Letting your inner 8 year old give you a pep talk

Sometimes, barn chores suck.

There is nothing fun about hauling individual water buckets down a frozen lane to fill a 100 gallon water trough because your water spigot froze (like it did last winter).  There is nothing fun about going out to the barn with a headache, or head cold, or stomach flu.  (I’ve done all three.)  And there is nothing fun about forgoing potential plans with friends, or trips, or vacations, because you have to take care of the ranch.

Occasionally, taking care of the critters is the last thing I want to do.

Here’s the trick though: sometimes, when hauling my butt to the barn to do what needs to be done, and I’m grumpy and irritated, I let my inner 8-year-old give me a pep talk.

Everyone has that kid who they used to be buried inside somewhere.  Mine just happens to be a horse obsessed little girl in pigtails.

From whatever age I was first self-aware, I was obsessed with horses and ponies, but when I was 8, I started actually riding horses.  I wore pale pink cowboy boots with fringe and glitter; I’m pretty sure they were never intended to see the inside of a barn.    My pint-sized helmet made my head look huge, and my parents had to buy me a ring to wear on one of my fingers because I was still really bad at telling my left from my right.

I still have memories of that first ride, the first time I ever settled into a saddle…and walked around in a circle.  I mean, if we’re being honest, there was nothing at all exciting about those first few rides.  The horses played follow the leader, and I sat there, thinking I was riding but in reality I was only sitting.  Still, I was thrilled!

As a kid, riding lessons were absolutely the highlight of my week.  I adored all of the horses I rode, even the more difficult ones, and I wanted a horse of my own more than anything else on the planet.

So, on the days when barn chores suck and my head hurts and I want to scream for things not going well, I try to channel that eight-year-old who would have given up every last material possession she had to have her own horse.

A few weeks ago, when one of my horses had an absolute hissy fit during our lesson and I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to scream or maybe cry (it hadn’t been a great week before the lesson either):

Me: “I hate this.  I hate this.  I hate this.  One easy horse.  I just want one easy horse.”

8 year old self: “You have a horse!”

Me: “Yup.  I have a horse…one who is acting like a complete turd.”

8 year old self: “But you have a horse.”

Me: (With a notable sigh and shrug…) “Actually, I have five…”

8 year old self: *Jaw drops to floor.*

Me:  “…and llamas.”

8 year old self: “You should never, ever be sad.”  (Life is simpler when you’re eight.)

Nothing is ever all good or all bad.  Most of the time, by a landslide, the farm and my critters are good.  Sometimes, they aren’t, but when they’re not, it helps to remember that they are literally my childhood dream come true.

And that I, and my inner eight year old, love them to absolute pieces.

DSC_0629 DSC_0620


2014-03-09 16.15.24
And of course, my wonderful llamas!




My (horsey) history (Morana Part 1)

As a child, I wanted a horse.   I don’t mean casually or intermittently the way many little girls want a horse.  I was obsessed. From the age of eight, my life revolved around horses.  My favorite day of the week was whatever day I had a riding lesson, and while other little girls had bedrooms plastered with photos of heart-throbs, my was plastered with posters of ponies.

My parents would entertain the idea of a horse for a moment or two, but, as with most people, they always came back to the expense involved in keeping a horse.  I remember when I was around twelve, at Christmastime, just when I thought I was making headway on the horse front, my uncle had a conversation with my mother that drilled the final nail in my imaginary horse’s coffin.  (For this to make any sense, you need to know that my uncle was a horse trainer once upon a time.)

Mom: “She’s doing really well in lessons.  You should see her ride sometime.  The trainer says that the next step is a horse of her own.”

(I, of course, was grinning ear to ear with pride, even though the adults were doing that thing that adults do where they talk about you like you aren’t there.)

Uncle: “Oh Lord.  Don’t do that.  What is she, twelve?  When she turns thirteen, she’ll get interested in boys and forget all about horses.  I’ve seen it happen a million times.”

My mom sort of glanced at me and nodded, accepting his advice.

And my grin failed.


The truth is, I never did “forget about horses” or get obsessed with boys in the way he predicted.  (I’m that freak who didn’t date all through high school and college so that I could focus on my studies…yup…that girl.)  I ended up working for the llama ranch eventually, and, when my dad’s business hit a rough patch, I stopped taking riding lessons for a while.  In retrospect, I’m glad they didn’t get me a horse, because during that year, when finances tightened up so much, I’m not sure we would have been able to keep it.  And that would have broken my heart.

Instead, at 19, I bought my first llama.  I think I kind of thought then that the horse dream was dead…or at least on hold until I was much, much older.  But then, when I was 23, I finally met that boy that everyone had been warning my mother about since I was 13 (the one who would inevitably make me forget about horses).  Turns out, he had a horse…

Jeremiah and his filly
Jeremiah and his filly