I spend most of my time at the barn, and it’s been that way for as long as I can remember. We never run out of stuff to do, the fun is endless. In the summer we go trail riding bareback, stopping to pick apples and raspberries along the way. When it rains hard enough we have a make shift Slip ‘N Slide in the grass in front of our barn. Trips to Wawa in the summer always start with a fight over who gets shotgun and who gets stuck with the hump, because there’s not enough room in the King Ranch for all five or six of us, plus Taylor dog, to have a seat. But it’s not a real fight, of course, and by the time we all get our hoagies and blue raspberry slushies everyone is happy again, and we’re singing Kenney Chesney at the top of our lungs. I’m positive there’s never been a dull moment at our barn.
Our barn is a second home to us- yes we have even slept there. Vandolah Stables isn’t very big or well known; when I tell people where I ride they usually answer with “huh, never heard of it”. We don’t do a lot of A-rated shows, where those other barns compete. But we have things the bigger, fancier barns will never have. The instructors at the big barns would be too busy to drive us to Wawa, and we would never be allowed to cool off in the water troughs in the pastures like we do, because we would spook the horses, those easily excitable show horses. Sure, a lot of our horses are retired and too old to ride, but I guarantee you will not find better cared for or more loved animals anywhere. My trainer, Sarah, recently told me about a horse that had to be put down at another barn. It was recovering from surgery, but no one noticed when the symptoms returned. When my horse had the same surgery last year, someone was always there to keep an eye on her. My horse needed food and medicine every two hours, and even in the middle of the night someone was there to give it to her. She is perfectly healthy now, thanks to Vandolah Stables, the small barn no one’s heard of.
I believe that what counts is the small things, the immaterial things. Our barn is not big or fancy, but it is the best in the world. My horse is alive because of the care she received there, because the people there cared for her, and for me. And this isn’t just about riding barns. This could be at your work, your school, among your group of friends. I believe there is something to be said for the small and the humble. For whatever is lacking, be it wealth, fame, or whatever, there is something else in that place. There is contentment, friendship, peace, and love; things worth more than winning blue at that A rated show. This I believe.