My Saturday mornings are always the same but in no way monotonous. I get to the stables at 9 am and work until 11 am, then groom, ride and just hang out with Sportie until 1 pm.
I've worked in barns over the years with girls who just enjoyed being around the horses, and would say it would be nice to go for a ride but it didn't really matter either way. I always felt robbed if for whatever reason my chores didn't end with a ride. That is the carrot at the end of the stick that keeps me mucking stalls, scrubbing waterers, and shoveling weightless shavings.
Thanks to my co-stablehand, I am now sharing cleaning duties with is of the exact same mind. Lisette and I have worked together a year now, and out of 52 Saturdays there were only 2 that were rideless, due to torrential rain and no indoor facilities. When she texted me this past Saturday and said, "The wind is far too cold and brisk this morning. I think I will just groom Rocky after chores and call it a day."
I checked the wind chill and seeing it was single digits, I had to reluctantly agree. Nevertheless I drove to the barn looking forward to seeing Sportie as I always do, even if it would just be from ground level.
I did my chores, finding shelter from the harsh winds within the stalls. Then, as I exited the final stall, I saw Sportie in the pasture, warmly blanketed and in the safety of his shelter. I went through the gate and as I rattled the chain to close it, Sportie's ears pricked up and his handsome head swung towards me. I stood with my back to him and the wind, warm within my layers of fleece and windbreaker, knowing he would come to me. He quickly crossed the 50 feet that separated us and I saw his shadow materialize on the ground beside me.
I gave him a mint and then wrapped my arms around his neck, burrowing my nose into his warm mane. His head dropped onto my shoulder and we just stood there for a few minutes, for once with no demands, nowhere we needed to be, no ride we had to accomplish, no lessons we had to learn. We soaked up the suns' rays and simultaneously released deep breaths. Then I scratched his ears one after the other, and patted his soft muzzle. He had some dirt buildup in the corners of his big brown eyes and he allowed me to rub my hands softly over his forehead and down over his eyes, wiping them clean. All the things we usually do as part of his grooming, but usually leading to getting a ride in.
I hung from his neck for another few minutes, got him to flex his neck right and left for a treat, then just leaned into him for forever. Well not forever, but I wish it could have been. Sometimes it's important to just "be" instead of "do." I didn't feel robbed when I drove away from the stables that day. I felt filled to overflowing.