Finding Your Peace in the Barn

You know those weeks where on Friday you just want to crawl under the covers and never get out? Well that was my week; between classes, work, extracurricular activities, trying to pick a wedding venue, keeping up with my house and trying to find time to go to the barn, I was swamped. I always think of the barn as an escape but this week it felt like a chore. Trying to find time in between everything else to go out and barely have time to clean their stalls and maybe ride Charlie or Ella for 10 minutes was just another thing to check off the never ending to-do list. I had a rough night at work on Friday and I was just mentally and physically exhausted from the week. Despite my exhaustion and comfy bed, when 7:00am rolled around Saturday morning, I was off to the barn to feed horses. The barn is usually busy most of the time and full of people talking and riding and cleaning stalls with bobcats; I would not necessarily call it "quiet", not that I mind because I thrive on the hustle and bustle. This morning it was surprisingly dead quiet and almost no one was there; a very rare occasion.

Walking into the barn this morning I was tired, annoyed at being up so early and drinking coffee like it was my job. After I got the horses fed, I started cleaning stalls, something I usually do not enjoy. For some reason today the usually despised task didn't seem so bad. My mood began to improve. Just being in the stall with Charlie, no sound but his munching on hay and swishing of his tail, doing something I have done a thousand times before, getting to finally let my mind go for the first time in a while was so refreshing. I didn't have to worry or think about that Biology test or that annoying coworker or how much laundry was in my hamper or how much wedding venues cost. I got to just revel in the beauty that is my horse. Sometimes I forget just how incredible these beautiful, humble, loving creatures are and how much joy they bring to my life. The simplicity of cleaning a stall and just being in proximity to my perfect Charlie with his silly expressions as he watched me scoop his poop and him trying to take the pitch fork right out of my hand was so peacefully fulfilling. The simple act of providing my humble equine with a clean soft bed of fresh sawdust, a sparkling clean bucket of water and plenty of good smelling hay was more rewarding than anything else I had done all week. I let go of the negative I usually associate with cleaning stalls and unseats focused on why I clean those stalls: to keep my horses happy, healthy and comfortable. I pushed to make those stalls as perfect as could be and it was so satisfying to see Ella take a big roll in her deep, fresh sawdust and Charlie lay down and take a nap in his soft bedding before I left. My satisfaction with this simple task did much to improve my mood.
Charlie in his fresh clean stall
After all the horses had fresh clean stalls and were finished with their breakfasts, I decided it was time for a deep, thorough grooming. This is one of my bad habits, when in a hurry, I skimp on grooming. Making up for lost time, Charlie and Ella got curried within an inch of their life, brushed until they shone, hooves picked and conditioned, tails brushed and conditioned and whiskers clipped. Once again, I was amazed in the peaceful feeling I got from simply grooming my horses and spending time with them just silently marveling at their beauty. Every minute spent grooming them is another moment spent checking them over to make sure they have nothing wrong and making sure all is well. Also, I noticed new things like the small white spot right between Ella's front legs. I am determined to be more diligent with grooming after today. It should be an enjoyable experience and a bondig experience with my horses and I am going to make it a priority.

Charlie after his thorough grooming just shiny as could be
When it came time to ride, I was finally relaxed and at peace. I had the arena completely to myself and the lights were still off, the only light came from the open doors. No sound but the sound of our breathing and his rhythmic hoofbeats. It was one of the most peaceful rides I have ever had. I was able to simply enjoy the rides they so graciously allowed me to take without my usual negativity. I often get caught up in making sure they do their jobs and teaching them something new and working working working when I ride. I forget to just step back and enjoy riding and enjoy getting carried by my gentle giants. Riding a horse is truly borrowing freedom; it is a feeling like no other to have so much trust in and trust from an animal that could kill you if it wanted to. I am so blessed to have these amazing equines in my life and I am glad I was able to take this morning to remember that. 

Big Arena all to ourselves

It can be so easy to get caught up in the negative of life and focus on all those things that frustrate and irritate you. I am guilty of that; especially this past week. Sometimes you just have to remember your blessings and how lucky you are. I am thankful I have Charlie and Ella to silently and in their own special ways remind me of that: Charlie with his cuddles, smiles and following me around like a puppy; Ella with her nose bumps, wiggly lips and demanding way of making sure I give her plenty of attention. I left the barn today refreshed, peaceful and in a wonderful mood. Despite the frustrations of life, it’s the little things that keep you grounded and happy. My horses give me so much in life; they are humble enough to carry me upon their back, silly enough to make me laugh at their attempts to smash their jolly balls, kind enough to greet me with a soft nicker before they even take a bite of hay and majestic enough to still take my breath away with their beauty and grace.

I challenge all of you to take some time and let go of the frustrations and negatives. Forget about that essay you should be writing and that person that just grates on your nerves and beeline your way to the barn. Let your horse calm you, uplift you and find the peace and joy in the little things. Don’t skip the currying today, take that time to revel in your horse’s beauty and grace. Instead of drilling lead changes, just take a trail ride. Instead of speed cleaning the stalls, take the time to give your horse a soft clean bed of fresh sawdust, clean water bucket and leave them a treat in the feed bucket. Horses give us so much, we need to appreciate it and give back. Do not think of horses as a chore; think of then as something to be respected, enjoyed and revered. Don't deny yourself the pleasures associated. So go hug your horse; if you need to yell those frustrations, yell it into their mane. They will listen better than any human I can promise you that. Winston Churchill once said, “ There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man” (or woman!!). I could not have said it any better. I hope everyone finds some of the joy and peace I found today with the help of those amazing equines.

Happy riding everyone and hug those horsies! :)

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