By Jessica Shannon
Our barns, whether on our own property or a bit of a drive away, are a second home. They are where we found confidence, built resiliency, and learned how to ride, groom, and treat an abscessed hoof. We found lifelong friends and a sport we will make countless sacrifices to ensure horses are always a part of our lives. How then, can we take care of our barns the way we care for our homes?
Every barn structure is different. The ways in which you can show love to your second home will vary by your barn. No matter how your barn functions, we can each follow standard etiquette by picking up after our horses, keeping our items tidy, and not covering shared spaces with our belongings. That’s the minimum. We can do more. Sometimes it’s easier and more therapeutic to put some elbow grease into our barns than scrub our own houses.
My barn has an annual clean-up day. We divide up various jobs such as repainting jumps (tip: if you don’t chip into a fence much, there isn’t much painting to do), cleaning the trailer, and reorganizing and deep cleaning the tack room. It gives all of us a day to gather with homemade food and laughter, and put some hard work into a place we all treasure after we ride our horses together in the morning.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have had a ton of rain. It’s giving us inconsistent days in the arena. For a lot of us, however, it hasn’t changed how often we are at the barn. We ride together in one of the pastures or whatever part of the arena will allow a ride, even for a short time, and we also have used a rainy weekend to spruce up our home. A few riders and horses were at a local show, and a couple of us created a list of “to-do” items.
We climbed ladders, cut the zip ties keeping the fans in each stall in place over the last 8 or 9 months, scrubbed the fans, labeled them, and stored them away for the few months fans aren’t needed in Texas. We swept cobwebs and floors. We cleaned up the debris from the storms, and we hung up decorations. We added more to our “to-do” list than we took off of it, but that only shows the motivation and care we have for our barn.
Friendships are built in the barn aisle. Laughter is deep when we’re covered in cobwebs we’ve swept from the corners of the stalls. When we make an effort to care for it, we feel more connected to each other, to our horses, and to the place we willingly spend as much time as possible each week. It gives us ownership and helps us understand our horses and their needs in a new way. We put our hearts into our barn. We feel at peace there.
We have tack trunks full of products to keep our horse’s coats and hooves healthy. We clean our French saddles and condition our Italian boots. We curry and brush our horses with care and love, noticing any change in their coats or cuts from a night out in the pasture with their friends. If we put so much energy and love into our homes, tack, and horses, then why wouldn’t we put the same love into our barns? Our barns help shape us as much as any school or home we’ve ever lived in, and they house our most precious and beloved horses. They deserve to shine as brightly as they make us feel.
Jessica lives and rides in The Woodlands, TX area where she works in pastoral care. She enjoys writing, supporting Arsenal FC with abandon, and being an enthusiastic dog mom. Jessica is proud to bring along an adopted OTTB, Gunner, into the hunters.
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