Time to saddle up your inner Beyonce. And not just the single ladies out there. This includes LBGQT riders or anyone in a relationship who feels alone. Or with the fear their fate is the equine equivalent of Crazy Cat Lady as they age. Ending up that weird horse hoarder with several assorted equines of various sizes, breeds, ages and rideability. Who spends their twilight days cycling between the various yards/paddocks where said horses are kept due to no longer being able to afford a car. Long, unkempt greying hair interwoven with hay flying behind you due to not only being unable to afford a hairdresser either –but no longer caring. This future often includes morphing into Crazy Cat Lady too – returning to a ramshackle cottage over-run with semi-feral moggies after attending to all 17 horses. And as you pour yourself another massive glass of supermarket econo-red, reflecting on the fact that it is now 25 years since you last felt the touch of a man. Yes, that future you, Saddo.
Hit 50 and still single, and this is the fate that will overtake you faster than you can say ‘Destiny’s Child’. I used to be afraid of Crazy Horse Lady or should I say, single horse rider. And I have friends who are afraid of her too. Crazy Horse Lady is the horsewoman of the witching hour and our own personal apocalypse. The dark rider astride the future nightmare called Unloved. Crazy Horse Lady has many horses in her stable but her two favourites are called Insecurity and Self-Doubt. Crazy Horse Lady also has major sponsors. These are the media and society in general which constantly send you messages on her behalf that you are a failure if you fail to join-up with an actual human partner as opposed to a four-legged one. You can win an Olympic gold at dressage. But that simply doesn’t count if you fail to earn yourself a 9 carat gold band on your left hand. Put a ring on it or straight to Crazy Horse Lady territory for you. Loser.
You can be single and seeking. You can have been in a long term relationship and found yourself looking to get back in the saddle again on the love trail. But making peace with Crazy Horse Lady is part of your journey as a rider and in your search for fulfilment if she is your fear. In other words, your inner Crazy Horse Lady needs your love.
I’m a member of several on-line horse forums. A few weeks ago the member of one courageously posted she was lonely. The lady in question lived in the US and lived alone with her horses on a rural property in an extremely beautiful but remote part of the West. This sparked thousands of comments, offers to connect and of course, prompted many more to share their own experiences. The Crazy Horse Ladies had decided to get together and have a pow-wow. What followed was a wild ride of revelations and powerful stuff. For every person who posted they lived alone with their horses and were lonely – there were an equal number with the ‘Sounds like bliss to me’ response.
Perhaps the most heart rending experiences were those posted by people who were married or in long term relationships, but who felt utterly alone in them. The very worst kind of loneliness is the kind you feel when you are with the one person who is supposed to provide the love and companionship you’re seeking, but simply cannot – or won’t. If you ride or you simply love horses, your relationship to your horse becomes your entire focus in your quest for love, connection and fulfilment. Crazy Horse Lady ranch – here you come.
Women dominate the leisure riding sector. And let’s face it – in areas of horsemanship long dominated by men, sisters are now doing it for themselves. Go on to your average livery yard and you’ll usually find only a couple of token males aside from visiting dads/husbands/boyfriends. Keep swiping because this is the last place you’re likely to score that date. The kind of partnership you’re exploring isn’t the human kind anyway. And that’s the key here. Making peace with Crazy Horse Lady begins with understanding you are already in two important relationships. One is with your horse – or horses if you do have more than one. The other is with yourself. Our relationship with ourselves is often the one we pay the least attention to. Yet, it is the only one that is guaranteed to last a lifetime. I know many beautiful single riders of all ages- women, men, straight and LBGQT who are riding on into their future right now without a human partner. They have been in relationships in the past and often these have been long term. Some have been and are still seeking. Some are not. But the place they have arrived at is one where they are happy with their lives as they are and they enjoy their time – with their horses and also doing other things, uncoupled. If this continues and there is no human partner in their future – they are fine with that too. Many respondents to the post I mentioned above reported this. They were happy with their horses, their friends and their own company and if life continued down this trail – it was a pretty good one.
What has this got to do with riding? Actually – more than you think. The Crazy Horse Lady future us we fear turning into is nothing but a product of feeling we are unlovable or not good enough. Feelings although powerful are not facts. We also know the power of our emotions when we ride. If we are anxious, we communicate this to our horse with the result our horse becomes anxious too. The great horse trainers all tell us – it’s not the horse we seek to control – it is ourselves or rather our emotional response. Control that, we control the horse. Changing our emotional response to Crazy Horse Lady or just a fear of staying single, won’t magically conjure up that partner. But it will enable us to love our life as it is right now. And love ourselves more in the process. The ride just gets better even if we are riding alone.
Riding solo whether it is for a while or for the foreseeable future, is very different to being lonely however. The first says you are enjoying yourself and also that you have consciously chosen to do so. The second that this is something you have had no choice in. The effects of chronic loneliness can be devastating to our long term health and wellbeing. And despite the fact we feel isolated if we are lonely, loneliness is society’s silent epidemic. It cuts across all age groups and social strata. Nobody is immune yet admitting it still carries a worse stigma than being a long term single. Yet, as the brave lady who started the conversation in the forum discovered, there is connection out there and others in the same situation just waiting for someone to reach out. Don’t wait for someone else to do that if you are lonely – make the reach yourself. To someone on your yard or if you are on your own with your horses, to that forum, Facebook group or even emailing your local friendly horse blogger. Your inner Crazy Horse Lady will thank you for it as she feels the love.
Crazy Horse Lady and her less well-off sister, Crazy Cat Lady, are after all, not just products of our fear especially as we get older, but of a society that makes us feel something is wrong with us if we’re single or on our own. Couldn’t land a man so you had to make do with horses or cats – or both. There can be 9,999,999 reasons why we are not in a relationship right now and not one of them may have anything to do with us personally or being ‘unlovable’. How many of us know of relationships where one or both parties would be better off ‘consciously un-coupled’ rather than staying joined in misery? That singledom suddenly looks so much better by comparison. Some of us arrive at the place where we actually are perfectly content on our own and don’t want a human partner. And in cases where a disgruntled partner issues the ‘me or the horse’ ultimatum – we know which one wins.
If we are horse owners or regular riders, the biggest pay-off of all in our relationship with our horse, is getting to know ourselves in ways we never dreamed possible. That’s the relationship worth building and the one that leads to satisfaction with our lives – in and out of the saddle or in and out of love. So all you single riders – love the relationship you’re already in with your horse and yourself. Single or settled, choose to make your journey your goal and the ride pure Beyonce. If you have the money and the means – have as many horses/cats/dogs/llama-rama-ding-dongs as you can comfortably care for and which fill your heart with the joy of living. Whether you have a lover or not. Crazy Horse Lady is nothing but a label – not a destiny. And being single doesn’t mean you’re not in a relationship – or alone.
Written by Helen Watts