This is a timely topic for me, as you know, because I wrote about my parent’s horse farm yesterday!
And now I’m writing about it again. My parents have been on their farm in the countryside for 15 years. In some ways, I now live in the countryside too. I love to read about these reasons, because I already had my own, but there are more!
There’s a pretty significant trend these days, one that appears to be growing in popularity practically from day to day, of urbanites of all ages deciding to turn their backs on city living and set off to the countryside in order to find a more peaceful and authentic mode of living.
This trend is fed from many different streams, including the recent surge in popularity of minimalism — a lifestyle ethos which emphasises the importance and value of paring down your physical belongings to the bare minimum, in order to help free yourself from the constant cycle of consumerism that seems to occupy so many of our lives, to such a substantial degree, in the present day.
A well-received documentary made on the subject of minimalism, titled, “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” details the journey of two men who were both at the top of their game in most of the ways that such things are judged. Property, tons of possessions, high-paying, and high-powered jobs in the city. As it so happens, these guys found the rat race to be an ultimately unfulfilling way of life, and did what they could to strip their lifestyles down to the point where they could better appreciate the fundamentals.
Many horse owners effectively rent stable space in the countryside, but live in the city, and visit their animals when circumstances allow.
So whether you’re fed up of the rat race, or just feel drawn to embrace a lifestyle that is closer to the land, here are some reasons why moving out to the countryside can be a great idea both for you and your horses.
It allows you to get back in touch with the fundamentals of life and spend more time with your horses
A famous quote from Henry David Thoreau’s famous work, “Walden”, states:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
This quote describes the author’s motivation for retreating to a small cabin in the woods, for an extended period of time. At first glance, it may seem weird to think that anyone could experience the fundamentals of life, or “really live”, by removing themselves, to a large degree, from society.
The point, however, should perhaps be understood to be that when it’s just us, by ourselves, in a natural environment, we can more clearly get a sense of what it is that we really want from life, and the ways we can set about to attain it, without our thoughts being overly confused our influenced by the constant noise of city living.
Being in nature, or at least, being in more natural and pastoral surroundings, puts us back in touch with some fundamental realities of the world and of life. The rhythms of the seasons, the cycles of night and day, and so on.
Moving to the countryside with your horses will also, of course, give you much more time and opportunity to spend with your horses. Here, your relationship with your animals can develop and you can learn to understand and appreciate more of their idiosyncrasies.
You will also be able to attend to the health of your animals more directly, and can really enjoy and engage with the experience of being a horse owner, 24/7, not just on the odd occasion.
Living on your own plot of land even enables you to take up more advanced equestrian pastimes, including getting involved in professional horse-breeding.
You can spend more time practicing your riding
Horse riding is, of course, the kind of skill that only gets developed through lots of time spent in the saddle. While you may become proficient at the basics, and may become comfortable with your horse’s general personality traits while only getting out to ride every once in a while, you will need to commit to a substantial amount of regular practice in order to be a competitive rider.
When you live in the city and your horses are a significant distance away, getting in this level of regular practice can often be cost-prohibitive.
If you move to the countryside with your horses, on the other hand, and especially if you’re able to stable them on your own property, you can radically and easily increase the amount of practice you get on a routine basis.
This, in and of itself, is a brilliant consideration for any serious riders to consider, whether you’re all about Flat or National Hunt racing.
There’s another obvious bonus to getting more riding time in, too. If you own your own horse and take the time to ride regularly, you presumably enjoy the experience, whether or not you compete in races.
The ability to do some riding on a far more regular basis may, therefore, reduce your overall stress levels and increase your quality of life significantly.
You can build the house (and stable) of your dreams
It’s virtually a universal law that land in the countryside is much cheaper than land in the city, and that planning permissions, zoning laws, and the various possibilities for building the house of your dreams, are far more favourable in the countryside than in the city.
Living in an expensive city, like London, you might well find yourself disheartened on a regular basis by the prospect that no matter how well you seem to be progressing in your career, there just seems no reasonable sign on the horizon that you’ll ever be able to own property in your neighbourhood. Certainly not more than a one bedroom flat, anyway.
As for being able to afford your own home-adjacent stable in the city? Well, unless you win the lottery, you’d probably be better of forgetting that idea outright.
For the same amount of money, or less, as that one-bedroom flat would cost you, you might well be able to buy a large plot of land in the countryside and have your dream house constructed there, or renovate a pre-existing building to create your rural, rustic idyll.
What’s more, you will likely also be able to construct a stable on your land, at a relatively good price, and to your preferred specifications.
Out in the countryside, you can have a garden like you’ve always dreamed of, you may be able to have a well dug on your property, you can adjust and remodel your house until it’s made as perfect as possible — and then you can revisit the project and have it further updated, years later, as your then expanded resources allow for more work to be done. As you acquire more horse, or explore different elements of equestrian living, you can also expand and kit out your stable as needs be.
If “space”, “autonomy”, and affordability sound good to you, moving out to the countryside could be a great idea.
You’ll be positioned to live a healthier lifestyle
There’s a lot of concern these days about where our food comes from, who’s held accountable for its quality, and the impact it might be having on the climate and ecosystem at large. Of course, there are also numerous concern relating to our individual health, with pesticides and antibiotic-fed animals posing cause for concern.
By cultivating your own little plot of land, and growing at least some of your own food, directly, you have all but complete control over the different variables that underlie what lands on your plate at dinnertime.
Living a rural life is also highly likely to be beneficial for your health for a number of other reasons. For one thing, the air quality will be much higher as a rule. For another, there’s research to suggest that just being in a natural setting can have substantial positive effects on health, with people living in green areas suffering from less chronic disease and enjoying better moods on average.
Of course, what goes for you, also goes for your horses. If you’ve currently got someone else stabling and caring for your horses, you can certainly hope they’re doing everything in their power to provide your animals with the best nutrition, the right amount of exercise, and so on.
Still, this relies somewhat on faith.
When you are living in the countryside, directly responsible for your own horses, their diets can be tailored exactly to the specifications you find most meaningful and compelling.
You’ll be free to do your own research, and apply your own findings in horse-care, as you choose.