So a year ago I moved lock, stock and barrel to a new city, new state and a new home. Thankfully I had the support of my family. Even then it was difficult on some levels, but I knew that this move was what I was supposed to do.
I had several days with my boss before she left for 8 weeks to horse show in Arizona. Then it was me and the barn. Within the first two weeks I experienced circumstances that made me pause and wonder about my decision to take my new position.
When I arrived it was the dead of winter. Ground frozen hard, little to no snow, cold temperatures….this all adding up to when any horse is going to be ridden it is best to let them loose in the indoor to run, buck and play or to make sure you lunge them prior to getting on their back. For the most part this unspoken rule was followed but then came the night in my first week when teaching one of our school horses spooked and dodged which unseated his rider and she landed on her arm. Unfortunately she had badly broken her wrist and needed surgery.
Then the very next week, on a cold night, I was teaching and it was that infamous “one last time” through a jumping exercise. The horse performed the exercise well and then as he cantered away and began to turn he bucked and the student fell hard which resulted in us calling an ambulance. She had broken her femur. This within my first two weeks! My boss called me long distance to see how I was, knowing everything that had occurred and making sure I knew she had a bottle of wine up in her house if I needed it! Yep, got that right – I made sure I stopped at her house on my way home! Did I really sign up for this?
While my boss was showing out of town I was in charge with working three of our recently broke youngsters, who from time to time were challenging; especially when one of them sprained my left hand and left two of my fingers never to be the same size again. So I worked with them everyday, both on the ground and in the saddle. Some days I didn’t get much else done because I took the time needed to earn their respect and help them understand I was trying to teach them something new. I remember a former horse friend of mine commenting that when we first sit on a horse they have no idea if you are ever getting off again – in other words each experience is new and they have no reference to understand. So with lots of patience and persistence I developed a good rapport with each and all behaved well by the time my boss came back home.
I also spent time with our weanlings and yearlings many evenings. We try to handle them as much as possible. Often times the yearlings need it more because once the new foals come everyone wants to love on those. There were four yearlings, coming two year olds. Two of them in particular were more shy and nervous to be touched. So each evening either in between lessons or before leaving for the night I would to in their stalls talking to them and touching them with my hand usually on their back. They would walk round and round in their stall but my hand would not leave them and all the while I would be talking to them. Eventually they would stop and munch on their hay and allow me to rub and scratch them all over. After a couple times of this I’d show up at their stalls and step inside and they would just sigh – “Oh, it’s you again! I’m just going to keep eating my hay.” It truly is rewarding, earning the trust of another being!
I am a blessed soul indeed, building relationships in a metal building that smells of hay, leather and horses. And each day I get to feel the soft, warm breath of these phenomenal creatures on my face!
It was a rough start but it has been a rewarding ride; think I’ll be staying for awhile longer!