Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back to Work . . .

by Kit Ehrman

I no longer own horses of my own--it’s been a couple of years now--and I’ve got to tell you, I am still going through withdraw. I need a horse fix, and I need one badly.

For a while, writing about horses helped because when I’m writing a “horse” scene, I feel like I’m in the scene. Like every equine author I know, the horses that I’ve known and loved come alive for me then. So, that’s fun. And I love it when I have a “riding” dream. I had one the other night, and interestingly enough, I was paired with my old partner, Stoney--my first horse. We were on a trail ride together, and he was his typical self: fun and a bit mischievous. I was amazed at the muscle memory at play. Everything felt so real. Then, unfortunately, my pesky cat woke me up, and that was that. Man, did I want that dream to last.


What to do? With all the family obligations and the writing job, and the obvious--no horses--getting some quality horse time is going to be a challenge. So, I got to thinking . . . what if I can combine writing with being around horses? I could haul my laptop to the nearest horse show and write while being surrounded by beautiful horses. Nah, I doubt I’d get any writing done. Might as well take my camera instead, enjoy the show, and snap some pictures.

Could I get a part-time job in a stable to satisfy my need? I don’t see how given my time constraints, though as weird as this might sound, I love mucking stalls.

Then, I got to thinking about my all-time favorite job--delivering foals on the night shift.

(See June 3rd and 18th posts for more about that job.)

At this huge (500+ horses) Pennsylvania farm where I worked, foaling attendants were expected to muck stalls or clean waterers between rounds. Then, as morning approached, we would hay and grain about eighty horses before our shift was over at seven. Believe me; I would have been bored if I didn’t do stalls. It pays to keep busy: other employees there had been caught napping.

But, I know some breeding farms work differently. The foaling attendant may only be expected to make rounds and/or monitor CCTV screens and deliver foals with nothing much to do in between, and I can see why. While I appreciated being kept busy mucking out between rounds, I used to feel sorry for the mares in the barn where I was working because their sleep was definitely interrupted.

Anyway, maybe I can bargain with a local breeder. I’d work for a lot less if I can do the rounds and deliver the foals and write when nothing much is going on.

In the meantime, I’ll have to find another way to get my horse “fix.”

Happy reading and riding!


Mary Paine said...

Hi Kit,

Good luck with finding a path to the 'horse fix.' I have those moments myself, but my horse mom role seems to be filling the bill.

You'll have some great writing time while waiting for those new foals to make their appearance!


Jami Davenport said...


Have you considered grooming for a local trainer? My trainer rides about 10-12 training horses a day and hires a groom to saddle them and warm them up then put them away. It's only a few mornings a week. Maybe some local trainer needs someone? BTW, she will either pay the person or trade for lessons on one of her horses.

Mrs. Mom said...

Kit- I sure understand that feeling. In fact, that feeling was intense enough for me that I set up a paddock here at home and do a small bit of rehab. Right now, there is an allergic pony in residence, and a large mare who needed a temporary boarding situation.

I get my horse fix in spades now!

Sure hope you can find a solution to get this situation resolved!

Leslie said...

Kit, can't say that I enjoyed mucking stalls, but just being around the horses countered that feeling when I worked at a local riding facility. We only had 14 stalls to clean, divided between two of us. I understand what you're saying about the "horse fix."

Isn't it simply amazing the draw horses have for some of us? As I tell my husband, you've either got "IT", or you don't. He obviously doesn't, but that's ok.

Sounds like you have some good options for your horse fix situation. Enjoyed reading about the foaling barns, something I have no experience with so reading about it was interesting.

Loved seeing the pic of Snaffle. Definitely looks like my Mittenpaws, who I had for 19 years.

Laura Crum said...

Hope you find just the right niche for yourself in the horse business, Kit. As someone who has never not owned a horse since I was first allowed to buy one as a teenager, I can't imagine the withdrawal I'd go through (!)

Kit Ehrman said...

Hi Mary,

Being a horse mom would certainly work. Unfortunately, my boys preferred go-carts and are now into mudding and ATVing. And I thought my barn clothes laundry was bad! Geez.

Kit Ehrman said...

Hi Jami,

Working for a trainer would be neat, but we don't have a lot of equine activity where I live now. Some backyard type stuff here and there, but not much on the professional level. ~ Kit

Kit Ehrman said...

Hi Mrs Mom,
I love your solution. Sometimes I daydream about putting a horse in the backyard. Not enough room, but I daydream nonetheless. Offering rehab is just wonderful. I'm sure your boarders are extremely thankful. ~Kit

Kit Ehrman said...

Hi ljs82,

The horse attraction thing is amazing, isn't it? And you're right; you've either got it or you don't. I did love that job, so, and I really enjoyed using some of the real-life situations while writing COLD BURN.

Oh, Snaffle is my office buddy. Right now, she's taking a nap on the bed, but she's usually in her chair in the office (right next to mine) and when she wants to be held and petted, I can't say no. First, she taps my arm as I'm typing, and if that doesn't work, she gets on the keyboard. She's a rather repetative typer, so I have to intervene and pick her up. ;-)

Kit Ehrman said...

Hi Laura,

Hope you had a great vacation! Not owning horses is definitely an adjustment - that I'm still making. I'm hopeful I'll work something out, though. :-)

Amy Ellen said...

I understand about needing a "fix". I have not had a horse for a number of years now, and I miss one so much I could cry. I miss grooming, bathing, cleaning up after them. I told someone else recently I would rather muck stalls then vaccum or dust in the house. Hope you can get a "fix" soon!!!

mugwump said...

Have you got a rescue near by? They would love to have your experience, and stall cleaning expertise.......