A few nights ago, I had to grab something quickly from inside the barn that I’d forgotten. I was in a hurry, and frustrated that I’d been forgetful, and I had a length of barn aisle to go get it. I sped up and jogged one, two steps.
And then I stopped and went back to a fast walk. I realized in that moment that “no running in the barn” is a rule that has been physically ingrained into me. I cannot take more than one step of jog anywhere near the barn – not even out near turnout, not even on the driveway. Can’t do it. At some impressionable point in my past, an instructor imprinted that rule deeply into my brain.
Then I got to thinking: what other unconscious rules do people have for the barn? What is so anathema to you that you can’t even imagine doing it?
Many of these are rooted in safety and common sense, I’m sure, but there are plenty of other rules I break without thinking about it, especially around Tristan. So why did these stick so firmly?
Here are a few more of mine.
Wearing sandals in the barn. Can’t do it. No way, no how. I get nervous just thinking about it. Tender toes and horse hooves do not mix.
Wear a helmet every time, every ride. I have mounted exactly twice without a helmet in my life and both times within a few strides felt a strange disorientation, like I’d never been on a horse before, or like Tristan had suddenly changed size or shape. It was the absent weight and feel on my head.
Always use gloves to handle horses. I can remember the precise moment I learned this one, and the incredible pain from all the rope burn blisters. Now, I never, ever, ever, EVER hold a rope or a rein that’s attached to a horse bare-handed. NEVER.