The Days Of Nothing In Particular But Everything That Matters

Share this article with your friends and family

Ada, it turns out, thinks wheelbarrows are quite magical, and most definitely mysterious. It was one of those very still, almost-winter-but-not-quite autumn days today, and looking into her paddock, I decided that it was time for some pooh picking.

The thing about picking up pooh, as many a horse owner will attest, is that in the right mood, it’s an activity that lets you slip between the cracks of time. It’s satisfying in the first instance. I see a tangible, measurable and obvious improvement from my efforts that is often absent in the much more intangible, somewhat less measurable, and often only vaguely obvious changes I see happen in my day-to-day work life.

Sometimes, I imagine what it must feel like to be a craftsman or something that creates things with their hands; the satisfaction of getting to mold and shape and hold something that you can share with others at the end of the day. For the moment, my little patch of ground and picking up the deposits that pepper it allow me to be the artisan of my own imagination. A weird tangent I’ll admit, but one that I find infinitely pleasurable.

Ada marches up to me, her solid body belying a lightness of step where her trotters seem to barely touch the earth. I stand and admire her, reaching out her neck to sniff the strange object that’s being wheeled around; the smells of the other horses wafting up her nose creating files of understanding that she will store and use for later.

I move and she moves too. There’s something about baby animals that is captivating. Without the haze of tiredness that often accompanies the exploits of baby humans, I can delight in what she delights in. I get to see the ordinary and the mundane in a whole new light.

It’s weird isn’t it, I tell her, this thing I’m pushing around. I walk away with my strange inanimate but at the same time mobile machine, and she gets braver, following us, at times convincing herself that she might have the power to make this thing move herself.

The smiles fall out of me. I decided that if I was ever to lose my smile, this would be the place to check. If I’ve still lost my smile when I’m here, something is most absolutely wrong.

I decide to venture further, grab the halter and lead from where it lies at the bottom of the gate, mutter at the ground to see how firm it is under foot and see what she thinks.

When there is no base of understanding on which to have a conversation, any interaction between you- every touch, every application of pressure, release of pressure, every scratch, every choice not to scratch- gets to mean something.

What to do you think, I ask her, if you put your nose in here. I gesture with the halter in a specific way.

If I pick up on the lead, do you understand what this means? And if not, what is the gentlest and clearest way I can tell you?

If I touch your chest, do you move back, or do you lean in?

The most basic of ABC’s being learned out in the paddock.

The usual coming and going of horses, being fed, being worked, no longer follows the same, predictable routine. Now with a baby in our midst, the childcare centre is open. We can no longer put the feeds out in the paddock with the understanding that the same size bellies with the same sized needs that eat at roughly the same pace will sort themselves out.

Now, one of those buckets is a pot of gold, a high octane, high protein, high deliciousness blend of beckoning goodness manned by the smallest and most vulnerable member of the herd. It’s game on.

Until the pesky humans get involved.

Feed time now is a shuffleboard assortment of multiple needs. It’s that horse there, you behind that tape, please do not pull that face at me, Ada please come here, no not you! The usual scrummage that accompanies the first few weeks of the routine being broken, making way for something new.

And with newness comes renewed appreciation. The time to sit still and let the whiskery, snuffly nose make its way around your feet, without needing to do or be anywhere or do anything else.

It’s leading your older horses and being grateful for what they know. That you come through the gate, lead them down the path, put the saddle on, up you hop and go without a second thought. I slip my hand under the cascading mass of Merc’s mane, whispering I’m grateful for him too.

These are the best days. The days of nothing in particular but everything that matters. The days you take photos of in your mind. The days when you look out and say thank you to no one in particular but to whoever it is that’s responsible for putting all of this together.

Whoever you are, when you made the horse, you did a very, very good job.

❤️ Jane

Have you checked out the Confident Rider Podcast? Don’t forget to subscribe to the show and share if you enjoyed it! The podcast is available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Google Play and Spotify.

Subscribe to The Confident Rider Podcast 🎧 below and discover why thousands of other riders are tuning in each week!

Join me for a free, 21-day challenge to incrementally expand your comfort zone and put some daily deposits in your Brave Bucket!