Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sitting in the Barn

By Laura Crum

Today I want to write in praise of a simple pleasure. Sitting in the barn, watching your horses. Perhaps watching them munch hay, or just watching them be horses. Swishing their tails, playing “bite face” with each other, nibbling grass. Seeing that all are healthy and relatively content. Just enjoying being near them, not needing to do more. Is there anything nicer than this?

Not that having a good ride isn't wonderful, too, as I wrote about last time. But there is a unique, subtle pleasure in just being with our horses when we aren't trying to accomplish anything that I think is valuable, and we miss it if we are always busy trying to get something done.

The other day it was chilly and I didn’t feel like riding. My son also didn’t feel like riding. I lectured myself a little bit about exercising the horses (my usual guilt trip), but I just wasn’t motivated. Still, I walked down to the barn in the afternoon.

The horses were glad to see me, as usual. The ones who like to nicker nickered at me. The other two came up and stood near me. I sat down on the haystack and watched them for awhile. It was very restful.

I admired my little palomino horse and my older brown gelding, both of whom are in good flesh and look content. It made me happy to see them looking so healthy and strong. My son's sorrel horse, Henry, looked good, too, despite having gone through colic surgery last spring. My two boarders are thriving. All of the horses are woolly, as I don't blanket and they have their winter coats. But I like fuzzy horses in the winter.

I watched the horses and the breeze. I watched the blue-gray California quail who emerged from the brush and began to peck at the hen scratch. My son was swinging in his swing that hangs from a big liveoak in the barnyard.

That restless little voice inside informed me that I should get a horse out and brush him and saddle him and tie him up, at least, even if I wasn’t going to ride. I should do something. But I just sat there.

My son was perfectly happy to swing for awhile. Then he wandered along, visiting with each horse in turn. Then he sat on the hay with me and we talked about each horse and his particular personality. After that my kid went over to the chicken coop and began naming our “teenage” chickens, considering them old enough to have names.

I just kept sitting on the haystack, watching the horses and the trees and the wild birds. And it came to me that I should do this more often. Just relax and enjoy being with my horses. Take in the deep pleasure that their presence is to me. In a way, its like stopping to smell the roses, rather than always busying oneself with tending the garden. We need to do both. And I for one have a tendency to busy myself too much.

So that’s my post for today. A suggestion that we should all take time to sit down and relax in the prescence of our beloved horses, not doing anything in particular. Just being together. Just sitting in the barn.



Anonymous said...

That's one of my favorite things - to just hang out with the horses as they're being horses. Sometimes I think we humans tend to do too much, and not just be. Horses have a lot to teach us.

Leslie said...

Laura, you said it all. This year has been especially, well, tumultuous is how I described it to my endocrinologist the other day since my blood glucose levels have been all over the place. I'm a Type 1 diabetic. Anyway, just "being" with my horses on some of those days this year was enough. Nice to know others feel the same way. My guys are fuzzy now too and I love it!

Laura Crum said...

Leslie and Kate--I think all horse people know this truth, so I'm not telling anybody anything new. But I do sometimes tend to forget it, and spend too much energy ambitiously trying to realize goals, so I wrote the post to remind myself to relax and just "be" with the horses more often. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Jayke said...

That is definitely one of the benefits of having horses at home. I find when I boarded, I was more inclined to 'get things done' whenever I went to the barn.

Having the horses at home meant that I could often just wander down and hang out whenever I wanted, without any agenda or plan.

I remember the summer my horse Oliver was a two year old, I would read in his stall every afternoon, and he would lay at my feet or rest his chin on my knees. It was so restful.

autumnblaze said...

I had already ridden, given my boy a bath and fussed over him. Then I turned him out. I wasn't his norm, but he then tore around like a 3 or 4 year old for a good 5 minutes. Jumping low points in the field, bucking, kicking out, trotting, cantering, galloping. I had already spent a lot of time at the barn but I stood watching him until he stopped and settled down. At 15, it makes me grin to see him kick up his heels like that. That was a good moment from Saturday. I'd had a good ride too though it was 'fun' - exploring new fields at our new barn. Like Jayke said, boarding, I don't do it as much as I'd like. One day though I hope to.

Funny how horses have a way of calming me down, finding my center - just like that. :) I love just being with them, watching them like you too. Nothing like it. (I too believe in fuzzy winter horses!)

Laura Crum said...

Jayke and autumnblaze--thanks for the shared insights. I visited my 29 year old horse in his pasture yesterday afternoon, and he looked so content in the sunshine and green grass. He rested his head on my shoulder and I rubbed his neck. We stood there for a long, long time. I had a hard time leaving. It was a lovely moment, certainly as valuable as the thrill I felt winning the cutting at the county fair on this same horse twenty years ago. These peaceful moments of connection with our horses are the very best.