When I was 20, I read a Bob Hope quote that made me jealous of 60-year olds: “When I was 20, I worried about what people thought of me. When I turned 40, I didn't care what people thought of me. When I turned 60, I realized that they weren't thinking of me at all."
When I started working at my new stable last year, I found even more reason to be jealous of 60-year olds and even 70-year olds.
In December when I applied for a work-to-ride lease, I liked that the ad read "drama-free barn, just some old gals who love horses!” When I showed up my first day, I realized that was refreshingly true. There was zero gossip or criticism, just lovely ladies in their happy place who want to keep it that way.
The longer I’m there, the more I am suspicious that somewhere in the very far back reaches of the wooded trails there must be a fountain of youth hiding. At the age of 50, I am chronologically one of the young'uns at the barn. The best thing about that is that I am surrounded by living and inspirational proof that I should be able to enjoy being an active part of my horse's life for at least another 20 years. The worst thing about being one of the younger workers is that it can be embarrassing when a shorter, thinner, older lady out-hustles me, hoisting muck buckets without breaking a sweat, and certainly without sighing or complaining. I am in a constant state of awe and education.
What truly mesmerizes me is the beautiful bond that exists between the ladies who have been the sole owner of their horse for ten or more years. My 65-year old friend Donna can walk into her horse Dexter's stall when he's lying down resting and lie down on the fresh hay beside him, leaning on his shoulder, no spooking or startling, no questions asked. He trusts her implicitly and the miracle is that she trusts him, after a rocky start that included her spending a few days in the hospital and weeks in recovery as the result of a particularly bad spook. As she tells me the story of her horrific fall, she tells it completely from Dexter's point of view, no recriminations, no hard feelings - just everlasting and unconditional love.
Through the example of my new stable friends, I have found that same love with my horse Sportie. Maybe on one of our trail rides Donna will show me where I can find that hidden fountain of youth.