Working With Horses

A close friend of mine recently got a new job. Last year she worked at a minor stud farm, then she took half a year in New Zealand and now she is back.

When she left for New Zealand, I didn’t feel like I was losing her near as much as I do now. I knew she was coming back, and to be honest  I think we spoke more- online- while she was away than we ever have. The time difference was perfect since I always sit up all night, writing.

Now that she is back, she has got a job at a huge stud farm, and has moved to the other end of the island, to live at the work place. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic, it’s a great opportunity for her, its way better work conditions than at the old stable, and better pay. So really, this is a step up in the world of horses. In Denmark, you hardly get to go any higher than this as far as working professionally with horses is concerned. And here is where I see us drifting apart.

At first when she got the job, I wondered. It would be an exciting job, to get to work with those stallions I have worshiped from afar for years, now wouldn’t it? Could I do it? I mean, would I want to?

In all fairness, I am sick and it was never an option, but in another world, where my body wasn’t failing me, would I want a job like that?

For a split second, I wondered, but the honest truth is no, I wouldn’t. I would be fired within  a day. I know how those stallions are trained, and I could never be a part of that. What is scaring me now, is how my friend speaks of them. The tone at the stable is clearly rubbing off on her, and it’s killing me to hear that.

She told me about a very young horse I really like, and how he had been trained one day, and the guy that rode him had handed him to my friend in the end saying “take it, I don’t want to look at it.” That horse had been soooo bad…

I instantly said, he is young, maybe he is stressed out, or have some other kind of reason for being trouble. I can’t take to hear professional riders blame the horse. Why were none of them wondering why this young horse was acting up? Two days later, he came up lame… surprise… I bet they are not apologizing to him though…

Anyway. This kind of started last year, even before she went to New Zealand, we were at a dressage show, watching a mutual friend of ours ride. An acquaintance of mine, and a friend of my friends, showed up with her new five year old horse. I knew this girl from having competed against her on her old horse, but it had died and I was quite looking forward to see her new star.

The five year old spooked and didn’t want to go anywhere near the judges. The girl riding him continued to kick him with her spurs, tearing on the bit, until the judge came out of her house and told her to leave the grounds.

As she rode past me, I said to her, “not to worry, he is young, he will learn, just give him time.”

The girl shook her head at me. Well, that’s her business, but I have had a horse like that and I have never been disqualified for mistreating him at a show. I usually waited for him to calm down, and if he didn’t, we rode around it and made the best of it anyway. I have had some pretty low % on that account, but I have never had the judge come out and shout at me.

That is not the point, though. The point is, as this girl reached my friend, my friend astounded me by looking up at the girl on the horse saying “wow he was naughty today.”

I nearly hit her in the face. NO friend of mine talks about a five year old, in a state of panic, like that. When did I lose my influence on her? Had I taught her nothing at all?

Clearly she had found someone else to look up to, someone else to teach her how horses are supposed to act. I let it slide. Her co-workers were present. Still, it has been haunting me ever since.

Mostly because I know the feeling. If you work with horses, every day, horses that are not your own and that keep acting up due to lack of training, you turn cold. You stop caring at some point. I have worked at a lot of stables in my time, and I know what it’s like. At some point you start, if not blaming the untrained horse, then at least you take it out on him, simply because it gets so frustrating to work with every day. Which is one of the reasons why I am done training horses for others. I never want to stop caring. I never want to hear myself say about a terrified five year old that he was naughty.

But back to her new work place. Before she got the job, we made a deal to go to see the 69 Eyes as they are playing in Denmark tonight. Sadly the concert clash with the annual stallion performance testing in Herning, which is running for four days, starting today. I was set to go with another friend of mine, today, but because of the concert I backed out. Music still overwrites other peoples horses in my world. It did cause a lot of friction between me and the friend I should have gone with though, but we worked it out.

Then my friend got the job at this huge stable, and of course she might not be able to go to the concert anyway, because of Herning, she might have to work all four days, after all this is a huge event in the world of horses. As it turned out, she is only going to Herning Friday. At first she said that she had to work all day, so she didn’t want to go to the concert because she didn’t want to be tired at work. I can understand that, it’s not easy handling those huge stallions.

Then I spoke to her yesterday and she said that she didn’t have to work, she just had to be there when she wanted and she thought I should go with her. I must admit, I don’t know what to say to something like that. I blew off my other friend because we were going to a concert and now we are not going because she has to hang out at Herning whenever she feels like it, the day after?  I kind of thought she had to meet early and work all day…

To be honest, I am a little relieved that we are not going to the concert, since I couldn’t really afford it. I am a little relieved too, that I am not going to Herning twice, because I could not afford that either, and my other friend and I are going Saturday. It’s not about that at all.

I just can’t shake this feeling that I am really losing her this time. It’s not like we haven’t seen that before, when some of our friends suddenly got jobs at professional stables and lost interest in our little gang of amateur riders and natural horsemanship trainers. I just never thought I would have to worry that I might lose this particular friend.

And maybe I’m not. Maybe I am over reacting. But still, when we met yesterday, for about five min, she talked about the stallions, I talked about my pregnant mare, and then we had nothing more to say. For the first time ever, I felt like we were worlds apart and our common ground was fading.

And I know that a relationship is not one sided, this is as much me, as it may be her. I am just going to have to do better somehow. I just find it so hard to kill the monster inside me, the natural horsemanship monster that I have to keep on a close rein at all times, preventing it from running off with me around people that could not care less, and didn’t want my opinion about their horses. I can keep quiet. I really can. I can, and I have, walk away and never look back. Just not on my blog. And not from this girl.

And girlfriend, I am sorry for this post, but you are kind of killing me here. I had to say it, and I promise I will never bring it up again, any of it.

About Starstone

-Owned by horses. Writer, Photographer, Director, Musician.
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