Eventing Nation: On owning horses

Jorna Taylor shares an essay on the perks of living an equine-filled life.

We’ve all seen the various touching essays by parents of little equestrians on the benefits of horses for young girls and boys, but what about the perspective of the adult girls and boys? I found the perfect example of this in Jorna Taylor. I happened upon her blog the other day and was so taken with her essay that I couldn’t help but share it with the rest of you. Compassion, empathy and patience are things we all learn from horses, but Jorna tells us a little more about the small details. Thanks to Jorna for writing, and thanks for reading! –Kate Samuels

Top: Jorna today (photo by Jeri Taylor)

From Jorna’s blog: “Born In A Barn”:

I had horses starting at an early age which means I’m not afraid of dirt. And not just dirt found in your front yard, dirt that is in fact comprised primarily of horse excrement. Dirt that will stay under your fingernails no matter how many times you wash your hands.

I’m a fashion maven in my own mind. I’ll wear sweaty breeches and rain boots to the grocery store for a full shopping trip. The line on my forehead left by my hairnet under my helmet is perpetually visible. I’m actually not trying to be stylish when I wear my tall boots in public, and get annoyed when people compliment me on my cutting edge attire.

Since I grew up riding I’m not afraid to sweat like a man. As it drips down my back or I wring my hair out after a ride, I know that we worked hard and accomplished something that day. It feels good. It does not smell good. That is what the barn hose is for.

I had horses so I spent my childhood and teenage years at the barn and at shows, not in the back of some boy’s Honda Civic. This means there was little chance for me to become a teenage mom, and I saw the “miracle of how life begins” at the breeding farm and it most certainly was not a pretty sight!

Since I came up in a barn I learned to entertain myself at my ponies’ expense. During the summer I got dropped off at the barn around 8 am and picked up when it was dark. My babysitter was my pony and the other barn ruffians in the same boat as me. We rode our ponies multiple times, played horse and put on shows, and pretended to do helpful things like committing a half-assed job sweeping the barn aisle.

Jorna as a child riding “Astro” (photo by Rick Bates)

I show horses and have spent (still spend???) more time worrying about having the right amount of hair covering my ears under my helmet than I would ever take to prepare a coif for work/an interview/a social function.

I eat and drink at the barn with horses and I have a great immune system! I’ll drink out of a hose and not worry that I’m going to die of lead poisoning – if it is good enough for Jorge, it is good enough for me. I’ve tried horse treats. I’ve kissed dirty horse noses and inhaled more than a ton of dust and dirt. A trainer once gave me bute – I didn’t die.

Since I started riding when I was 3 it doesn’t bother me that I look like a freak with richly tanned arms and snowy white legs when I put on a bikini to go to the beach. Who am I trying to kid, a day at the beach is just a wasted day that I could be at the barn.

I own an amazing horse, so my idea of a great conversation starter at a cocktail party is to tell you about my last hack in the field, whether or not you ride. I think my horse is fascinating and cannot understand why you aren’t in awe of his glory. I’ll just go find someone else to talk to or call one of my horse friends instead.

On that note, I also possess the ability to discuss hay, hay prices, different types of feed and supplements ‘til everyone is blue in the face. And then do it again. And again. I’m a party hit!

I own a horse. This means I have clothes that I wear to the barn. And clothes I haven’t worn to the barn – yet. All of my winter dress coats are covered in hair, my heels are full of arena sand and my favorite cashmere sweaters have slime stains. This in no way concerns me.

I am not grossed out by barn dogs when they eat poop and then lick someone. There’s nothing better than taking Bones and Jorge for a ride around the field together, or watching Bones’ excitement when I say, “ready to go the barn?”

Little Jorna showing off her ribbon (photo by Jeff Taylor)

I have trained horses and riders which means I have an honorary therapy degree. I have counseled and cajoled and berated women twice my age. I’ve dealt with bratty teens, in whom I see remnants of my old self and shudder to think what my trainers put up with some times. I’ve had the joy of convincing young girls to “just sit” on a horse only to watch the smile spread upon their face as they ask if we can walk a little.

I show horses. As such I relish the chance to get up at 3 am to haul to a show. Or to braid all night just to pay for 3 classes the next morning. However try to get me out of the house on a Saturday for a work event? Good luck.

I’m horse obsessed and will put my car into 4-wheel drive and spend 2 hours getting to the barn in a Wisconsin snowstorm but am too lazy to bring the coffee mug in from the car after that drive for weeks. That means I’ll have to wash it and then put it away… ugh.

My horse is a prima donna prince and I always prioritize his new shoes over mine. Target flip flops are okay year-round, right?! And he has a diet that I regulate closely with appropriate supplements (maybe excessive, stop judging me) while I’m fine with chowing down on Chipotle and slurping the better part of a bottle of cheap red for the 3rd night in a row.

But… that all said…  I am a better person for owning horses. I know that another living being is counting on me to take care of it. I’ve never been to rehab, although maybe my tack shop addiction should be considered. I feel great comfort at the barn so I always know where to go when times are rough. My best friend Jorge has four legs and is my shoulder to cry on, my friend to confide in and the greatest partner in crime.

I was given the opportunity to share with horses. I know I am blessed and loved.


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