Ups and Downs are Often the Same Thing
By Aliena Hook
Lots of people tell me, “You have the best job in the world.” This may or may not be true, but as with any job, working for a boarding facility comes with its ups and downs. So why would I rather work in a barn than at the Starbucks down the street?
Pro: The Horses!
The most rewarding part of the job is working with the horses. It’s many a girl’s dream to play with horses all day and I am fortunate enough to do so. Every day I laugh at their antics and quirks and sit in the field watching them graze and play. They’re the reason I’m at the barn at sunrise and sunset even in the snow and rain. Horses make me feel whole and at home when I’m with them.
Con: The Horses!
Working with horses does come with its challenges, however. Green horses, young horses, nervous horses, the I don’t want to come in horses. Each and every one brings challenges. Tomorrow I might get pulled across the lawn because a bird glided in front of us, or my arm will get yanked from its socket because––grass! But the more times the unpredictable happens the better I get at dealing with the situation, so I chalk all that up to my gaining more horsemanship skills.
Pro: The People
Being a stable worker grants me the opportunity to meet people from many walks of life who love horses. I’ve met trainers, breeders, racers, and trail riders. My favorite thing about the job is making new friends. Some are just passing through, but others, like my friend Tesha, have been with me through thick and thin. I may never have met her had it not been for the barn and our shared love of horses.
Con: The People
As with the horses, a barn worker deals with all sorts of people––high needs to high strung, down to earth to scatter-brained and so on. You have to learn to understand and communicate well even with people who may get on your nerves. Ultimately, the barn worker is there for both horse and owner. It’s my job to keep them happy so they can enjoy their time together, no matter what.
Pro: It’s Hard Work
Lots of people joke about this, but it’s true you don’t have to go to the gym when you work in the barn five plus hours a day. Everything’s a workout, from shoveling manure to lugging around feed. My fitness tracker says I do an average of eight miles a day! No need for the treadmill after all that. I gain muscle, lose fat, burn calories, and go home starving for a hearty meal.
Con: It’s Hard Work
It’s demanding physical work and you have to learn how to properly take care of your body. All hard work comes with the usual aches and pains, but one wrong heft of a grain bag and you’ll be reaching for the ibuprofen bottle. Stable work is no joke and you have to stay physically fit to keep up with the daily demands on your body.
Pro: Working Outside
Who wants to be stuck in the office on a beautiful spring day? Not me, that’s for sure. I love how my job not only keeps me physically active, but it keeps me outside. It keeps the dirt in my calluses fresh and heightens my connection to the natural world and its elements.
Con: Working Outside
Speaking of the elements, the weather can be a pain. I freeze in winter and broil in summer. Winter means lugging the sledgehammer out to the water troughs and chipping away at frozen “poop-sicles”. Summer means scooping dead flies and larvae out of the water troughs and mimicking the horses swatting flies with your pony tail. And sometimes I curse at the sky when the wind throws the poop shavings right back in your face.
But really, the pros outweigh the cons and I wouldn’t trade my job for anything. It has given me many opportunities in life and keeps me sane and happy. I go home at the end of the day feeling accomplished. Plus, I get to pet all the pretty ponies!
Aliena Hook is a Western Washington University graduate who lives and works in Bellingham, Washington. She hopes to continue with her creative writing degree and has a passion for all kinds of horses. Aliena is in current pursuit of careers in both writing and horse training. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Facebook at www.facebook.com/aliena.hook.