I often get asked how I like working with horses. I always elaborate on how much I love it + usually the other person agrees that I must have a dream job. That is, until they find out I spend half my time picking up horse poop.
Now, what if I told you that’s one of my favorite parts of my job? You’d think I was crazy. But here my side first
I grew up riding horses at a saddlebred barn in Shorewood, IL called Northern Tradition Farm. I called this place home for a many number of years. This is where I first learned how to ride, showed horses for the first time, taught lessons as an instructor, & became completely obsessed with horses. Growing up I was like most kids, self-conscious, awkward, and just wanted to fit in. During this time in my life, the barn was my “safe place”. All your fears about growing up get lost when you go to muck out a stall. Mucking out stalls is relaxing for me. It’s something you just can’t mess up. The poop gets put into the bucket, end of story. While standing in a filthy stall, your biggest problem is filling up a wheelbarrow.
While in a stall not only do you get to connect with the horse that’s in there, but you also get to make awesome friends. I promise you, the friends you make aren’t as poopy as the manure itself. Emily + I have been mucking out stalls for years together (she was even in my wedding) & plan to ride horses into the sunset one day with our hair waving in the wind. Without Emily I probably would have quit riding a long time ago. Whenever I was frustrated with a horse or myself she would encourage me to keep going.
Working at Danada Equestrian Center has been fantastic. My biggest problem is I have to clean up manure after 19 horses and 6 of them being at least part draft. But I did get an upgrade, instead of scooping poop from stalls, I get to watch the sunrise + horses freely frolicking. Seriously, I have some of the best views from the top of the hill with shovel in hand. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve met some great horses and friends along the way. Like Lindsey, were the terrible two when together. We’re exactly the same while being the exact opposite. She’s Eeyore + i’m tigger. She’s also vegetarian and loves kombucha as much as I do. They made the mistake of hiring us at the same time and now some of the volunteers can’t tell us apart.
I’ll be honest, when I get to work at 8:00 in the morning after going to bed at 2am, I don’t want to work very hard or deal with anything complicated. I can be cranky and irritable in the morning so I don’t want to chat with anyone either. That’s why picking the mud lot is what I look forward to. It’s just a pick, the wheelbarrow, and me. We duke it out. I don’t have to wake up and make big decisions on how to save the world or end world hunger. All I have to do is pick up horse shit. Oh and look at the scenery.
I must not get enough horse poop at Danada because on Tuesday each week I volunteer at the Hanson Center Riding Arena where I (drumroll please) pick up more poop! They hold horseback riding lessons for people who have special needs & disabilities. We as volunteers work with riders who have autism, down syndrome, behavior issues, and much more, but we love them all the same. This is our way of giving the love of horses to some people who need it the most. For some of our riders this is the highlight of their week and we do our best to give them a great time. Being a volunteer here has made me the appreciate my physical and mental health.
Not only do I get to work with some inspirational riders, but I also have made some great friends along the way. Our Tuesday group is one of a kind and I wouldn’t be as dedicated to going without them there. At the Hanson Center we’re like family. Goes to show how horse poop brings people together.
Not only did I learn about working with riders with disabilities, I got to shareboard my first horse. It was love at first sight. During the first week of him being at the Hanson Center, I fell in love with his demeanor + sweet personality. Although I no longer shareboard him, I still throw him carrots on Tuesday nights. Shareboarding didn’t just bring me closer to Romeo, but I also met two new friends, Jackie + Cassandra. We all share boarded Romeo together, because 3 is better than 1. Please tell me you see the benefits now of scooping horse poop.