Horses teach responsibility, the value of hard work and perseverance, the ability to problem solve, give us something to keep us “grounded”, and give a shoulder to cry on.
When I was about 6, my mom decided to buy a piece of land and build a barn. She bought my two sisters their own horses and I was given a little black pony. After school every single day, and twice on weekends, we went out to the barn to take care of the horses. My mom left most of the barn work to my sisters and I, so we devised a barn chore schedule. We would alternate days where one of us would give hay, one would give water, and one would give feed to the horses. We all cleaned our own horse’s stalls. We all dreaded doing water since it required dumping, scrubbing, and refilling buckets. It was the most difficult and time-consuming of the tasks. Feed was the second hardest since it involved measuring out different feeds and supplements for each horse. Hay was always the quickest and easiest. As we bought more horses, sold horses, and brought on boarders, the schedule remained the same.
These barn chores were so routine for me from age 6 and on that it shocked me knowing that other kids did not have these daily chores, even more shocking that my regular routine would be considered as hard manual labor to others! Cleaning stalls, feeding, cleaning buckets, and other barn chores were required parts of my life. I knew that if I didn’t get those chores done quick enough I wouldn’t have time to ride, or that sometimes the chores were long enough that I had to choose to work hard today in order to have less to do tomorrow and ride then. The responsibility that came from years of taking care of my horses, and learning to plan ahead are absolutely invaluable to me today. I learned valuable horse knowledge, discipline, and strength. There are few things more empowering than learning all you can accomplish when you work hard.
What has spending time with horses taught you?
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