inc dressage , concours and Open workers - my first proper ridden show since my surgeries from Feb - May & my wonderful trainer has had an incredible season doing dressage in him winning 12 out of 14 tests inc earlier this week when he won his class (aff judge) by 12%!! So a real competition prospect for the future

As someone once said to me “ it’ll either get better or worse, it won’t stay the same”
 

Sossigpoker

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I lost two horses in 2019 and I wouldn't say it damaged my mental health, it broke my heart and I'm still grieving but I don't consider that to be poor mental health.
After breaking my back I initially decided not to ride or have a horse again but it quickly became apparent that I need the lifestyle to keep me mentally balanced.
It's all about the relationship with my horse, that's what calms and settles me and keeps me focused.
Things going wrong or the horse being hurt are upsetting but overall the active lifestyle and the bond with my horse is what I need to cope with life.
 

New2this

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I have had mental health issues for years. In fact, I think I have always had mental health issues.

As a kid, being around horses was the only time I was really happy. But I really wanted my own. My sister was bought two. Having my own pony was dangled in front of me for good behaviour etc. My father would buy me the classified pony advert magazine every week and we d go through it, circling the possibilities. I begged and begged, but they were never going to do it. I don’t blame them. At the time I wanted it, we just didn’t have the money. But it was hard to understand.

My 30s were awful. Loss, career failure, etc etc. Then Covid hit, with all the isolation and anxiety. I thought my head would explode. So I bought a horse. It is the most insane thing I have ever done. I am known as the steady one in my family. But on a whim, with only 6 months back in the saddle, I went out and bought a horse.

I nearly imploded the first week. Horse went lame, talk of pre existing condition, buted for sale, retirement etc. Thought I had done something really really stupid. But he came right.

I love being around him so much. The calm. My thoughts quieten. I talk to him. He seems to listen. There is the very beginning of a bond. Riding him in the countryside is the closest I have been to happy in so so long.

But I totally get what others have said about when it goes wrong.... I m only at the beginning of it, but even now the idea of him being in pain with an uncertain future fills me with dread.

What I do know - I am not selling him. I could not bear the thought of him falling into wrong hands. Already he has cost me a small fortune (physio coming tomorrow again). But I have an idea that we found each other. He found an owner that won’t ask him to do anything that he can’t do, will give him time and what he needs to be sound. I found a horse that will try his best, take care of me in the saddle and enjoys being around me as I potter around him telling him about my day.
 

Julia0803

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Like others have said, the lows are mentally crushing.

My heart horse did a soft tissue I injury late august/September last year. It’s been a year in limbo of boxrest, inhand walking, trying to cope with a deeply unhappy horse, start to get better, just start feeling it might be ok… reinjure. I don’t think I’ve ever cried like it. Pick yourself up. Try again, back to boxrest. Completely out of character dangerous behaviour. Turn away. Supposed to be reviewed by the vet on Monday. In my gut I know it’s not going to be a positive outcome.

This was from a super subtle lameness that initially no one but me thought existed. And I think it’s going to be career ending. Crushed doesn’t come close.

I am starting to think of another. I don’t think I could never ride again. So I’ve started looking (which is stressful and scary in itself)… but the little voice in the back of my head is still whispering… ‘nice horse…. But it’s not him’.
 

scats

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I do worry how much my mental health is entwined with my horses. If they are ok and everything is going well, I feel completely at ease and like I can cope with anything. However, if one of them isn’t right, I can feel myself go into a complete downwards spiral and everything just seems so hard.
I’m the first to admit that I don’t think that’s a particularly healthy way to be, at least not for me anyway. It’s scary how quickly I can go from being absolutely fine to feeling at rock bottom, simply as a result of something happening with the girls.
 

Birker2020

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Most definitely. I lost 4 in a row in under 7 years (no fault of mine I might add) and each one was like a sledgehammer to my heart, I loved them all in their own way and it was incredibly bad luck, but then I have known other people lose a succession of horses similar to my situation so I know its not just me.

My Mum and Dad thought I would give up along the way but I didn't and I have recently lost my 6th horse but after owning her for 17 years so it felt like at least I'd had a chance and getting to know a horse and growing older with one which was nice for a change. And yes it hurt like hell to let her go but it was better than only having one for a year or two years and then they died which was totally devastating and meant I went on anti depressants in the end - hardly any wonder!

I have found a lot of stress with horse owning though, in particular when they go wrong! And then when they have gone wrong and you get them right again its very stressful to make sure that they stay that way!

And lock down was incredibly stressful because I was bringing my horse back from a check ligament injury and needed to rehab her using an ultrasound machine lent to me by a physio. This took ten minutes every day to use but I was glad I did because she had an amazing recovery and the check ligament healed really well, the vet saw the before and after scan and felt it was nothing short of a miracle, but boy did I put the work in before lock down had a chance to kick in. But when lock down kicked in those precious 10 mins for the ultrasound machine that my girl needed were out of an allotted time of 1 hr per person per horse given to us by the YO. And to muck out, groom, change rugs, wet nets, make up feeds, pick out feet, ice boots and bandage was very hard, if not impossible in an hour time slot.

I can see why the hourly slot was brought in due to Covid but it drove me to tears on more than one occasion and was incredibly stressful.
 
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Griffin

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16 September 2012
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My mare is pretty essential to my mental health these days and I was beside myself when Covid rules meant that I may not have been able to see her daily (my plan was to move her to a relative's yard if needed but thankfully my yard owner decided that it was better for owners to continue to come up as long as there were not too many people about at any one time). I could not have got through the last 18 months without seeing her daily and just have a couple of hours a day that were 'normal'.

I look after my mare but also an elderly TB and and elderly pony too (both semi retired). I enjoy riding but I get such joy from looking after horses and just being with them, I always have done, even from a very young age. I think horses have always been my 'happy place' and comfort during good times and bad.

Obviously, when horses are ill, that is stressful but I would argue that any pet being ill/injured brings the same level of stress and upset.
 

milliepops

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Obviously, when horses are ill, that is stressful but I would argue that any pet being ill/injured brings the same level of stress and upset.
I don't know, I've been sad when other pets are unwell but with the horses there's an additional kind of fear or mourning about what you hoped to achieve together in the future, totally selfish but for instance when I've had a horse suffer a soft tissue injury there's the additional worry that what you were training for has just slipped through your fingers.
I don't have that with any other animals. I'm getting closer to some horsey bucket list things with my current competition horse and there's a lingering fear hanging over me that it could all be blown away by a mis-step in the field or whatever. she has a home for life obviously but the thought that 7 years of training towards a goal can be obliterated is additional heartbreak.
 

Equine_Dream

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I suffer with anxiety. Spending time with my horses, riding etc really helps to calm my nerves when I'm having a bad day. They are a source of calm and were an anchor during the lockdowns.

BUT.....

They are also a CAUSE for my anxiety. I know I drive my poor husband round the bend with my constant worrying and "what if this happens" when it comes to the horses.

On balance however, my mental health is far better with them than without
 

Griffin

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I don't know, I've been sad when other pets are unwell but with the horses there's an additional kind of fear or mourning about what you hoped to achieve together in the future, totally selfish but for instance when I've had a horse suffer a soft tissue injury there's the additional worry that what you were training for has just slipped through your fingers.
I don't have that with any other animals. I'm getting closer to some horsey bucket list things with my current competition horse and there's a lingering fear hanging over me that it could all be blown away by a mis-step in the field or whatever. she has a home for life obviously but the thought that 7 years of training towards a goal can be obliterated is additional heartbreak.
I don't really ever compete mine, so she is really just a giant pet. I do get upset when she is injured but I can absolutely understand that if you want to compete, there is an extra layer of sadness.
 

Jellymoon

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‘The cause and solution to all of life’s problems’, I like that! Sums it up.

They are obsessive and can take over your life, and when things are going wrong they can affect your mental health and therefore impact on the people on your life. The expense of them is not easy to deal with either.

I do think, if possible, you have to try to keep perspective. I make a point of making sure I spend time with non-horsey people, and trying not to talk horses too much with my OH. I think also, be selective about what you talk to horsey ‘friends’ about. There’s a lot of guilt and judgy-ness re horses, so for eg I have two horsey friends I trust and I will talk to about issues I may have with horses. To everyone else, things a fine, nothing to see here….

You have to protect yourself a bit, I think.
 

Tarragon

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I find that when I go to the stables that all other worries seem to disappear, even when I am just poo picking. I ride in the mornings, before work, and a good ride sets me up. I love being outside, in all weathers, and feel close to nature. I am nearly always on my own as it is just a working farm so not a classic horsey livery yard. I come back grinning and the day flows.
Don't get me wrong, they can also worry you and can take up an awful lot of head space, but for some reason it all falls into a different and separate category to everything else
 

skint1

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I have long standing mental health issues that pre-date my regular involvement with horses. In general, the horses help- they are an anchor, a reason to get up, a focal point, - but sometimes I feel inadequate as an owner and certainly a rider, I get anxious, I lack confidence, I make stupid decisions, I do stupid stuff. Every horse I've had the pleasure to own has blatantly been too good for me but I have loved them all. They cost a lot and take a lot of time, I am also blessed with a wonderful family, great (non horsey) friends, a good job and I wonder if I spend too much time at the yard, so I do have to ask myself -is that fair, are my priorities right? I feel sometimes they might not be. I am not even riding right now, and that is a stick I use to beat myself, and of course just generally there is judgement, some well meaning, some not- and I myself judge others, sometimes well meaning and sometimes not, and then I feel bad about that. Anyway, long story short- my mental health has been both improved and challenged by my horsey life.
 

ycbm

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People talk about how being around horses is good for mental health but in terms of buying horses, riding horses, caring for horses, has your mental health ever affected any of this for better or for worse, or has anyone elses mental health suffered a lot because of your passion for horses
You first.

Your question sounds like you are going to turn the answers into an article for sale to someone. It would be normal to offer a bit of yourself first, I think, if starting a thread like this.
.
 

Tiddlypom

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You first.

Your question sounds like you are going to turn the answers into an article for sale to someone. It would be normal to offer a bit of yourself first, I think, if starting a thread like this.
.
It's a journo fishing again, isn't it? Without any of the usual touchy feely preamble.
 
Joined
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Your question sounds like you are going to turn the answers into an article for sale to someone. It would be normal to offer a bit of yourself first, I think, if starting a thread like this.
It's a journo fishing again, isn't it? Without any of the usual touchy feely preamble.
I didn't want to bother people with my own stuff but I think my first post on here https://forums.horseandhound.co.uk/threads/how-to-change-whats-wrong-with-me-rant.807216/ sums it up.
 

Mrs Jingle

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I am 72 years old and have been riding/had my own since the age of 3. Apart from a good few months off when I broke my neck many, many years ago and my husband sold my horses as he thought I would never ride again, he was very wrong, I got very depressed and soon bought one of them back again!

I have always had horses and donkeys. My old mare had to be retired 2 years ago after on going problems with Lymes disease. So for my 70th birthday I treated myself to a beautiful big IDX, he was aged 10 and I thought I was in with a good chance of still being able to ride him until I am at least 80 - God willing!

Unfortunately after just one year of owning him I had an accident (on the ground not riding) and end result I am now waiting for two new hips. First one should be done in 10 weeks time. In the meantime his previous owner is very kindly looking after him until I am fit to ride again, hopefully by next spring. Although I still have my retired horse and two donkeys, that I enjoy just faffing around with, I do find I am getting more and more depressed as the months of non riding go by. I thought just looking after them was enough for me after nearly 70 years riding, but sadly not for me. I still have the yearning to ride every day as I always have done, I am struggling mentally a bit now I have to say, which is very unlike me and I have always coped pretty well with all the crap side like sick horses and PTS etc. etc. but not being able to ride has floored me, literally!
 

SO1

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I have sacrificed a lot to have my own pony. Now aged 48 I am still renting and single. I bought my pony when my friends started getting married and having kids. The last 14 years of ownership have not been easy however I am not sure how I would have got through the last 18 months without him, living on my own far from my family and closest friends. The yard was my place where I could be out of the flat and occasionally see another human being. If I had not had my pony I think I would not have seen people for many many months due to Covid.

The low are really low mainly when there are big vet bills. As he gets older I know it will get harder. Money I think is the hardest thing and time. However he has been my constant companion over the last 14 years and when things are going well being with him makes me temporarily forget the stress and sadness that I feel.

Sometimes I feel my life might have been better without a horse more financial security, perhaps I might have had more time and met a partner. But on the other maybe I would just have spent a lot of the last 14 years sitting alone at home feeling sad and lonely rather than enjoying riding, grooming and hanging out with my pony and yard friends.
 

windand rain

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I really don't think I could live without them I hate people but having to do the horses keeps me in contact with people. Their needs even when needing decisions made are now my reason to get up in the morning. I am a bit OCD about them and probably a bit controlling but they are what I live for. OH is very supportive He is the only person who gets it. Don't get me wrong I love my kids and grandkids but the ponies are what keeps me going. Never had diagnosed mental health problems so don't know what not having them would do for my long term health but short term it was awful
 

ycbm

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Teaboy

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They have affected it in both ways. They have helped significantly when I have gone through very hard times, but they have also put me in a mentally delicate place albeit the times they have helped, and how much they have far outweighs the down times.
 

Boots*McGruber

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The responsibility of horse ownership does create extra pressure in my life, in particular the financial commitment but when I go for a ride I just love the time I get to spend with my horse.
 

Caol Ila

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I'm sorry I didn't spot that, you certainly shared there.

I go totally doolally if I can't ride. Unfortunately it does have to be riding, just being with horses isn't enough. Though I would be even more doolally if I didn't own any horses.
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I have also worked that out the hard way. I'd bought the 2-year old hoping Gypsum would rally for another summer, another year, but when I had retire her completely, I made the decision to get a riding horse as soon as I could. Takes the pressure off the youngster, and stops me from going doolally.
 

SatansLittleHelper

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If I kept mine at a livery yard I suspect my mental health would go south very quickly because, well, people 🤷‍♀️
I like people on my own terms, not when I'm forced to interact with them so a livery yard would probably break me.
As for the horses themselves, yes they are stressful at times but the benefits far outweigh any negative impact. I have chronic health issues and long term depression and anxiety, the horses have been good for that, definitely.
 
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i had an eating disorder back in 2018 and horses helped me immensely
i knew that if i wanted to ride again, i’d need to be strong enough and to be strong enough, i needed to eat. they were my motivation for recovery and now my safe space when things feel like they’re getting dark again.
 

Jim bob

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i had an eating disorder back in 2018 and horses helped me immensely
i knew that if i wanted to ride again, i’d need to be strong enough and to be strong enough, i needed to eat. they were my motivation for recovery and now my safe space when things feel like they’re getting dark again.
Agree. I was at the point where i would regularly collaspe, so i didnt ride as i didnt want to fall from him. So in that sense i had to eat and be healthy to ride my horse.
 
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