As a girl I dreamed of being a famous horseback rider but my family didn't have the resources to fund that dream. It's a story I know many of you can relate to. 

This is my story, a story of a girl who dreamed too much and hoped for too much. A story that you can relate to.

In this day and age where the TV blasts stories of animal cruelty and animal abuse and neglect it is easy to think about those offenders as nameless, faceless monsters. However, they are people. Maybe even someone you can relate to.

It is June 2008 and I meet my horse, Julie. She is big and beautiful and I know I can't afford her but sometimes logic gets thrown out the window. As anyone reading this understands me when I saw there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a person. I was a college student with one horse already. I decided to sell my gelding and buy her.

I've always had a thing for mares. 

I worked hard and scrimped and saved and wished and dreamed. I even sold my car. All for that big bay mare. I bought her and sold the gelding. Things fell together.

I never stopped dreaming. 

The story is full of bumps and dreams fulfilled and dreams destroyed. The story is a tumultuous sea storm of dreams and reality.

Julie and I graduated college (more than a few times I almost sold her). We went back to my home state where I landed a job as a riding instructor, horse trainer and barn manager. A new dream emerged. I was secure and making enough money; I was paying the bills.  I wanted to breed Julie because I wanted something of her once she passed from this world.

I received some money from my dad's estate and used it to begin the journey of breeding her. Those fiscally responsible folks are smacking themselves as they wonder what was I thinking. You see, I am a dreamer not a realist.

The pregnancy was difficult. Many unexpected vet bills and the clawing worry that Julie would die during parturition or shortly thereafter. I was getting overwhelmed at work. Things weren't making sense and I just needed to do something else.

I follow Camelot Horse Weekly on facebook and one week I saw a homely little pinto mare and I thought- I have the money and she doesn't seem like anyone wants her. I'll get her as a project and sell her for a profit. Yes, those who are fiscally responsible have stood up by now and yelled what was she thinking?  I am a dreamer not a realist.

I bought the little mare and realized she wasn't what I expected. She had lumps and was very underweight. She didn't like people and was hard to catch. She was not going to be a "flip" horse. The vet bills for my very pregnant mare were piling up and I wanted to kick myself in the rear. I was stupid. At work I snapped I couldn't handle it any more; those of you who understand burn out know what I mean when I say that I was having panic attacks driving to work and that every day I counted the minutes until I left. I had no desire; no passion for teaching and it showed.

I told the barn owner I needed time off and never went back (I made sure she had replacement trainers) without having another job lined up.

I had three horses, no job and bills for both me and them. Somehow I was able to hold on and pay what I could but this story took a turn for a worse when the job I was working (commission only) was barely paying me $200 a week. I applied for hourly jobs but no one got back to me. I went on interviews but no one wanted a former a horse trainer because the skills I had weren't respectable in other industries.

The holiday season hit and I was able to get by. I thought I had things covered. Then I didn't; I put mare and foal up for sale had someone interested but then she only wanted the filly. I couldn't let them be separated the filly was barely 4 months. I said, no go. (Oh, how you fiscally responsible people must hate me... just remember I'm a dreamer).

Then, a bright light, someone wanted to lease Lexy, the rescue. Who had developed large lumps but besides that was healthy and happy. Then they decided they wanted a horse they could ride. So, I had three horses, a small income and the stacks of bills growing taller and taller.

At this point in time it seems that my luck (or stupidity) has run out. I had dreamed so much; had hoped that may be dreaming would be enough but now I know that I was wrong. The clock is ticking and the horses must go by tonight. The barn owner has had enough of my shenanigans and empty promises. I never intended to do either.

I thought I was a woman of my word. But I guess being a dreamer means that I lied. I still intend to make good on my promises; Time ran out. People lost faith in me; or maybe I lost faith in myself.

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on March 10, 2014 at 2:18pm

You are not the only one to dream big, Felicia.

I did too.

However back in the 1970's to 1990's the economy was MUCH better, and there was money sloshing around the economy that has disappeared in the last 20-30 years.  The real (not the made up by economists) inflation rate was lower, hedge funds were a relatively minor issue, and lots more middle class people were around.

I am sorry that you are in this position.  Yes, some of it was your fault.  But a lot of the reason for your problems is this new reality we live in now, much less prosperous for the "common people", the veterinary bills are going through the roof, feed prices tripling, etc., etc., etc..

After 30 years of owning horses I stopped replacing the horses when they died off.  My last one was put down almost a decade ago.  I am now on disability (MS) and I know that there is NO WAY I can afford a horse or take care of one.  Instead I help riding stables support their horses by paying to ride them (read my blogs here on Barnmice.)

These are tough times Felicia.  The recession never ended for the bottom 90% of the population.  I have a feeling that 50 years from now historians will call the decade of 2010-19 the Second Great Depression. 

When you recover from this trauma (and yes, this is a very traumatic thing to go through) I hope that you will get back to riding.  There are horses at lesson stables and rental stables that deserve to be ridden by a good rider occasionally.  These horses can be very challenging (you want me to do WHAT?), but I have gotten further in becoming a good rider on these throw-away horses than I did on my own horses.  It is a LOT easier to control what you spend on a horse when you do not own it.

May you have the best of luck in your life from now on.  Just realize it may not look like your dreams. 

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