Written by my younger sister, Lindsey, who puts up with all the talk, horse boots in the garage, and loves all my barn animals as much as I do (she was always the little girl curled up with the horse show dogs while I was showing).

From the Outside, Looking In

As my socked feet pat softly on the wood floor I rub my eyes and look out the window. It had snowed in the night and the trees were a crust of ice and heavy piles of snowy limbs.

Where’s mom? A question I already knew the answer to as I slurp my cereal.

In the barn.

I rolled my eyes. It was barely even light out. She’d be out there for a while and for a reason I didn’t understand when I was eight, that really bothered me.

Since practically I began walking, a big chunk of my mom and sister’s time was devoted to horses and barns. Horse people, horse equipment, horse talk and horse….manure.

When I would tag along with them, a “minute” at the barn always turned into over an hour.

Horse shows were an all day event; there was talking and tacking that I didn’t understand and didn’t particularly care to because the accessory pets usually accompanying the horse people had my attention. Plus, the horse world was not my world. It was not my hobby. (That probably had a lot to do with their size and unpredictably and my sisters peculiar fondness for thoroughbred mares). Horse people were not my people. I just lived with them.

I was often annoyed and constantly surprised at how much attention horses required. How too much grass or the wrong blanket could turn a spring night into one of panic, one of worry. Where walking was the only cure. Where such a massive being could become so vulnerable.

I grew older and could not shake that cold edge and a childish eye roll toward what truly is a way of life. On a morning like the one I vividly remember when I was eight, I walked out to our barn to place my mom. She had just undergone a major surgery and I’m not sure what pulled me there. I walked in the quiet barn to the methodical breathing of velvet noses in the winter air. All three of our horses were sleeping. The fragile power of their large chests rising and falling stunned me and I felt wholly at peace. The smell of hay and sweet grain ticked with the clock on the dusty wall. Finally and instantly, after 21 years… I understood.

Horses are an escape. This world is put on pause: the demands and wants and needs of humans and the constant press play to all of those for… an animal. An animal that trusts blindly, or not at all. One whose body is as delicate as it is intimidating. Whose brain is full of what might hurt them, whose heart feels for what or who never will. Right there in the cold, in that barn, I understood horse people. I abandoned all that annoyance and replaced it with my utmost respect.

Though it still isn’t my world… I understand and love my horse people.