Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Day in the Life

When I first took this job I had no idea why C wanted me to move down here a month prior to my starting date to “learn the job”. I thought it was going to be pretty simple and easy to learn…boy, was I in for a surprise. A full year later, I’m still learning and it seems like there is literally a never-ending supply of work. It amazes me how many things there are to do and how there’s no way to ever be completely finished with the work. Some days we get more done than others…other days we struggle to just get the basics done (horses ridden, cleaned up, and fed). When C is out of town there’s hardly a chance to sit down, but I can’t complain, because being busy is fantastic. I just thought I’d take a chance to really sit down and think about all the things me and my fellow employees do and think about on a daily basis.

We have ten horses in the barn right now that need to be worked 6 days a week. There is one other boarded horse who is semi-retired and basically all we do with her is feed her, bathe her several times a week, and turn out/bring in. For all 11 horses, we are responsible for keeping them clean and clipped at all times. This is ears, bridlepaths, muzzles, fetlocks, white socks, tails, and chin hairs. Manes must be pulled regularly as well. Fungus is a problem throughout the summer and winter and we must keep infected areas clipped, dry and treated. They literally must look show ready all the time. This is a little easier in the summer because we have the liberty of bathing, but even in the winter it’s important. We usually have the competition horses clipped in the winter and they all get daily “shines” with Vetrolin water. As far as bathing, we alternate between Pine-Sol (excellent for fungus and smells good too), Cowboy Magic Rosemary Shampoo, Ivory Soap, and Vetrolin. We also use Vinegar Rinses once a week. Sheaths get cleaned about every 4 months, and I like to get everyone done at once.

On any given day a horse may be flatted, jumped, trotted or longed in the Pessoa
rig. We usually jump school about once a week and trot 1-2 times a week. We save the Pessoa for the winter for the most part, when the ring is frozen and our only option is longing in the paddocks. The Pessoa is excellent for building muscle, stretching backs, and teaching a horse to figure out where his feet are without the added weight and unbalance of a rider.

My daily routine (which changes, well, daily) looks a little like this:

7:00 a.m.-Drop feed, bring horses inside

7:15 a.m.-Turn out daytime horses, start getting first horse ready to be ridden

7:30 a.m.-C or one of us gets on first horse

8-12: horses get ridden, and I usually try to get one horse bathed while I get the next horse tacked up

12-1:30 p.m.: Lunch break. On busy days I won’t take lunch but will instead get another horse ridden or bathed, or run errands to the bank/feed store/etc

1:30-2:45 p.m.: Get remaining horses bathed, put away saddle pads/boots/supplies. Boys clean tack. Clip horses up when necessary, rinse out wash stall, do laundry, give medications

2:45-3 p.m.: Make feed. Boys clean stalls and top off water and hay.

3-3:30 pm: Tidy up loose ends and put finishing touches on the barn (sweep, clean tack room, etc)

3:30 p.m.: Feed.

Naturally things don’t always go according to plan. There are always loose shoes, farrier visits (we have three different farriers who shoe for us), vet visits (we use two vets, one who comes to the farm and one who we have to ship to), chiropractor visits (we use two different chiropractors), and product reps (I love when they come to visit! New products are exciting!). We also tend to use the afternoons for a lot of therapy. We use the magnetic blanket, the Equissage, and the laser predominantly. Of course we would use the afternoon and any spare moments to ice horses, cold hose, soak a sore foot, wrap feet, wrap legs, treat cuts/wounds, or do massages and stretches on some of the horses.

Then there’s buckets and feed tubs which need to be cleaned daily (or every other day). Brushes to wash. Fly sheets/fly masks need to be either rinsed or washed daily. Boots need to be hosed and hung to dry after the morning. Feed room needs to be dusted and organized, feed to be unloaded. The tack room is always a disaster and we try to sweep it daily and organize the stack of papers that are always on the desk. Then we have to order supplies/supplements/shavings/hay. Meds need to be re-stocked continuously. Trailer needs to be clean and organized and show-ready always. We have three tack trunks that need to remain cleaned, organized and ready to go.

At night, we feed and start turning out. Bandages coming off of horses need to be re-rolled and stored. Several of the horses wear bell boots. The horses who stay inside need to be hayed and watered.

I’m sure I left stuff out. The boys for example do a lot of mowing, weed-wacking, dragging the ring, moving jumps around, cleaning the cobwebs, scrubbing the stall walls, changing light bulbs, etc etc etc. It never ends.

But I love it. I get worn down sometimes and often just want to have an inside job with normal hours. But then I remember how much this job fulfills me and how ecstatic I am at the end of every day. I relish it. And every day is different, so it doesn’t leave much time to get bored.

If you read all of that, kudos to you. *wink* By the way, had another stellar ride on Pop today and did a bit of canter (he felt stronger in the trot). The long and slow warm-up really helped him again and his canter was just dreamy. It was one of those rides where I literally didn’t want to stop..I just wanted to keep riding and keep riding forever. I had one of those canters where you feel like you could just go do a bunch of one-tempis and not miss a beat. Granted I refrained from one-tempis (haha) but that feeling can’t be beat.

Lizzie had an amazing dressage test today and I can’t wait for her cross-country. She is undoubtedly one of the hardest working, most dedicated and most talented young riders in this country. I’m so excited for her to show the world what she can do!
God Bless and stay cool!
PS: Champers had his first endeavour outside of the round pen tonight! He was very good and walked/trotted around the paddock. Love the little man!

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