Is Your Horse High Maintenance?

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I never really considered my horse Gracie high maintenance. She’s boarded at a really nice barn where many of the boarders compete in Dressage. In the spring, summer and fall, many of their horses are covered head to toe in fly sheets. And in the winter, they are covered in blankets. Gracie, and the other hand, is naked as a jay bird all year round. Well, there is one exception. As a gray horse if it rains and then gets really cold, she has a hard time warming up and drying off. So she wears a rain sheet on days like that.

Food wise, she is the very definition of an easy keeper. So easy, in fact, that she has started wearing a grazing muzzle to help her maintain her girlish (mare-ish?) figure.

Emotionally, though, I would say Gracie is high maintenance. If I am consistent in getting out to the barn and working with her, she stays connected to me. But if I go out to the barn only sporadically, she gets pretty buddy sour. I can usually tell the state of our relationship by whether she comes to me when I call her name or whether she walks away at the first sight of me.

I consider myself a pretty low maintenance person. When it comes to my friendships, I can go months and even years without seeing a friend (or talking on the phone…who DOES that any more?) but when we’re with each other we pick up right where we left off. I’ve probably been projecting this quality on to my horse, because every time I see her, I feel the same way about her. Nothing has changed for me no matter how much time has passed since I last saw her. “There’s my beautiful horse. I’m so happy to see her. Let’s go have fun together!”

Being a good human to a horse, though, means treating them as the individuals they are with their own wants and needs. Gracie needs more of my time and attention to maintain our relationship. That’s a good reminder at this time of year for a Minnesotan like me who tends to hibernate during the long winter. Luckily there’s a lovely heated arena where she is boarded.

If your horse is emotionally high maintenance, be sure to commit (or re-commit) to getting out to the barn regularly - it will be good for your relationship. If your horse is not emotionally high maintenance, still go out to the barn regularly - it will be good for your soul.

Kristen Hall