Saturday, July 7, 2012

What Are The Poor Folks Doing?

It is ridiculously hot in NJ today, so I'm posting this because it has nice, cool pictures!

Years ago, before I had a farm and a family (when I had a lot of free time), I used to spend my weekends trail riding with one of my best friends.  Those were fun times.  I miss that.

I'm on the red roan Appaloosa, my friend is on the grey Walking Horse.  Don't be jealous of my sweet camo coveralls.  It was cold!

Back then, I was just a veterinary technician/barn rat trying to get through my bachelor's degree, pay the rent, and still somehow support my horse addiction.  I supported that addiction by working a paying job (vet clinic), working for free for lessons (barn rat), and bumming rides off friends (red roan Appaloosa mare).

My friend was also a vet tech at the same clinic, and we became friends through our shared love of horses.  We were both ridiculously poor, but my friend had two horses, one butt, and not a lot of time.  So, she let me come ride her extra horse, the red roan Appaloosa mare, for her.

That little mare I'm riding in that picture was named Frosty.  She was a barrel horse in her prime.  A good one, too.  I never dared to ride her in an arena with barrels set up, because if she went into an arena with the barrels set up, she would run the pattern whether I stayed on or not!

Frosty had two speeds: trot and runaway.  I rode her in kimberwicke bit, because that was the only way to get her to not be a runaway.  You can even see in that picture that she's not standing still!  But, we had a lot of fun.

He really loved brandy.  It kept us both warm on those winter trail rides.

On those trail rides, so long ago, we used to joke: "What are the poor folks doing?  They're riding their horses!"  It was funny, because we were poor folks.  But we still had all the wealth of horses and nature around us.  Even though we didn't have money, it was enough to just spend a day with friends and horses out on the trail.

We were so poor back then.  But, we were still making it work.  I worked multiple jobs, I slaved away in barns in exchange for board and lessons.  Eventually, I worked my way up from barn rat to working student. Then I worked up to barn manager and assistant trainer.  I got to ride sale horses and client's horses and nicer horses than I would ever have had the opportunity to buy or lease.  And I did it with no money, just sweat, blood and tears.

I don't know if I would have ever made it as a pro.  Unfortunately, I was badly injured in a fall from a horse and that ended my pro days.  But, it didn't end my horse addiction.  I'm too stupid for that!

And so now it's many years later, and I'm still slaving away in a barn to support my habit.  Except that now it's my own barn that I slave away in.  My husband and I were able to buy a little piece of property, and we spent many hours putting in the fencing, barn and arena.  We did it all without a lot of money, but with a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  I suppose we are "horse poor".

Every time I ride my horse, when I mow my pastures, when I strip my stalls or hand-rake in the corners of my arena, when I do every single tedious task on this little farm my husband and I have made, I smile and think to myself, "What are the poor folks doing?".

This "poor folk" is loving every minute of her stall cleaning, hay stacking, pasture mowing, arena maintaining life!


  1. Amen!

    A life with horses is always a rich life. I enjoyed your story. I used to "barn rat" on my days off to help afford lessons and the lease of a mare. I often wondered what everyone else does on their days off as I shoveled poop with a smile on my face.

    I tried to remind myself of the richness of having horses in my life yesterday at 100 degrees after we got all the horse in, the power died again killing the fans, so we put all the horses back out again so they wouldn't roast in the barn, and just as I was haltering the last horse, the power came back on. I had to laugh. The horses stayed out, though. ;)

  2. Love this post. :D

    I spent a couple of years guiding with the local trail barn, and used that money to fund my dressage lessons. Next I got a gig as a second butt / on-call horse care provider for a two horsed friend.

    After that situation ran it's course I was ruined - and six months later I found Val. One year after Val came the farmette. And now I'm horse poor too. Best kind of poor to be!

    It seriously needs to cool down, although bright side is the lbs are falling off... (in a puddle)

  3. So many horse people I know are on a tight budget. Too bad the social misconception is that all horse people have tons of money.

    We are richer than most people, regardless. There is something truly amazing and wonderful about these creatures who bless our lives.


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