It’s been over a month now since I moved out to the farm full time. My days are longer, I get up earlier, and I perpetually have evidence of horse somewhere on my person, but… I’m loving it.
Mostly because my days are bookended by horses. I get up, I feed the horses, I smooch Henry while he’s eating (boy does he hate that), then turn everyone out (always reminding Quinnie that she’s in charge, and telling everyone else to make good choices) before I get ready for work. Then after work I come home, change, and back out to the barn I go. Granted, there is definitely more work involved, I’m not just hanging around petting ponies. Cleaning stalls, driving the spreader, adding shavings, dumping and refilling water buckets and troughs, throwing hay, hauling feed, stopping the idiot babies from chewing on the fucking fences (I am on my last shred of sanity with that one), etc etc. There’s definitely always something to do.
Spending more time with my horses doing simple care tasks as opposed to just showing up every day and riding, like I did when they were boarded, has shifted the focus of our relationship a bit. I get to see every little detail of their care, right on down to how many times they poop at night and where. How much hay they eat, how much water they drink, their general attitude… all of that is on me. And since they’re right there in the backyard, and I’m the one in control of it, I can tweak whatever I want, whenever I want, whenever it’s needed. It brings the relationship I have with them up to a whole new level. I’m not just the rider or the bill-payer… I’m everything.
It kind of makes the riding part feel a little bit less important, or at least not so much the center of my world. I have a lot more to do than just that. and my time with them can be more… relaxed. Less regimented. The whole dynamic is different, like I feel more at liberty to just enjoy them and less pressure to get something out of them. I really love being able to see them every single day, multiple times a day, and know everything about their lives. I love being able to look out the window and see what they’re up to, or walk outside and scratch their withers, or take way too many videos of them doing things that amuse me. Yeah I’m probably a stalker. I even pull up the cameras several times a day when I’m at work so I can see what they’re doing and make sure everything looks okay.
Even on days like yesterday, where I had to get up at 4 to clean their stalls before work, since it was super disgusting outside and they needed to stay in, it didn’t feel like a chore. Sure, they all completely trashed their stalls during the day anyway, making a disastrous mess (JB dug a hole. Dug. A. Frickin. Hole.). And sure, when I got home and turned them out for a few hours they ran around like complete and total morons almost the whole time. And yes, when it was time to come in for dinner, Presto and JB suddenly couldn’t remember how to find the gate to get from the back field to the front one, so I had to run out there in the semi-darkness and lead them to it using my jacket wrapped around Presto’s neck while also fending off “OH GOOD YOU CAME TO PLAY WITH US” attacks from JB and watching Henry gallop and scream up and down the adjacent fence line. Some days it’s a circus.
Yet, even those days are great days.
But my absolute favorite thing, my very favorite part of every day, is night check. Before bed I always go back out and check on everyone, top off waters, dole out more hay, put on blankets if necessary, and give everyone a goodnight cookie. I give Presto a few smooches on the nose (while exclaiming “this cookie will cost you two nose smoochies, pay up!” like a complete and utter psychopath), and Henry manages to swindle at least 2 cookies out of me, plus a few minutes worth of wither scratches. I stand there, just enjoying the company of my best boys, and everything just feels right in the world. I’m sleeping less and working more, and I show up for morning meetings with hay or shavings or horse boogers on me more often than not, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt so content or so connected to my boys. There’s something absolutely priceless about that.