Dear Barn Owners of My Past

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BY Jamie Sindell

Now that I finally own my own barn after years of boarding, there’s SO much I didn’t realize as a boarder that I TOTALLY get now….

Dear Barn Owners of My Past:

I would sincerely like to apologize for believing it was appropriate to grab hay whenever I wanted. I had to stuff Precious Pony’s face full. Heaven forbid she stands for an hour deprived of hay. What I didn’t realize is that Precious wasn’t wasting away. Hay is freaking expensive. Every. Single. Flake. Is money. 

It was obnoxious to snag hay. If I believed you were truly starving Precious, I owed you a conversation. Sorry!

I also extend an apology for not thanking you regularly. I now comprehend what it takes to haul my butt out of my cozy bed on a frigid morning. I feel the pain of wrestling a frozen hose and slinging manure pucks into the wheelbarrow. I would absolutely prefer to skip chores and arrive in my heated vest to ride Precious Pony. You never had the choice to ditch the horses and sip a latte by the fire. Instead, you were out there caring for the herd. 

In the summer, scorching fly-filled days when sweat soaked every fiber of your clothes, you ensured the horses stayed comfortable and healthy. I’m genuinely sorry I didn’t express my gratitude enough or bring you a Strawberry Acai on the regular. What I understand now is that one thank you or kind gesture makes a stressful barn day less painful.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say MY BAD for believing everything in the barn should look like an Instagram reel. Days the stalls weren’t done ASAP, water was lowish, or the ring wasn’t dragged with a pretty pattern…. Well, now I recognize crap happens! You have a life beyond Precious Pony, and gasp, maybe even a family to care for too! 

Things come up. I’ve had sick kids upchucking into bowls, a spouse stuck at the airport, and busted-frozen pipes cramping my watering style. Crazy days make it extra hard to get everything looking just so. If the horses are regularly getting good care, blips aren’t a crisis. Precious Pony will survive to trot another day!

Turnout! Ugh. I was a brat. When I believed Precious Pony MUST go out to frolic, but the fields were a mucky mess, that wasn’t my call at your barn. In fact, Precious Pony would not only destroy your sopping fields, but she might pull shoes or come in limping. 

Currently, my fields are moats. Every time the horses gallop through the mud, I cringe. Turnout all the time isn’t always feasible or a solution.

I am also sorry if I didn’t respect your barn rules. Your barn is your pride and joy (when you can muster up joy after caring for Precious Ponies all day). I know I now savor my crossties clipped, halters hung on a bias, and aisle neatly swept. At the end of a longggg day, these details matter. Forgive me for the days I left my brushes strewn about or my muddy blanket heaped in a mountain on the floor.

Finally, my biggest regret… I wish I lent you a hand more often. On days you were overwhelmed and rushed, I wish I hadn’t zipped out of the barn. An extra set of hands for turnout or holding Precious Pony for the farrier goes a long way. Presently, those extra free minutes mean I can grab my daughter from preschool on time instead of dashing in late, a hay-covered-mom-failure.

Let’s face it. Most people don’t board because it’s a cash cow. They do it because they love horses, even if down the line they become a little jaded. If I disagreed with some of YOUR decisions at YOUR barn, I hope I was respectful and kind. If I wasn’t, shame on me. No matter how strongly I felt about Precious Pony’s care, hushed whispers among disgruntled boarders wasn’t the way to go. 

Now, when I take on a boarder at my farm, it is my choice. Though I will tolerate the owner and love Precious Pony like my own, at the end of the day, I own this joint. I want respect. You deserved the same.

Sincerely,

Jamie Sindell (Exhausted Owner of Wish List Farm est. 2022)

Jamie Sindell is a passionate equestrian blogger. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and a BS in Animal Science from Cornell. She has owned hunters on and off throughout her life. She is a mom of five kids, ages 3, 4, 7, 11 and 14. She and her family own Wish List Farm, where her horse-crazy girls play with their ponies. Her son and husband play with the tractor.