Adult ‘barn rats’?

Well, Session 2 of camp is underway and it’s been great fun so far. The participants have been working on their riding skills of course, but also on their basic horsemanship. They’re learning how to care for their horse and to look for things that would tell them their horse is not doing as well as it could. Later this session it’s possible that the vet will be back up doing some more work Deck’s eye. He has already had one round of surgery and might require another. Today the campers got to watch the blacksmith work and learned quite a bit about good foot care.

As is often the case, it occurred to me how lucky these kids are because they get to see things that even a lot of horse owners don’t get to see. There are lots of people who own horses who actually have a job and so can only come up a couple times a week for a couple of hours to see their horse. There are others who can only manage to find the time to make it to the barn once a week for a lesson. The odds are pretty much against them seeing what these kids will see.

Over the years, I have noticed that there can be quite a gap in the knowledge that some adult riders have. This is especially true If they have taken to the sport later in life. It is quite possible that they have missed most of the information that the ‘barn rats’ get just by being here all the time.

So this takes me to my next thought. I really feel that because we use horses for enjoyment now rather than for survival we have some moral obligation to learn about them so that we can treat them well.

It is not only important to know how to ride, I think it is also important to know a little bit about what is best for your horse. This often requires that we understand what our horse is trying to tell us. It’s important for us to learn his language because it’s asking an awful lot for him to learn ours. (Although as anyone who spends time with horses knows, they seem remarkably good at reading us.)

I think it’s important to be able to recognize signs of health and signs of trouble and have a sense of what to do when the horse is not well. I think it’s a good thing to know how to handle a horse on the ground, leading him in and out of the barn. I think it is educational to see him interact with his peers in the field gaining, as we watch, a bit of an understanding of who he is when is not standing in his stall waiting for us.

For the most part horses are happy to do our bidding and enjoy their time with us. But I think the more we understand them, the better their lives will be. That’s all the things these kids are going to learn and I know a lot of adult riders who are kind of jealous about that.

For a number of years now people have been trying to talk us into having an “adult barn rat day”…a day where adults, whether they are riders or not, could spend a day at the farm getting to know these wonderful animals a little better. We have done it before but it has been a long time… but the more I think about it the more I’m considering it.

I think perhaps it should involve wine…

P.S. Please feel free to share this website with any of your horsey friends.

Also, if you want the weekly post delivered right to your inbox, you can sign up to the right of this note.

Changing times…

I thought about my parents a lot these past two weeks. They were both born in Nova Scotia in the mid 1920s. My father grew up in an orphanage in Halifax and my mom on a farm on Cape Breton Island. Both of them were old enough to understand the Great Depression because back in those days, kids got older faster. It was an event that changed them, just like it changed a lot people from their era.

After my father passed away last year, and we were cleaning out their house, I found so many signs of their world view. There were containers of string, containers of pencils, some only 4 inches long, every last screw and nail that had been used before had been painstakingly straightened and carefully stored away. And rags! Every article of clothing, bedding, towels… anything they had ever owned that was made of fabric I think had been cut up into rags to be repurposed for other things.

I guess one of the reasons I thought about them this week was because I found that my view of the world was quite different from the young kids who have been generously helping me with the big cleanout these past two weeks.

I would find a piece of leather or wood and immediately I could imagine that my dad would have found a use for it. The same if I found an article of clothing. I would hold it for moment knowing that my mom would have easily repaired the small tear.

The kids were very kind and if they judged my hesitation, they didn’t show it. I got a little better at it as time went on and found myself making the decision to throw it in the garbage bag got a little easier all the time.

But it’s been a while since I found myself looking up wistfully at heaven. I almost wanted to apologize but I was given strength by the fact that I knew they always wanted what was best for me. And for me, knowing where everything is and not having so much stuff unaccounted for in the barn will be make things so much better.

I think for my next chore I might get rid of all the nails I’ve been straightening….

Room for abundance….

Well, we are into our first week of camp training and so far, we’ve mostly been concentrating on de-cluttering the barn. It’s been something we’ve been talking about doing for years, but this time we decided to attack it more logically.

This is an incredibly long barn, as all of you who have walked through it know. Because of that, there are so many hiding places for so many things. Despite our best intentions in the past, it was always something we would start and be unable to finish on that day. It always seemed like we left things in worse shape and seemed to struggle to find the time to get back to it.

This time we decided to tackle it in a different way. For example: Monday was saddle day and so we all set out through the barn looking for every saddle we could find as well as girths and stirrups. Then we dusted everything off and lined it up so that our saddle fitter, Joe Boutstead from Canterbury Outpost, could check the fit of the saddles on all of the horses. There were saddles that he didn’t feel were worth keeping and it was quite therapeutic to put them in the pile that is ever-growing as it the awaits our trip to the dump.

Today was saddle pad and leg wrap day. We found all of them (we think), sorted out what was worth keeping and again, added more bags to our ‘dump pile’.

It’s going to make everything else a lot easier around here and if we can stick to our goal we’ll get this done in the next week. It’s great to watch all the helpers enthusiastically open up bags and boxes to find out what’s inside. Sometimes the surprise isn’t that pleasant but so far no one has backed down from the challenge.

Frankly, I am getting pretty excited because I think finally, after 21 years, I might actually get down to the boxes of stuff I have never unpacked since we moved here in 1995!

Hope springs eternal…

We really couldn’t be doing this without all of the help and so many, many thanks to all for the much needed enthusiastic assistance.

I read somewhere recently that de-cluttering allows room for abundance in your life. Most days, I feel pretty lucky around here but still, I’ll take all the abundance I can get!

So here’s to a cleaner and more organized barn and very possibly the best summer ever at Harrogate Hills.