the barn is my safe place
Confessions of a Timid Rider,  Equestrian Life

The Barn is My Safe Place

Confessions of a timid rider: the barn makes me happy

I had a tough day recently. I woke up excited to work on something and have a “day off”, but then things took a turn for the worse with some bad news. Keeping busy helps, but when I find myself crying into my nachos there is a serious problem. I love nachos. And I do not cry in public.

So what did I do? I needed to pull myself together before the kids came home from school and the only thing I could think of was getting to my safe place….the barn.

There are many reasons that I love the barn. I am lucky that the barn where I ride, Lancaster Equestrian Stables, is almost 500 acres of glorious hills and valleys that are reminiscent of a much less suburban area. It’s truly an oasis in the heart of Monmouth County, New Jersey.

When I fight with my husband, get worried about my kids, or generally need a break from life- that’s where I go. Sometimes with my camera but often just to sit and look over the horses grazing in the valley below…..or like today, sobbing into the neck of my favorite horse, Delight.

For those of you who have already heard me mention Delight, sorry I’m not sorry. I’m quite vocal in my obsession with my trainer’s OTTB. Seriously, I basically wrote a love letter to him this week, in For The Love of A Thoroughbred. He’s a generally cranky sort and the perverse part of me loves it because his regard has to be earned. I respect that. Today rather than pin his ears at me, he came over the stall door and let me sob into his neck. He even hugged me a bit, which of course made me cry harder. But I felt better. Afterward, I sat on the tack box and just watched him and the other horses. Maybe I talked to him a little too……

the barn is my safe place

The compassion and empathy of horses make for ideal listeners.

I can’t explain it. Walking into a quiet barn and all the horses nicker to greet you. When it’s just you and the horses munching in their stalls or grazing contentedly in their paddocks. The smell of horse and yes, even manure is familiar and safe. It’s grounding, calming, and it is where I find my peace.

Somehow things don’t seem quite so sad anymore.

Do you find peace with animals? I’d love to hear your comments.

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  • Rochelle

    I love the way you find refuge in the barn, when stressed I take Layla, no electronics and go to the park to chill out, love it as it balances me out big time

  • Kamira Gayle

    Nice post. Yes I think being around animals brings such peace and serenity and at times laugher! Nice pics. I have visited Monmouth County NJ by Long Branch. Nice quiet community.

    • Heather Wallace

      I’m very near Long Branch! We have dinner there often. It’s hard to be upset surrounded by our furry friends, especially when they are being silly. They put things in perspective.

  • karen h.

    Horses do have a calmness about them. I work with dogs and cats and find that they have an instinctual way of knowing when we need calmness and comfort. Animals make great friends!

  • Robin

    I’m glad that your horse was there to help you through your difficult news. Life has too much of that! I find a lot of peace in spending time with my cats. They are good at dealing with my ever-changing emotions. Animals just have a sense about them that humans don’t. Perhaps all that extra brain power we have isn’t all that helpful after all.

    • Heather Wallace

      I totally agree with what you are saying, Robin. I think animals are instinctively empathetic, which is what makes them so sensitive to our moods and feelings. We can all learn a lot from them.

  • Bryn Nowell

    I’m so sorry to hear that you moistened your nachos with tears! It must have been a rough day to mess with the integrity of cheesy goodness.

    In all seriousness, though. I’m sorry to hear you had a rough day. Sometimes crying is what’s needed, but having a companion by your side that’s non-judgmental makes things a little easier to deal with. While I haven’t spent much time with horses, I know that when you look into their eyes, it’s like they’re telling you that they understand what you’re going through.

    I’ve had a difficult past year, mostly stemming from anxiety which has impacted my relationships. It’s amazing how in tune Bean and Yoda are. They know just the right thing to do to elicit a smile, or some sense of calm. I don’t know where I’d be without them.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Sending you love and well wishes. I’ll buy you some nachos if you come to BlogPaws <3

    • Heather Wallace

      Bryn, it’s a nacho date. (BTW they still taste good even with tears). I’m a Newbie this year at BlogPaws and looking forward to it! I’m sorry to hear of your anxiety, but I love that Bean and Yoda are there for you. They give so much to us. I’m lucky that both blogging and my day job as an animal massage therapist gives back to animals in some way, as I’m sure that you do.

  • Beth

    It has been a long time since I was around horses, but this brings back some memories. I can always count on my dogs Theo and Nelly when I’m feeling down.

    • Heather Wallace

      I don’t think species has anything to do with it, what matters is that you feel you can count on your animals. I love that Theo and Nelly are there for you!

  • Orla

    Couldn’t agree with you more. There is nothing better than going to the yard and spending some time around horses after a long day. I can get quite anxious at times but after 5 minutes at the yard, all my worries are forgotten about. I’ve yet to find anything that has had the same effect.

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