Musings from this morning.
So I’m now three weeks into this epic journey. I thought by this point I would have settled into my role here. Unfortunately that is not quite the case.
For someone who eschews all forms of emotions, these past few weeks have been worse than a roller coaster. More like an emotional sky dive.
I usually cry about once or twice a year. I have cried basically everyday I’ve been here. It’s thrown me way off schedule. If you assume everyone has a finite number of crys in them, I should be done for the rest of my life after I’m done here.
I told Ashley, barn manager extraordinaire, about my uncontrollable tears. And she told me to calm down. I’ve been trying too hard to get into the swing. So I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.
I am learning new things from my emotional distress though. For instance, I’ve found that when I’m angry and upset rap songs help a lot. The cruder, the better. Something about foul language just soothes the bloodthirsty monster within. My personal favorite is “Ninjas” in Paris. I’m just glad I was the only one at the barn when I pretended to be Jay-Z for an hour.
Lego is doing all right. It seems that he is a loner. He likes the other horses, but mostly he just hangs on his own. We’re rather similar in that sense.
He still comes up to me when I whistle. That’s one of my favorite parts about him. It really makes me feel like I swallowed a kitten when he whinnies and trots up to me. On days where everything possible has gone wrong, it’s nice to know that at least little Stumpy still loves me. Or maybe just the treats I give him.
As for my off the farm adventures, I went to a starter horse trial (that’s a one-day event that only has the lower levels), and I watched Jane ride in a clinic with Linda Zang.
The starter trial went well. I loved it. I didn’t have to clean stalls beforehand, and I kept doing different things all day. I think I must have ADHD because I am much happier when there are several things I am keeping track of. If I get stuck doing something for more than an hour or so I get bored. So running back and forth like a crazy person, tacking, washing, and videoing horses was great. I just wished I brought more socks. I had raisin feet by the end of the day.
I learned some things from the Linda Zang clinic. The biggest thing I learned is that I need to own several cookie companies. Iron Springs Farm is beautiful. I want one.
I chatted with Linda about forest fires for a bit in between Jane’s sessions. She was very straight forward about what she wanted from Jane and the horse, and the session went very well.
One of my favorite things about Jane is that she wants to learn more. I’ve always felt like you can never know everything about horses, and Jane believes that too. That’s one of the things that made me want to come work with her in the first place.
In other news, Jane sold a horse last week. JJ is a super cool super relaxed Thoroughbred. A bit like Lego, but bigger, fancier, and more trained. The sale means that we get a new coco mat and tacos at Victory courtesy of JJ. Victory is a brewery with delicious locally sourced food. They brew their own beer. If you’re into that sort of thing. It’s good. But the food is better. Mondays they have “Taco to meet you” which means you can get an awesome taco dinner for five bucks. And they have salsa.
For anyone unfamiliar, salsa is my lifeblood. Michael Westen loves yogurt; I love salsa. And Victory’s salsa is great. The only complaint I have is that they never give you enough. Of course there may not be enough salsa in the whole of creation for me.
And that’s the burden I have to live with so much time so little salsa.
An average day for me as a working student starts at 5:45 with the frantic vibrating of my phone. It’s usually under my head or on some hard surface. Depending on how long it’s been since my day off and my bladder, I lay in bed for anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes bemoaning the life choices that led me to waking up this early. Then I do my back exercises and get moving. I’ve been eating spinach for breakfast. That’s completely normal right?
By the time I get to the barn at 7:00 I have managed to drink at least a pint of water hopefully more, to combat my constant dehydration. And then the work begins. There are 15 stalls in the barn, 2 broodmare stalls attached to the barn, and a 3 stall shed. They are all bedded with straw. I honestly thought that straw was relic from a bygone era until I came here. Now I think that straw is Satan’s curse upon us all. I can see the benefits of it. It’s really fluffy and comfy and it’s a waste product so it is pretty environmentally friendly. And yet I loathe it. Because of the straw we finish stables sometime between 9:30 and 11:00 every day. By this point I’m ready for a nap. But instead I keep working.
Once stalls are done we bring the 5 boy’s in my horse’s field inside. Lego gets tied to eat his grain, so he doesn’t crib. I keep an eye on him and once he finishes eating, I offer him some water, and then I tie him up to the back of his stall to munch on his hay net and not crib.
Then the rest of my day is some mix of tacking and untacking horses for Jane and Ashley, riding, and keeping the barn tidy. If I ride with Jane, I’m in for a treat. There’s nothing like someone barking eight hundred different instructions at you in quick succession. Typically after every ride I want to curl up in a ball and cry for eight hours. But there’s not enough time in the day so I rally and ride another. Maybe if I just keep scraping the bottoms of my emotional and physical barrels they’ll fill back up.
Once the rides are finished, and I have thought about just putting Lego in the back of my car and leaving several times, we get to close up. The boys get fed around 2:00 and Lego again gets tied to eat. My poor little stumpy crackhead. Once they are done they go out to graze the night away.
I’m in charge of getting tack cleaned which I think is mostly about covering my hands in oily, soapy, dirt. Then Ashley and I make sure that the horses are set for the night. Waters topped off, hay nets full, doors all shut. We also make sure that the aisle and tack room are swept and any equipment that we used is put away. I’m pretty good at putting things away. I must use it all up at the barn though as anyone who has seen my bedroom will attest. Once the horses are settled Ashley plays with the Kubota and I play with the cat. I must gentle this cat. I picked him up to sniff his belly, and he turned himself inside out to get away. When we finish playing (Ashley was actually making more room in the manure pit with the bucket, which is probably work) we bid each other fine farewells and head home, to attend to our lives unrelated to horses.
The theme of my first week was “the first week is always the hardest.” That was the exact phrase I heard from everyone. It seemed a bit like a brush off to me. But in a way it was true. Physically I’m feeling better. I don’t feel great, let’s make that clear. I’m also still the slowest of the bunch doing things. I hope it shows that I’m trying though. Because I am.
Emotionally though the second week was pretty bad. I had a meltdown at the end of a lesson with Jane. She intimidates me. She expects a lot of me. And she should. I’m a big girl I can learn to do what she asks. But I get caught up trying to impress her (which backfires every time), and I take every correction as failure. Not a desirable trait for anyone to have. Do you hear that brain?
But I’m working through it. This job is physically and mentally exhausting. Everyone who works here is super fit and efficient. I want to be like that. And slowly I will be. Even now I’m seeing changes. Rather than going home and collapsing on the floor and moaning, I’m trying to get other work done (laundry, dishes, cross training) so that I don’t have to do anything on my day off. That shows quite a bit of fore thought that I have never possessed. I’m the kid that started every assignment an hour before class.
I’ve always secretly wanted to be one of those characters shaped by hardship. An epic hero like Aragorn, Katniss, or Michael Westen. But even when I felt that I always tempered it with “but that would suck.” And I went about living my life. Now I’m faced with a situation that I can see is really going to shape me for the rest of my life. Now I’m not trying to restore my people’s kingdom, or stuck in a twisted reality tv show, or dealing with the after effects of an abusive father, but hardship is relative. The worst experience you’ve ever had is different for everyone. Also, it’s easiest to stay on the
hard character building path when you have no other choice.
So really this whole grand experiment, is all an exercise in willpower. Can I do it? Ask me again in six months.
Also if I manage to stick this out to the end, I will certainly have no trouble avoiding eating salsa and smelling Sweet Gum leaves. Yes, my sarcasm hand is raised.
I’ve made it not even a whole week and I’m ready to cry in a corner with my teddy bear. This gig is brutal. Everyone has said that the first week is the worst. I’m not so sure.
Despite the marathonian work day, I like working here. The people are great and they all have made an effort to make me feel welcome. If they hadn’t I’d probably be home right now sniffing…I mean cuddling my cat.
Lego has adjusted well to his new life of lush grass and deeply bedded straw. He even got up to his old tricks this morning and pulled several sections of fence down. I was very pleased to fix them because I didn’t have nearly enough to do. So I turned the electric on and he shocked his nose. It made me chuckle. I’m off to the store tomorrow to buy some posts to fortify the perimeter with high voltage. That should fix his little red wagon.
That’s what he gets for making me spend my day off driving posts.