Most people look forward to the weekend, holidays, long weekends, and other miscellaneous days off/school vacations as a time to relax, maybe catch up on some house chores or your favorite Netflix show. Sleeping in, lounging about, seeing family or friends, etc., etc., etc.
But if you have horses, manage a barn, are a groom or stable hand…your concept of ‘the weekend’ is quite different than most people.
Days off are a time to get done with those obscure barn chores that never seem to find time to get done any other time; bucket scrubbing, de-cob-webbing, cleaning under mats. It’s a time to gives your horse a bath, scrub your tack, run to the tack store or feed store, clean troughs, rake arenas, mow fields.
The weekend for an equestrian might start on Thursday or Friday during show season, and instead of sleeping in, we are getting up absurdly early, and putting in longer days than we would during the normal work week.
If you board or lease or take lessons, you might have the ability to decompress a bit. Your horse can have a day off and you can spend that time catching up on your ‘normal’ chores, like running to the grocery.
But if you’re on the other side of that equation, i.e., the person taking care of the aforementioned grocery-shopping boarder’s horse, chances are you are still out there working.
Those horses need fed, the stalls need cleaned, a new boarder needs to be trailered in, there’s a show on the weekend, lessons all day every day, a client’s horse needs ridden, and by the time that’s all done, the horses will need fed again. The weekend is taken up with field management and mending fences in between all the normal day-to-day care.
Every barn manager I have met and worked with could seriously benefit from a 30-hour day (and even then, I’m sure they would be filling those days to the brim and then some). They (and the grooms and stable hands of the world) sacrifice time with family and friends, holidays, weekends, and so much more to take care of our beloved equine partners.
I think the only time they use the words ‘day off’ in the same sentence is when referring to a horse on stall rest.
We love horses for the fact they don’t care what is going on in our lives, they love us and are there for us. Unfortunately, they also don’t care when the weather is terrible, or we are sick or we really just need a good nap; they still need us to be there for them.
We go home after we ride or spend time with our horse. After we leave, they are still there, and chances are, they’ve been there much earlier than when we arrived. And they’ll do it day after day. We love our own horse(s); their love extends to all the horses in their care, the love of the sport, the love of being an equestrian and being able to share that passion with others.
They care a ton, they do a ton, and they fit more in a 24-hour day than anyone else I think humanly can.
So next time you are at the barn on the weekend and see your barn help mucking out stalls and dumping buckets, or your barn manager/trainer is running around, take a second to thank them for all they do. They work tirelessly and sacrifice a lot to ensure we can have this amazing lifestyle.