12 steps for horse addicts: Are you codependent or resplendent?

“Hi. I’m _____, and I am a horse addict.”

OK, I admit it. I’ve been addicted to horses for longer than I can remember, from the very first muzzle nuzzle. This may be a hard habit to break. In fact, I’m not sure I want to.

Not to stir up trouble … but perhaps that’s the mane point.

Still, it seems somehow prudent to propose a 12-step program for horse addicts. After all, there seems to be a 12-step program for nearly every other sort of addiction.

So, with all due apologies to existing recovery programs (which honestly do a world of good for innumerable individuals), here are my 12 Steps for Horse Addicts.

Remember, you herd it here – at The Mane Point.

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12 Steps for Horse Addicts

Hold on tight. This may be a rough ride … or not.

1. The horse addict must admit that he or she has become powerless over the overpowering addiction to horses – and this his or her life has become unmanageable (or unstable).

After all, the first step is always to recognize that the addiction exists. In the case of a horse addiction, of course, the best course is simply to enjoy it with unbridled enthusiasm.

2. The horse addict must come to believe that a higher power (such as a precise piaffe, a clean round of show jumping, a flawless trail pattern, or a record-breaking rodeo ride) could restore him or her to sanity.

What greater pleasure might there be for a horse addict than to feel the power of a perfect ride (particularly if the horse show judge happens to be looking)?

3. The horse addict must make a decision to turn his or her entire financial assets over to the care and training of his or her horses.

Horse addicts understand the benefits of reining in horses, but equine-related expenses may be another matter altogether.

4. The horse addict must make a searching and fearless inventory of the contents of every saddle and tack shop within a 100-mile radius, as well as many online vendors.

This inventory, of course, is ongoing. To a horse addict, the hunt for tacky items is a good thing. With this in mind, many an equestrian has sought a sponsor to further the cause. Recovery or enablement? You be the judge.

5. The horse addict must admit to God, himself or herself, and everyone else that he or she would rather talk about horses than any other subject that may be suggested.

Let’s face it. No genuine horse addict wants to be corralled into conversing upon topics that run far afield of things equine.

6. The horse addict must be fully prepared to drop everything for any chance to saddle up – anytime and anywhere – at a moment’s notice.

Spontaneity is an essential component of horse addictions. In fact, most horse addicts actually consider saddles and bridles optional, giving themselves liberty to ride anytime and anywhere without warning.

7. The horse addict must humbly ask his or her horses for forgiveness for each day that he or she has failed to provide carrots, horse cookies, and other treats – or thorough grooming.

The good news is that horses tend to be forgiving creatures, eager to accept gifts and grooming from those who will humble themselves enough to curry favor by offering such amends.

8. The horse addict must make a list of all significant humans (family members and friends) with whom he or she has failed to spend quality time … and shred that list on the way to the barn.

It’s all about priorities, when it comes to horse addictions. True horse addicts care not about jockeying for social position. They often buck the system, because their real acceptance comes in the pasture.

9. The horse addict must make amends to significant humans he or she may have offended through lack of attention, except when to do so might detract from the attention required by his or her equine companions.

Again, proper priorities will spur horse addicts to make the appropriate choices here.

10. The horse addict must continually update personal inventories of riding apparel and equipment, supplementing these supplies with additional items whenever possible.

For a true horse addict, this step is a cinch.

Still, relationships may be breeched when significant others do not share the same passion for things equine. This is the point, in the 12-step process, for tough love. If a significant other does not come to a point of acceptance of the horse addiction, then perhaps it is time to give that individual the proverbial boot.

11. The horse addict must seek every opportunity to improve his or her contact with horses (as he or she understands horses), making every conceivable effort to learn more about horses and to gain experience and expertise in enjoying equines.

Well, duh. Even a numnah knows this step is a given for horse addicts.

12. The horse addict must admit to having had a spiritual awakening, recognizing that horses are essential to happy and healthy living and that the horse addiction is one well worth preserving. In addition, the horse addict will strive to carry this important message to other potential horse addicts.

"Horse poor, Heart rich. 
Ask me now. I'd never switch." 
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Ever herd of hippotherapy? Hey, horse addiction is therapeutic. Nearly everyone knows that a bit of horseback riding is good for one’s balance. Before anyone mounts a campaign against horse addiction, a key question must be addressed:

How many other addictions can actually improve balance?

C’mon. Pony up. Swing one leg over the saddle, and you’ll be hooked.

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