Day 4: Summer 2020 Adventure on the Backstretch

The morning commute 5:20am.

TGIF is not a thing on the backstretch.

As I’ve started to share this story with friends, I’ve started getting questions like “how’s it going?”. My answer: “too much to text”.

But really, here’s how I’m feeling 4 days in.

It’s intense. Humbling. Challenging. Exhausting. Terrifying. It’s hard and I’m really, really glad to be doing it. The perspective, education and experience are just what I was craving – and more.

I wrote this to a friend “It’s no picnic, but I’m super glad to be here.”

A few scheduling notes:

  • First, my decision to start this new “gig” the week before the TRF’s major fund-raising event was questionable at best. For the record, the timing was not totally in my hands, but – ouch, it’s been rough. Big thanks to my TRF teammates who are dealing with me at less than my best as we come down the home stretch.
  • Second, so as not to misrepresent, I’m not planning to do this 7 days a week. I owe it to my teammates and the horses of the TRF to give them a full measure of my effort each week. My plan is to work Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon starting next weekend. This week I opted for a 5 day “crash-course” to try to get my sea-legs. Working Tues-Sat, with a break Sun – Tuesday, but not totally sure I can wait til Friday… for fear of losing my confidence. We’ll see!

Lessons of the Day

  1. Taking pictures with my mind – a new habit.
  2. The horses keep you in the moment. Very.
  3. Always bring your rain jacket.
  4. A McDonald’s Hashbrown can really make your day.
  5. Easy does it. (If you just spit out your cocktail, I get it. This has not exactly been my M.O. in life, but hey… the horses, they are great teachers!)
  6. Vuelta por vuelta…

Thoughts on the above –

  1. Pics: I’ve made myself a promise that I’ll never play with my phone while I have a horse in my hands. I have one job to do, to attend to the horses, and I’m not going to dial it in or multi-task it, no matter how tempting it may be. Thus, I’m working on the “taking pictures with my mind” to capture the scenes I want to remember.
  2. Mindfulness: As I rework on my early morning routine on barn days, I’ve not given myself the “treat” of my 10 Headspace meditation because I think it’s better to just get myself out the door, not rushing and getting to that shed row early… so I’m trying to let the walking itself be my meditation. Above all, the horses are teaching me to really enjoy the “vueltas” (or even just partial vueltas) when they just relax and walk… it’s such a gift, and often fleetingly so.
  3. Rain: It happens. Why not be prepared? Lesson in life – when it’s easy, just do it.
  4. McD’s made my day: Wow. This really was special. The “new girl” was offered a treat by Emilio, from Linda Rice’s barn, from Tito (head groom at our barn). It was cold & greasy and absolutely made me glow with a feeling like I might just, sort of, belong!
  5. Easy Does It. It sounds so simple, and yet, it’s really the hardest thing. From my days of showing in the hunter & equitation divisions, to watching PGA golf, so many skills are best displayed when it looks like the person is doing nothing at all. And so it goes with hotwalking. The horses chill out when you do, and man oh man, that is sometimes a very tall order.
  6. Vuelta por vuelta. This is simply how time passes. Sure there are variations, changes in the schedule, an occasional new task or request, but for the most part… the life of the barn is measured, for me, Vuelta for Vuelta…. hasta maƱana!
Hello Handsome! This pretty boy let me pull his mane yesterday – first one I’d done in… 30 years??