Part 1: Sharing Horses with Two Men and a Baby
by Allison Trimble
Over the last 15 years my life has been focused around cow horses and the demands of training them. After completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science, I owned 30—60 horses and ran a performance horse breeding, training and sales operation. From sunrise to sunset, my thoughts were consumed with training, equipment, cattle, feed, healthcare, show strategy and my clients. I had great success, suffered failures and learned many valuable life lessons. Through it all I felt capable and in control of my life and operation.
In 2013 things slowly began to change. I married my husband, Lee, and with him came a darling 4-year-old boy. My time and attention, for the first time, had to be split and it became increasingly obvious that I couldn’t do everything as well as I wanted. I stopped showing and started downsizing my herd to a number I could manage. No longer able to hire help, I took on all the daily chores as well. I would be lying if I said it was pretty. Letting go has not been easy. My identity was so entrenched in the horse industry that there was a lot of personal adjustments: veterinary care was replaced with a pediatrician; lessons were replaced with appointments such as soccer practice, grocery shopping and play dates. Tack and equipment purchases were halted for tiny clothes that seem to be outgrown every two weeks. Horses that once had only the best learned to go barefoot and blanket-less.
I made the decision to keep giving lessons and taking select training horses, but decided to get my real estate license and focus on horse properties. Just when I thought I was getting the hang of things, life “happened” again. Today I am 8 months pregnant, and our family is anxiously awaiting our little filly. I have chosen not to ride for the last 6 months, but continue to do all the daily chores and give lessons. Last week one of my best mares, Tangys Classy Sox, endured a severe 4-day colic and we weren’t sure if she was going to make it. It was agonizing to not be able to give her all the attention I wanted. My new responsibilities didn’t allow me to sleep in the barn, or give her extra special care. In addition, I knew if it turned out to be a surgical colic I couldn’t justify that expense. It all gave me a lot of sleepless nights. As my old fellow competitors showed in Fort Worth, TX at the NRCHA Celebration of Champions, the last horse I showed there pulled through after all, just in time for my baby shower the following day.
Life can challenge those things you know for sure. When horses were my sole focus, I knew that the building of a confident, solid, broke horse needs daily attention that follows certain guidelines. Horses, to me, were relatively easy to understand. Though I continued to learn new things, I always felt competent. Right now, I am struggling to remember the last time I felt competent at anything. I clearly remember the first time I was on a colt in the round pen and a screaming child ran out of the back of the barn brandishing a stick. That was quite a ride. And I remember the first time I left my stalls dirty because there was just literally no time to clean them. My life is now full of things I routinely instructed my clients not to do.
My father always said that in times of stress “revert to form.” I am lucky to have a solid foundation to draw from. So, during sleepless, colic nights and in anticipation of riding again soon I did just that, mentally building a program for my horses and clients that will be successful based on what I know. I have observed many friends and strangers struggle to balance horses with the demands of life. I know that with the baby coming, things will change even more, keeping me temporarily from the place where I have felt most competent. I also know that I need horses as much as I need oxygen. There is a lot of unknown ahead and I think many people—women and men—will identify with my journey. Tune in next month for tips on balancing horse training with real life.
Published April 2015 Issue