Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why I see my horse everyday...

I've gotten into the habit of going out to the barn to at least see my horse everyday.  While I typically do trail rides or lessons on the weekends, I don't usually get a lot of riding done during the week.  My hope is to fix that once the weather improves a little...which is not going to happen today or tomorrow.  Apparently, we are under the influence of Snowstorm Janus.  Or is it Blizzard Janus?  I can't quite figure out the naming convention...

Anyway, I got to thinking about why it is so important for me to get out to see my horse at night, even when we are in the midst of a decent blizzard.  Tonight is not the first night this winter that I have spent driving out to the barn with my truck in 4-wheel drive because the roads totally suck in northern Virginia during a snowstorm.  The only thing I can figure is that VDOT didn't read the owners' manuals that came with all the snowplows they bought, particularly the section on actual snow removal.  I think this because I keep seeing snowplows that aren't plowing anything.  They appear to be out for a leisurely drive on some of our busiest streets and highways, with no apparent purpose other than to slow down traffic and take up space.  And when these snowplows are combined with motorists who really shouldn't be out on the roads in the first place because they either lack the capacity to drive at all in any conditions or feel so supremely confident in their super expensive SUVs that they zip around anything and everything going TOO FAST, it makes for a dicey and frustrating trip for the rest of us.

But that trip is worth it for me because the barn is My Happy Place.  It doesn't matter how awful my day was or how stressed I am about Life, when I get to the barn, it's like I enter this other dimension where I literally don't even remember those things exist.  I take one whiff of the barn smell, which is likely some combination of hay, bedding, urine, manure, leather, horse sweat, and dust, and I instantly feel like all is right with my world.

The barn and horses in general have been my refuge ever since I can remember.  I didn't actually have a horse until I was 11, but before then, I think my Barbie and model horses and my imagination were all I needed to get away from it all.  And I know that I've gotten through all of the worst times in my life by being able to commune with my horses.

I think another reason the barn is so attractive to me now is because of the long-time bond I share with Nimo.  We've been together for over 10 years now and we're comfortable with each other in kind of the same way that old friends are.  It's not that we never have a disagreement, but when I go out later in the evening, Nimo is already in his stall, having finished his dinner and working his way through a hay pile bigger than he his, and everything seems so quiet and routine.  I usually have plenty of time to enjoy the smell of his breath, which always smells like sweet hay and smell his coat, which smells like horse when there's pasture available and probably like mud the rest of the time.  The smell of a horse's coat, especially when he's on pasture, is the most amazing thing I've ever smelled.  It instantly reminds me of when I was very young and used to visit my grandma for a month every summer.  She had a horse named Skip and I used to walk out to find him in a fairly substantial pasture (we're talking maybe 75 acres here) just so I could breathe in his scent.

After spending a day working for usually about 4 hours and interacting with my daughter, my husband, and the dog the rest of the time, the sheer quiet of Nimo is exactly what I need.  He never nags at me, he doesn't bark or whine, he doesn't cry or throw temper tantrums, and he never demands more from me than I can give.  I almost always leave my cell phone in the car, so I can't be interrupted, and I just hang out with my horse.  Sometimes I groom him, sometimes I trim his feet, and sometimes all I do is talk to him for a few minutes, clean out his stall, give him a mash, and head home.  And somehow, even after only a few minutes at the barn, I'm ready to face my life again.


  1. What?! It was a blizzard with an actual name? I've been watching two different forecasts and somehow missed that! I guess I can add "drive in a blizzard" to the list of firsts this winter...wow...

    This was a BEAUTIFUL post! Going to the barn after work to visit with our horses is the best thing ever. It's my favorite way to unwind, too.

    1. I think it's The Weather Channel that does the naming. Fox News was making fun of it yesterday, so maybe all the networks don't use the names...I can kind of see the case for naming the storms, though. Especially in a winter with a lot of severe storms, it can help you narrow down the storm, instead of saying, "you know, that time it snowed a whole bunch..." And congrats on surviving your first time driving in a blizzard!:)

  2. This is such a lovely post, Gail. :)

    I get out to the barn 5-6 days a week, but I usually only ride 2-3 times. Just taking her out to graze is so peaceful. The chomping sound and the smell of crushed grass and horse is worth the cost of ownership.