The last few months have been a whirlwind for me and for many of my friends. After graduating from college, many of us left home to explore new locations, jobs, and connections.
It can be hard to find a new balance in friendships with physical distance. Especially with working in a barn, when most interactions involve four-legged friends instead of two, day to day routines can feel isolated. Additionally, with the crazy weird hours necessary in an equestrian lifestyle of any kind, finding time to connect with both horsey and non-horsey friends can be challenging.
I feel incredibly lucky to have some wonderful and understanding friends when it comes to my schedule, travel and commitment to horses. With two moves for work in the past few months, my friends have texted and called to make sure I’m settling in well. A friend of mine who’s deployed sends me letters, keeping communication interesting, creative, and fun. My parents send me care packages. My sister and I keep up on our favorite shows. Additionally, I have been warmly welcomed by both of my new barn families!
Being around so many people (near and far) who have gone out of their way to make my transitions and days more welcoming, warm, and easy has encouraged me to grow in how I show up for my friends as well – both human and equine.
Showing up for our human and equine friends helps individuals through the ups and downs, in and out of equestrian sports.
Finding and scheduling time to call friends around their schedules, or spontaneously calling to hear about their days shows that I care about what’s going on in their lives. As I go about my day, I look out for moments, experiences, or gifts that remind me of them. I send articles about which I’d love to have a conversation. And I remind them that I care about them and am here for them, always.
Always thinking of ways to make days better for others and paying close attention to details not only has the opportunity to help us develop our human relationships, but our relationships with our horses as well.
By looking for ways to improve the day for our horse and by seeking out “little” things, like wiping down their tack after the ride, hand grazing them for a few moments for a change of pace, or being aware of their energy and mood and adapting our approaches and schedules, we can show up for them similar to how we show up for our friends.
Putting in time and effort to ensure our horses’ physical, emotional, and mental well-being is key to their long term happiness. Although as riders we always look out for our horses, pushing the envelope to challenge ourselves to think about new ways to connect with and support our horses can develop our partnerships beyond what was previously possible.
Through showing up as a good friend and horseman or horsewoman, we can look out and support one another in our well-being as we go through new challenges and opportunities in life. Knowing you have a support system as your team to cheer you on on the good days, support you when you’re down, and strive to make each day a bit better, will sweeten the good times and help you during the bad times. With so many ups and downs in (and out of) the horse world, turning to and providing this support is critical so we don’t have to face what comes next alone.