Hello from the far north, or far south, east or west depending on where you are right now! Anyway I am sitting in southern Sweden, in the heart of Scandinavia at the moment writing to you as winter is finally starting to wrap its fingers around this oblong country home to some nine million souls. So far we have had a mild winter but today when I look outside big snowflakes are gently floating to the ground into a bed of white that I am sure we will have for some time now.
My name is Jason Patterson, writer and columnist for the western lifestyle publication Lucky Rider, who’s readers are primarily within the borders of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland but has subscribers, followers and readers around the globe! The magazine itself is written in Swedish, but since we have an avid following on social media among people with other languages, I thought it only fair to write a few blog posts in English to make things easier to follow along with and to give you a forum to ask questions or share thoughts.
I myself am a native of the great state of Texas, born and raised in a place called Benjamin. How I ended up in Sweden isn’t really relevant for this post, but I can say that I have been married to my wife, a Swedish native, for 12 years now, and have been living in Sweden since April 2000. Since then I have dedicated my life to my family, horses and my love for words, both in English and Swedish. My wife and I have two wonderful little boys whose curiosity, questions and thoughts keep me on my toes, inspired and always waiting for the next day in my life.
I can now speak and write in Swedish, it is common for people to think that I write my articles and columns in English then have them translated by the magazine, but that is not the case. Language to me is fascinating and a lot like working with horses because of the fact that one can never know everything there is to know and one can always improve as long as the desire for knowledge is alive! It’s like the old adage goes, “The more I learn the more I realize how little I know.” Which in my case applies to both language and horses as well as life as a whole.
If you are reading this, then I can assume that you and I as well as the rest of the readers of Lucky Rider share the common love for horses and have or have had some sort of connection to the equestrian world.
I myself have been sitting in the saddle as long as I can remember since I grew up on my family’s ranch in the rugged cow country of north west Texas.
Horses were never anything I asked for but were rather a natural part of my life, a life that has been made richer by the fact that I have seen so many places looking down the neck of a horse and have met so many wonderful people from around the world who share the same interest. I feel very privileged by the fact that I was given the opportunity as a child, and my entire life, to experience the power of a horse and was able to live a life around animals. I have learned many valuable lessons from animals, maybe more so than what I have learned from my own species. Their honesty, consistency of behavior, unselfishness and lack of greed and hate has impacted my life in more ways than possibly imaginable. In a way I guess I have always found security and peace in the presence of a horse.
Now I can only speak from my own experiences, being a man who has lived and had the privilege to experience the equestrian world on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The world has gotten very small, what you will see in the tack room of a swede is pretty much the same as what you will find anywhere else and if you visit a show here you will probably feel right at home no matter where you come from. But it isn’t just the saddles or the disciplines that connect us across the globe but rather the common feeling that is shared from interacting with horses. I guess it doesn’t really matter where you go, the love for horses doesn’t differ. The scenery, languages and the faces maybe very different, but the affection is the same, and it doesn’t matter if it is western, jumping, dressage or whatever you’re engaging in, we are all connected by the universal unspoken language of love and the celebration for an amazing creature.
Equestrians are often criticized by people that don’t understand what it is all about. I touched on this in an earlier Swedish post where I talked about the usual quotes a horse owner can hear from time to time; “Horses just cost money”, “Your investing in an animal that will never give anything back.”, “Your cash is going to end up in a pile of manure.” “It’s just impractical”
Sure, I have been working with and around horses for all of my life, and I am not rich by any means, but because of horses my life is richer in ways that most people just won’t understand and I have lived a life that money just can’t buy.
As a horse owner you make an investment in yourself, your health and well-being, your following your dreams and keeping your passion alive. To me that is about as good of an investment one can make. You’re making a conscious decision to make your life better, or even make your child’s life better and there really no way to put a price tag on that. The rewards far outweigh the costs if you look at the return. I guess the same applies to other things as well, dogs, cars, cats, sports, collecting stamps, or anything that makes you happy. Happiness and wellbeing is never wrong as long as no one or anything else is being hurt in the process. In the chance case that you work with or ride horses and have never felt better about yourself, felt the joy, exhilaration or enjoyed the freedom that resides there then you may be doing it for the wrong reasons.
When I look back on my life of 38 years there is only one point in that life that was really bad, 2 years where I was miserable, it was a time that I surrounded myself with bad people and negative elements. It was in my younger years when I left the ranch for the city. Looking back on that time I can say that it was the only period in my life that horses were absent, whatever I did something was always missing. As soon as I packed my bags and headed back to the country, my life improved drastically, I breathed fresh air, got dirty, smelled the sweat from wet saddle blankets, heard the squeak of leather and felt the freedom of being in a horse’s realm, throwing myself at the mercy of their power each and every day. Horses have never been a hobby of mine rather a partner in work but that takes nothing away from the joy I have felt being in the saddle heading somewhere new and exciting. There is nothing quite like the view of the world between the two ears of a horse with reins in your hand, the air is just fresher up there.
I don’t ride very much anymore, not because the desire isn’t there, but rather because of the fact that I have decided to pursue my other passion which is writing. We have a few brood mares, but due to time issues I just do not get in the saddle very often. I can still look out the window and see them, listen to them snort and buck on of a clear frosty autumn morning, smell the distinct soft scent of the stable when I go outside and stand often still to gaze upon their very existence as they graze in the summer or eat hay in the winter. It does my heart well to have them close and even if I don’t step up in the saddle very often anymore I at least know that they are there, that they are well and if the urge hits me then all I have to do is pull my boots on and saddle up. I just don’t think that I will ever be able to live a life without horses.
Right now the show season is over with here and it will get going again in the spring in Sweden. Riding on the other hand knows no season and as I speak the forests, indoor arenas, dirt roads and trails all over Scandinavia are teeming with people and their horses enjoying their time together and breathing some fresh winter air. Speaking of which I think I will go get some fresh air myself right now!
I will be posting from time to time in English, informing those who are interested what is going on in this part of the world and you are welcome to follow along. Feel free to comment, and let us know where you’re writing from. I never write anything to intentionally ruffle feathers and the only request I have is that the commentary be polite.
Have a great day!