On Thursday I took the day off work to head over to the stables to work for the day. My trainer had mentioned when I first started riding that if I ever had a day free, I could come learn the ropes. Thursday happened to be perfect as the farrier (the guy who puts the shoes on) was there. He offered to do Sue first so that I could watch, which I gratefully accepted. I asked if I could bother him with questions while he went (I’m sure he regretted his decision over the course of the next 30 minutes) and I learned a ton. I had no idea what a fine art horse shoeing is… it’s one of the most important parts of the horse and it goes way beyond just nailing a shoe on. He also trims the hoof (think if it like trimming your fingernails), but it has to be done at the right angle, often enough, etc. He then has to fit the shoe to the hoof (that’s where the loud metal-on-metal banging happens) and nails it on (nailing it in the wrong place is called “hot nailing” and results in a swift kick!). It was quite the process and was amazing to watch him work!
Isn’t that a beautiful horse butt? Sadly, I have no more pictures after the farrier – I was too busy having fun!
After Sue’s shoes were done, my trainer showed me how to muck out stalls. I know it sounds completely unglamorous, but there’s something to be said for taking care of these amazing animals, especially in the morning when they’re quiet and eating. It took me a lot longer than it would her (who knew there’s a fine art to picking up poop?), but I got the job done.
All of that raking and shoveling was exhausting, but then came the best part of the day – the riding. I took a lesson on Sue, with another rider from the barn riding her horse, Strider. My horse is a lot smaller than Strider and has much shorter legs, ergo a shorter gait. I’m constantly working with him to extend his trot and lope. My trainer had a fun idea… for me and Sue to chase Strider. It was so much fun just racing around the arena like little kids.
After lunch we came back to the ranch and I rode a beautiful little Arabian mare. She was much more sensitive than Sue, which forced me to work a little harder on my horsemanship. She had a beautiful lope – it was great experience! When I was done on here, my trainer put me on the ranch’s stallion, Charlie. Let me tell you, it was terrifying. He was all muscle and every time we came around the side of the arena that housed the mares, he would stop and whinny at them… with his whole body. It was sort of this guttural noise and shaking. Thankfully, my trainer was there to talk me through riding him (can’t show him any doubt or hesitation) and I was able to stay in control. He is a beautiful animal that once he knew I was boss was fantastic to ride – all muscle and power!
We ended the day with some more stall cleaning and the evening feeding. It’s fun to be the horses favorite at that point… everyone is happy to see the feed cart! I came home around 7pm Thursday night wanting nothing more than an ice-cold shower, a big dinner, and some time on the sofa. It was an absolutely amazing day!