Long before I was a horse trainer, I was a period house restoration contractor.

There’s a saying among contractors: “You can have it good, quick and cheap.  Pick two out of the three.”

I’ve always said that if you love to ride and to garden and to work (and you don’t have staff), you can also pick two out of the three.

Last week, we were gifted by a surprise visit from dear old friends who create and care for some of Long Island’s most beautiful gardens.  The wife comes from a polo-playing family and loves horses.   We walked around the farm together and she told me how much she misses having horses in her life.  Her two out of the three is gardening and work. 

If you were to visit my farm, you’d know immediately which two out of the three I picked.  

I still miss gardening, as my friend misses horses.  I think of gardening, at its best, as an art, like riding.  Although I’ve never asked her, I suspect my friend feels the same.

So this, along with winter coming, got me thinking about horses and horse people and flowers.

As gardeners know, annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in one year.  They are often the quickest growing, largest and most spectacularly colored flowers you can grow.

Similarly, those who have their horses at home, who don’t have indoor arenas and who give their horses the winter off, are among the most driven to make the most of the rest of the year.  Many of them are among the most dedicated and knowledgeable of horsemen.  I’m proud to say that some of them are my clients, and I built my business to cater to them.

Perennials, those plants which grow year after year, also have their analogy in the horse world.

Perennial horsemen are those who will always have horses in their lives, in one way or another.  Just as perennials must be divided to thrive, and the roots of rhizomes cut and replanted, there are often generations of horsemen in the same family.

And then there are the biennials.  Those are the plants that grow for one year, and then produce seeds from which new plants grow.

Many horsemen are biennials, looking back on years when their lives were devoted to horses, and for whom the seed reblooms later with a new horse or a renewed interest in riding.  Careers, motherhood, illness or financial difficulties can lead people to give up horses in their lives if not in their hearts.

I realize that with this line of thought I’m risking the kind of ridicule heaped on Barbara Walters after her interview with Katherine Hepburn…

That’s okay.  I’m a biennial who sometimes resembles an annual and other years resembles a perennial, like the hollyhocks that grow each year along the side one of my outbuildings.

How about you?