BY LISA HYNES
I remember March vividly. They announced school was done for the year—the year! My teenager celebrated, while I had mixed emotions. I still was required to work, so how would I ensure my child still maintains a routine and does not fall into a habit of lounging in pajama pants and staring at her phone all day?
Then, the safer at home suggestions turned into stay at home orders. Now we both became worried. Will this mean our barn will close, will we not be able to see our little monster, Tonto? We are a small barn and our small county was not a hot spot for cases, but no one could predict what the future held.
The barn minimized its staff since the future was unknown, and that’s when the solution hit me! I volunteered my daughter to help with chores every morning. It helped the barn, and it helped my teenager maintain a routine and get her off the couch during this pandemic. I never knew how beneficial this would be not only for her, but me as well. She got exercise, time with her pony, a huge amount of knowledge about horse care and barn operations. And… she was not on her phone!
At first I would drop her off on my two days off, but then I started to stick around. I realized that this place was amazing for my sanity. Work was extremely stressful, but at the barn you got to talk about your day to the horses and they wouldn’t judge you. Well… some of the mares may have judged me, but that is expected. I looked forward to my “day off” to sweat and get covered in horse slobber while I fed or watered them. It was truly a way to escape from all that was happening.
While many other parents grumbled and wanted a vacation from their children, I became closer with my daughter. We started to work together on projects for the barn together. We painted jumps, and even built a few new ones with the help of a few others.
Because of the situation, my daughter took an active role in helping to promote and improve the barn she has worked so hard at during the spring/summer. Though yes, she still has her teenage moments and sometimes saying good morning can ruin her whole day, we spent great time together. At the barn, I was not always the enemy.
As the country begins to open up, my daughter still goes to the barn to help with chores in addition to riding and prepping for horse shows that are now happening again. As we continue to navigate through the new normal and prepare for the unknown ahead, I can say that horses and our barn helped make at least part one of the last few months bearable.