My second day as an intern at the therapeutic riding center was slightly less dramatic than the first – at least, I didn’t have to be there until 2:00 in the afternoon, and I was over my illness!
I met Marcy, the program coordinator – a bright knowledgeable girl who is currently finishing her bachelor’s degree in Equine Therapy at the local college – who was waiting for a bigwig from a local corporation to come visit the farm with his wife and kids. Apparently they are planning to hold a fundraiser that will benefit the riding center, so it seemed to be helpful that I was there to take over some of the farm chores.
While Marcy attended to her visitors, I finished giving the horses hay and water, then set about cleaning stalls. Six horses stay in at night, so each of these stalls need to be picked last thing in the afternoon and first thing in the morning. Standing in a wet stall is bad for the horses’ feet (not to mention everyone’s sense of smell). While this may sound like a terrible fate to some, I don’t mind it at all. Not only is mucking stalls a great form of exercise, but it’s also a great chance to bond with the horses – many of whom can be found lounging in their stalls during the heat of the day.
Shortly after the visitors left the farm, Marcy showed me how to feed the horses – no small feat for a large barn! Fact is, many of the horses are overweight (as their kind is wont to be) so they only get a few mouthfuls. This doesn’t curb their enthusiasm, however, and I couldn’t help but smile as the stable was filled with the insistent nickers that make up any barn’s feeding time chorus.
Finally, we put some of the horses out to pasture for the night, a strategy used by many barns to keep them from suffering during the heat of day during summer. The stable itself remains surprisingly cool, thanks to a swift cross breeze and the fans that are hooked to each stall. It has always amused me to see the droopy-eyed equine faces, carefully positioned to take full advantage of the artificial breezes, blissful from the effects of the cool comfort… and from the fact that fans also help keep much-hated flies at bay!
Perhaps the best part of the day (aside from the fact that I was allowed to pet, handle and care for the horses) was finally meeting Darla, the Executive Director at the center. An energetic, lithe woman, she came across as both friendly and focused – a great combination for someone who is charged with running such an impressive operation! I am looking forward to learning from her and from everyone else at the center (including the horses and riders) throughout my internship!