BY SHANNON VENEGAS
I’ve been horse-crazy for as long as I can remember.
I was the dorky girl constantly wearing horse shirts and doodling pictures of horses in my notebook. In my journal, under “what I want to be when I grow up,” I always wrote that I wanted to be on an Olympic horseback riding team.
Because of this, almost every job I’ve ever had has been related to horses. Babysitting was never for me — I can only deal with my own kids. Waitressing wasn’t for me either — I have a clumsy habit of spilling and breaking things.
Instead, I started out taking care of my neighbor’s horses and soon worked my way up to bigger barns, where I eventually spent an entire summer working from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. six days a week cleaning, brushing, tacking and riding, all so that I could eventually have a lesson on my own horse and show at championships.
Now, my husband and I own a horse-care company, and I take care of horses all over Waukesha and Walworth counties. My wildest dreams came true, right? Wrong.
Instead, I spend most of my time taking care of everyone else’s horses and rarely have time for my own. I’m lucky if I have time to brush my horse, much less ride. And when I do have time, my thought is usually, “Ugh, but then I have to go get him, brush him, etc.”
Then there’s the fact that I used to love all horses and gave them all the benefit of the doubt. I loved taking care of them because I enjoyed giving them attention. Now, they are all the same to me. I feed them, clean their stalls and get out of there as quickly as possible.
My husband and I have built a business we’re proud of, but it’s not exactly what I had in mind.
Some of us strive to turn our passions into professions — writers, artists, athletes, actors. This is all great if it makes us happy. No one wants to be unhappy with their job. But I also feel as if turning my passion into part of my profession has tainted it.
We see this all the time — athletes who let the money get to them, actors who let the fame get to them. I criticize them all the time for this, yet I’ve been doing it myself.
That’s not to say I don’t take A-rated care of the horses I am in charge of. But I think my motivation has changed.
I hope I can find my way out of this, my way back to my passion. In fact, after I finish this, I am going to ride my horse — no rushing, no bitterness. Just pure enjoyment. That’s the first step.