Saturday, March 28, 2020

Handing Over the Reins, slowly & gently

What a strange time we are living in right now.

But it is during this strange time that I am finally finding a way to be just a little less necessary around here, to do some stuff that I really used to enjoy doing a lot, to hand over the reins.  Very slowly. Very gently.  Just the way the horses like us to handle the reins.  

For the last few years I have been trying to make myself "unnecessary" around here.  And I have failed miserably.  Part of the problem is that it is hard for me to let go of something that I have been doing for sooooooooo long.  It is hard for me to trust others with the care of these rescued horses.  Greg and I personally, physically rescued most of these horses from starvation.  I mean, we (at the request of law enforcement) went and got them out of their bad place and put them into our trailer to take to a good place.  In most cases, we brought them back to health and in some cases we brought them back to life, pretty much.  For so long they have been my first responsibility when I get up and my last responsibility before I go to bed. I love taking care of them. I love them.  So that has been a part of the problem, as far as why it's been so hard to make myself unnecessary here.

Another huge part of the problem is that it has been really really hard to find reliable helpers to get all of the chore shifts covered.  If I'm going to be gone, we have to have some people around here that can clean a hoof, know what to do if colic happens, be able to do meds, special feeding plans, know which horses can be turned out with which other horses, know all of the horses and everything about them.  It's much more than cleaning stalls and filling water buckets.  From time to time we have had some really good volunteers.  And we certainly welcome really good volunteers.  But a really good volunteer for us, for the horses, is someone with horse experience, who doesn't have to be supervised once they are taught, who can hold a regular schedule hopefully at least 2 shifts a week, who considers this volunteer opportunity one of the most precious privileges in the world, and doesn't just show up when there is nothing else to do, and who wants to do this forever (or at least for many years).  And that's pretty dang hard to find, volunteers like that.  We used to be able to hire neighbor kids to come over on the weekends and after school and pay them 6 bucks an hour and they were happy to have the job.  Now, of course,  we have to pay a lot more than that!!!  And the horses are getting older and have more and more special needs, special feeding programs, meds, etc.  So now our paid employees get paid a lot more than they used to.  and even at that, I could tell you some unbelieveable stories about some of the employees who didn't quite work out here.

But now, for the first time in a long, long time, probably close to 15 years, I feel like I can start to hand over the reins a little bit at a time.  We have really good helpers here now.  We have Heidi, Travis, Melissa, Kyrstin and Sarah.  And you will get to meet them here soon.  Kyrstin is going to take over some of our communications like facebook, this webblog, etc.  So you will be noticing some changes on here soon.  Kyrstin used to hang out here when she was in high school.  But then she graduated, went to college, got married, went to film school, lived in Hollywood, and I don't even know where all she has been.  But now, more than 10 years later, she's back!!!!  Heidi has been here for more than 10 years but mostly on the weekends as she is a full-time Vet Tech in town.  Travis might be getting close to 3 years here.  Melissa started this winter, and Sarah is a bonus that I didn't know we would have but we do.  She's doing a college ag-related internship here with us.  And then Greg and I (Darci).  So we have quite a great crew right now.

So, little by little, I am finally making myself a little bit unnecessary around here.  I have even gone away overnight a few times this year.  Most of you will think this very odd, but I hadn't spent a night away from home for many many many years before this year.  Because I couldn't.  Because of all of  the animals that we take care of here.  And also because I don't really like being away from home.  I love being here with the animals.

It's just that , you know when people get a certain age and we start saying, "you know, I ain't getting any younger,"  well, that's where I'm at.  And there are some things that I used to do that I want to do again.  One of them is Reining!  So, once we got our chore shifts covered here and once I could let go of some of the horse care responsibilities here, I went in search of a Reining horse.  I wanted one already trained, because I was hoping to be able to show right away this year.  And I also wanted to keep the horse at a Reining facility that has proper ground for doing the sliding stops, etc.  So, my first trip away from home in I don't really know how many years, was a 5-day trip to Texas & Oklahoma.  A really super duper nice & knowledgeable Trainer from the Omaha area, John Weber, took me South in search of my new horse.  So she stays with John and he keeps her ridden for me and continues to advance her training.  Everything was going great!  I'd go to Omaha on Friday, ride Melody on Friday and Saturday, and drive home.  I ordered a new saddle, renewed my NRHA & AQHA memberships, got a new show bridle, show blanket, show shirts, chaps, a new hat, etc. etc.  Had the first show picked out.

and then you know what happened.  The virus.

Now there are no shows scheduled.  I don't want to stay overnight anywhere.  I don't really want to go anywhere.  How quickly life can change.  How quickly our plans and goals can seem like failures.  But of course they really aren't.  Things will get better.  We're just not sure when.  But when they do, I'll be ready!

I'll be ready because we have such a great crew here at New Hope Horse Shelter now, I know that when the time is right I will be able to go to shows and still know that the horses here are getting excellent care.   Even though I'm not here!

Greg and I don't have everything figured out yet.  It's still hard for us to think about both being gone overnight at the same time.  So so far we make sure one of us is here at night.  Yesterday though we both went to Omaha to visit Melody and so I could get a lesson from John.  We took our two Black Labs with us, took our own food, didn't stay overnight, drove around with a bottle of soap and rubbing alcohol and were as careful as we could be if we stopped to use a restroom or anything.

What a strange time we are living in right now.

But it is during this strange time that I am finally finding a way to be just a little less necessary around here, to do some stuff that I really used to enjoy doing a lot, to hand over the reins.  Very slowly. Very gently.  Just the way the horses like us to handle the reins.