Welcome to my fantasy. The photo to the left is how I would have my horse life be if everything were utterly perfect. Sighhhhhhhh....
This is sort of a post about horses. Mostly it is a post about gossip, life and renewed commitments we could all probably use. Life at a boarding barn as it exists in the present, gossip because it is the root of all evil and renewed commitments because I have several.
See, despite being frightened as a mouse that finds itself suddenly in the mouth of a cat (which actually happened to one poor soul yesterday when, as I opened the door to under my kitchen sink Obi dived into the space and ensnared an unsuspecting little creature simply out for a morning jaunt to the nearest kitchen trashcan) about venturing out on our own, we are committed to doing so. SEE PRIOR POST. And, I will not lie about the fact that although there are pluses involved in your horse having residence at a boarding facility, there are many, many minuses.
People stuff is everywhere in life. It is one of the reasons I tend to keep to myself, carefully monitor my on-line time even... But, it seems like boarding barns are simply chock full of drama with an extra dose or two and I am not sure why. I have argued against the offhanded sexist belief that it is normally because they contain mostly (or in the case of my barn only) women. But, gosh....so much of what goes on in them (and this isn't the first boarding barn I have been a member of) centers around gossip, snarkiness and stuff I haven't experienced since well, junior high and high school, that my arguments are becoming harder to make inside my own head.
I have the added issue that I made a decision when I boarded there that I was going to try my best to get along with everyone. I was there to ride and in order to ride you need people to ride WITH and so I was not going to allow myself to be dragged down into "barn stuff". This has sort of worked. I say sort of because I don't think there is one person there that would not invite me to ride if they were going out. BUT, I still generally ride with the same couple of people on a regular basis. Why? Because they are the only people on mostly the same schedule as I am and because they ride. See, the other thing about a boarding barn is that you have a ton of folks that have horses housed there. Horses they don't do a damn thing with. Or, horses that they only see once a week or even every couple of weeks... So, they don't ride much is what I'm saying.
There are other factors. Fear (of course) is big for me and riding with some folks as opposed to others is more safe. This is a practical matter as well as a something that needs to be conquered matter. There are "real" fears and there are the fears that simply hold you back and my riding life is a mixture of both. There are....
Well, I guess I am wrong the main factors are convenience and fear. Gosh, that makes me feel like a big pussy. Anyway - OK, this has already been productive in terms of breaking down my brain. Note to self and reader friends - write stuff out.
So, the gossip. OH MY GAWD the gossip. I can't get away from it. People tell me things. Random meaningless things are said in conversations. Things like - I got bread from Walmart the other day and it was blue. Somehow that gets translated weeks later to you said all bread at Walmart is purple & so & so told you that so I asked such and such and they said absolutely not bread is yellow and everyone knows that. I AM NOT exaggerating about how inane and ridiculous some of this stuff is. Yesterday I flipped a lid (sort of) and said - WHY does it matter whether the bread is blue, purple or yellow? And the offender said - it doesn't really.
Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding... So, you gossip to stir the pot of shit. If one engages in also stirring, even in casual, seemingly unimportant conversation, one is also immersing herself in the pot of shit. Well, it STINKS, this pot. And I gotta step out of it and take a goddamn shower.
Today I am going to the barn at NOT my usual time. I need silence. I need to not be surrounded by random discussions about this horse or that one, assumptions about the owner, the trailer it came in on, the choice of food, condition of the coat. The only SHIT I want to smell like today comes out of the far end of my pony and I'm determined to keep it that way.
My new line is "that doesn't sound like it has anything to do with me" and I'm sure I'll be repeating it 10 thousand times over the next month alone. I don't know how else to deal with this other than to shut it down and discontinue all conversations that have anything to do with anything other than...well, I can't think of any safe conversations so let's just say I'm mainly mute at this point.
Just because I haven't added to this journal doesn't mean it hasn't been an adventure.
I was looking back at past entries and what we had accomplished last summer and thinking about how we've surpassed SO MUCH of that this past season.
We logged tons of hours on the trail, we even led the rides on several occasions! That is something I never thought Takoda would be up for. He isn't a born lead horse. He's actually really comfortable bringing up the rear and prefers that spot. So, by default we sort of become the guardians of the back of the line when everyone rides.
We didn't spend a lot of time in the arena until later in the summer and it showed. Takoda definitely prefers the trail, he gets bored easily and it is always a challenge to make the arena at least tolerable for him. I know he doesn't like it but sometimes it is the only choice we have a I firmly believe that there is value to arena work. Trotting over ground poles teaches him to mind his feet and where they are in relation to the rest of the world. Patterns keep his brain busy with work rather than mischief, a constant balancing act with Takoda.
The other day we took a short ride out into the field that serves as his "home base" - 20 or so acres of terrain with a little stream, a pond, woods and field. There is a steep climb in an open field to get to the top and although we were just meandering around the stream at the bottom he was convinced that his friends were "up there" somewhere. He simply could not concentrate on walking because he had to stop every five feet and whiney toward to the top of the hill, then wait for a reply, which of course kept coming from the barn because all his friends were in for the night, thus confusing him even more... We got it done but it was a reminder to me what we are in for when we move out on our own.
He is very comfortable with this routine now, and his surroundings. Moving a horse is tricky. You have to be patient and sort of work them into a new routine. On one hand, when the time comes, I won't have to worry about getting him used to other horses right off. But, I do worry about companionship and what the next step will be. He'll need a friend, maybe not a horse, but a friend just the same. He proved to be pretty nicely independent when he was injured. Being away from your herd in a field by yourself for five weeks sucks for a horse. But, he did get to see them in the barn on a daily basis and he did make friends with the donkey in the smaller field next to him. However, when he rejoined the group he was obviously thrilled to be back amongst horses. HIS horses. So, I will need to consider how emotionally difficult a move will be for him.
Then, there is my own fear. No one to bounce things off of. No one to help. No one to ride with. It will all be up to us and I can't even allow myself to contemplate it for too long or I'll chicken out on the dream and just continue to worry like everyone else about what will become of my boarding barn when this or that happens...
I have time to plan and figure things out. I just have to continue to remind myself that there are pros and cons with every scenario.
In Loving Memory
...of the first horse to hold my heart