Have you ever wanted to have horses at home? Are you thinking of getting your first horse, or do you board now and wish you could see your horses out your window and not have to drive to the barn to see them? Do you have thoughts of relaxing in your barn, listening to your horses munching their hay….It is possible – if you do it correctly and give it the amount of thought it needs.
Having your horses at home can be a joyful experience. You get to bond with your horse and get to know your horse like you would never be able to if your horse was boarded or being taken care of by someone else. From knowing exactly how much and where he likes to pee to knowing exactly how much he drinks on a daily basis, there is nothing like performing the daily chores for your horse to get to know him. When my mare, MeMe (After Me), didn’t gobble breakfast as she always does, I knew something was wrong. She usually eats her grain in about one minute flat, but this day she turned away from it and went to look out the door of her stall. She had been boarded for most of her life, but I had just brought her home to my small horse property in eastern PA a few months earlier. At a boarding stable, she would have been given her grain, and then the feeder, although a caring horsewoman herself, would have moved on to the next stall, she probably wouldn’t have noticed the lack of appetite. Early signs of colic are not always dramatic, and because I noticed this, MeMe recovered quickly without having to be tubed or operated on.
I think I can tell the real horseman or horsewoman by the answer to this question? Is there something about cleaning a stall that is enjoyable? If the answer is no, than horses at home are probably not for you. But if you answer yes to this question, count yourself as one of the many true lovers of horses. I can’t say that I enjoy every minute of every day of cleaning stalls, sometimes I am really busy, sometimes I am really tired, sometimes I wish someone else would do it. But there is really nothing like a quiet sunny morning when the horses have had their breakfast and gone out to the field, when I’m in the barn, the barn cat chasing whatever it is he chooses to chase around the barn, jumping up on the stall door to say hello, little motes of dust in the sunlight, and the good, physical work of making my horse’s bed for the evening is the only thing on my mind. It’s like putting clean, fresh sheets on your bed. You make sure it’s dry and comfortable for your horse when he comes in from his long day. There is that feeling of satisfaction as you lean on your fork and survey the clean stall, as you sweep those last little pieces of bedding into the shovel and look at your clean barn. I am always amazed at how satisfying it is to sweep the barn, even though you know it will be dirty again as soon as the horses come in. Even though you do it every day, it is like a work of art each time it is done. The other thing that amazes me is that people actually get paid to work at barns – I have stayed physically fit by cleaning stalls, hauling manure, throwing bales of hay or bags of bedding, shoveling, sweeping, and enjoying every minute of it because I am with the horses. I have often thought that people should pay to work at barns, like they pay to go to the health club – how can you get paid to do something that is so good for your body, and so satisfying to your soul??
(To be continued……)