I was thinking the other day, as I spent the evening hanging out at the barn with my dad, about how much this "horse thing" means to me. It was really beautiful out there, warm and sunny and quiet. I took McKinna out for a hack down the road and up over the hill, where we met a Horse Eating Tree Stump of Death (hilarious because she rarely spooks - I actually had to lead her past it), then a few lovely relaxed canters up the hill.
This is good for me in so many ways. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like if I gave it up. If I had every evening free - no more 4:30 to 8 being taken up on weeknights, no more weekends swallowed by clinics, no more 90% of my paycheck going toward the horses.
Personally, I'd be bored to death. I wish I'd had the foresight to develop a cheaper obsession when I was, oh, two years old or whenever it was that I decided I loved horses...but since I didn't, I'm stuck with it.
I love it.
Going to the barn is like walking into a cloud of not-worry. Well, restricted worries: my thoughts revolve around the horses, what we're doing and what I am working on in training and new ideas. But it seems like it is physically impossible for me to be stressed about ordinary life while I'm out there. A couple years ago, a boyfriend broke up with me and I was completely miserable--but not at the barn. It was like I physically couldn't think about how sad I was.
We had good times when we were at that barn. I think my favorite memory of that place was the barbecue we had one summer: the barn owners, their kids, and all the boarders got together at the barn. We set up a bunch of picnic tables. The owners slaughtered one of the pigs their kids had raised for 4-H, dug a big pit in the outdoor dirt arena, and slow-cooked the entire pig in the pit. I think that was also the first time I ever tried apple pie with extra-sharp cheddar cheese, yum.
Another time, a group of us - actually, many of the same people who boarded at that barn and went to the barbecue - went schooling at Inavale. We all went and rode the cross-country fences, had a great time splashing through the water complex, and came back to the trailers to hang out. That day we were the only visitors parked in the pasture they use for parking, so we just closed the pasture and let the horses loose to graze while we had a picnic in the shade of a huge oak tree. Brie cheese and soft bread with a perfectly crunchy crust, big juicy cheeseburgers on the grill, chocolate-dipped strawberries, dripping slices of watermelon. I think we arrived at 10 or so and didn't leave until evening feeding, it was so beautiful out there. The barn owners came and chatted with us for awhile on their feeding rounds. (This is one of the reasons I love Inavale: the people there are wonderful.)
Community is one of the best parts of the horse world. Don't get me wrong, I love the individual challenge and concentration of riding and training. But off the horse, it doesn't get any better than hanging out with friends. The eventing community (well, and Pony Club) is what I know and love best. Everyone is always ready to have a party at a competition or camp - someone has a barbecue, someone has wine, everyone has lots of great food and stories. Most times a couple people have guitars, too.
Pony Club is a blast because I get to hang out with horse kids. I grew up reading the Saddle Club and the Thoroughbred series, so now I get to belatedly live out my childhood dreams! The younger kids are a really good group, and they're a lot of fun at rallies. I think it's very cool that all these girls are growing up learning not just how to ride, but about veterinary care, how to manage a stable, and how to teach lessons. When I go to activities like the ABC Retreat or Quiz Rally, I get to meet and spend time with girls my own age, which I don't always get to do. (Not to mention how incredibly much Pony Club has helped me improve my riding over the last year and a half.)
It's just...I love horses, you know? That's what it comes down to and why I don't think I'll ever quit. I am always daydreaming about my next long hack, what I'm going to work on in my next dressage school, how it's going to feel when McKinna and I come out of the start box at our first recognized event ever this summer. I look at my calendar for the spring term and see only two open weekends, and I know this spring and summer is going to be crazy busy - but I wouldn't have it any other way.
PS: I just re-discovered this picture of McKinna. It was taken the day after we got her, and OMG she was a porker! Look at that neck! And her TAIL!
Contrast that tail with THIS one, which is pretty much how her tail always is...
All we do is stick it in a tail bag and wash it whenever we're about to go somewhere. Wish her mane would grow a little thicker, though.
That's all for today!
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