First Dates, First Impressions, The Joy of the Horse.

Jenny (the Director of Sales and Queen of Friendly at barnmanager.com) and I just returned from Denton, Texas where we visited with the AWESOME teams at Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses and McQuay Stables. We had an absolute blast, and have some exciting new features and programing coming your way!

Tom McCutcheon Reining Horses McQuay Stables

But more interestingly, Jenny and I had some very entertaining and somewhat enlightening conversation over dinner one night. As part of Jenny’s job at barnmanager.com, she finds herself meeting lots of new and interesting people on a daily basis. She is also the type of person who can walk up to anyone and have them laughing in a matter of seconds. She has this charismatic halo that follows her and envelops everyone in her presence. She is truly a ray of sunshine, and I am not exaggerating.

barn manager team member

Jenny is constantly reminded about the significance of first impressions. First impressions are her life. And lucky for her, she tends to leave a good one. But in our lives as both humans and equestrians, we find ourselves constantly struggling with how we hope to impress ourselves upon the universe. Obviously, everyone wants to leave a “good” impression. But what does that mean?

person in a store aisle

Our equestrian upbringing has made us who and what we are. We have learned that nothing worth getting comes without hard work, some ups and downs, and often sacrifice. While Jenny and I are wildly different people with wildly different personalities, we find that our work ethic and our overall attitude and approach towards “work” is the same. This comes in large part  from the way we were raised….and by raised, of course i must lend some credit to our parents, but mostly I mean how horses raised us. Nothing given. Respect earned day after day. Things changing in an instant. Adapting could sometimes mean scrapping months of hard work and starting anew. And the rewards were epically more gratifying.

person on a horse

If you came of age in a barn, you know what I mean. We take pride in everything that we do. In every accomplishment and in every failure we search for meaning and understanding.

We are proud of who we have become and how we arrived at this place. And yet, as Jenny discussed with me over a glass of Malbec, what does it mean for the non-horsey when we reveal ourselves as “people who ride horses?” What do our roles as “horse-girls,” equestrians or even people who work in the Equine Industry lend to their first impressions of us?

back view of a person on a horse

While on a first date with a Dealer of Rare Violins (I will never be able to understand how or where she meets these people), Jenny struggled with the choice of whether or not to tell her new acquaintance what exactly she does for a living. What will it mean to him? And how on earth can one explain that they sell Web-based software to horse farms? Jenny and I seem to have found a way to keep one foot firmly planted in the horse world while allowing the other to dangle to and fro, testing the waters and occasionally diving in thigh high. Is it more of a 3rd or 4th date kind of thing? (This is all assuming that we allow them the luxury).

I assume that for anyone with anchors in two universes this question arises sooner or later. We are who we are, for better or worse. We aim to be our best selves, and to put that out into the world for others to see. And my best self is the person that horses made me to be.

For Jenny, the answer became clear as she started describing her job, and ultimately her life to her new musical friend. She hesitated at first when he asked her what she does for a living. It is nearly impossible to qualify or quantify what we do to a non-horse person. Jenny struggles with the fact that many of her childhood friends are pursuing careers as doctors, lawyers and real estate developers and seemingly having a larger impact on the world. What she does tends to feel small and immaterial in comparison.

horse and rider going over a jump

As she described to him what barnmanger.com is,  how it came to be, and how she has helped to develop it from its weanling stages, his face grew harder and harder to read. So she kept talking and struggling to explain something that is always slightly inexplicable. When she stopped, the violin dealer reveled in her passion, which he said shone in her eyes as she spoke about horses and the role that they play in her life. He found himself floored by how much she loved what she was doing and jealous that he did not feel so strongly about his Violins. (I imagine they aren’t nearly as cuddly as a horse).

What Jenny discovered that night was that a passion for horses goes so far beyond a first impression. It reveals something much deeper. If the recipient of such information is paying close enough attention, they will feel that extra je ne sais quoi that makes Jenny who she is. They will see in the way her eyes light up that she knows some special secret that maybe one day she will share with them (if they are lucky). She may not be curing diseases or amassing a great fortune, but she is living a noble life by living with a joy that is contagious: the joy of the horse.

person on a horse

horse selfie

Alaska: A story of me…because of him

Before moving into the Washington International Horse Show for the week, I made a quick trip down to Gordonsville, Virginia to visit the beautiful rehab facility and farm that is Oak Hill. Oak Hill is owned and operated by Dr. Timothy Ober DVM (U.S.E.T. Show Jumping team vet) and his amazing team. But most importantly, Oak Hill is the home to my horse Alaska for his retirement years. Alaska turned 20 this year summer, and my visit included much celebrating and reflecting on our time together.

horse in a field

Anyone who loves an animal understands that there is a unique bond between human and animal. There is a silent language, often accompanied by looks of understanding, unsolicited displays of affection, and a certain loyalty that two humans are not capable of recreating between one another. Whether it is a dog who never leaves your side when you are home sick, or a horse that makes you question whether you are the one in charge, they make us feel whole.

kissing a horse on the nose

The joy that I felt in seeing how happy my horse is living out his retirement surrounded by breathtaking scenery, caring people, and an abundance of everything that a horse could ever dream of was all encompassing. I walked around the farm smiling from ear to ear, inhaling slowly and allowing the fresh country air to sweep me into a state of bliss.

On a quiet Sunday morning, I sat in the grass in the middle of his beautiful green paddock. I watched him move slowly and pleasantly around the field following the best grass. Every few minutes, he came over to where I sat and checked in, patted me down in search of treats, looked at me with is big warm eyes, and went back to munching. I think that anyone who passed by probably thought that I was crazy, but I never feel more at home than I do when I am near him.

horse in field with person

Alaska came into my life by accident. He came to me as a circumstance of coincidence and luck, and I never could have predicted just what luck he was bringing along with him. He was a kind and generous teacher. One that never held a mistake against me for even a nanosecond and who rewarded me generously for my growth and development. As a rider and horseperson, I was better for having him in my life.

horse going over a jumprider hugging a horse

 

He spurred my interest in horse care and management. Growing up a barn rat, I spent as much time with the horses and in the barn as I could. But with Alaska, my time in the barn became more focused. I wanted to learn to care for him in the best ways. I stalked vets, farriers, chiropractors and more, listening, trying to see what they were seeing. and feel what they felt. I became more in tune to the subtleties of communication between animal and human.

close up of a horse's eye

And in the meantime, Alaska did his thing. He taught, he was patient, and he brought happiness and purpose to my life. And so, it was only appropriate that he played a leading role in shining a light on what was to become the most trying time of my young life.

At 17 years old, thinking that I had life nearly figured out, my world came crashing down. Alaska was so gentle and kind that to fall off of him was an embarrassment in itself. At the time, I had never had the pleasure of falling from the 18.2 hand equine’s back. So when I lost my balance and struggled to come off as gently as possible, I found myself in a special kind of pain. Along with a bruised ego, I had fractured a couple of ribs. Broken ribs require x-ray.

From Alaska’s back to x-rays and CAT Scans and blood work and PET Scans. A tumor had been growing inside my chest. Did he know? My parents were convinced that his wisdom extended into the supernatural. To them, he saved my life. All that I know is that it happened. I fell off of him for the first time during our partnership, and I fell in such a way that a chest x-ray was required, and a chest x-ray got the ball rolling that led to a diagnoses of Stage 3 Lymphoma.

person kissing a horse on the nose

I don’t know if he was an agent of fate. I don’t know if he was brought to my life for this reason. But as I sat on the grassy hill, watching him make his way slowly across the field in my direction, I didn’t care. I am not here without him; I am not me without him.

Cancer is terrifying. Everything in your life turns backwards, upside down and inside out. We all go through challenges in life, and we all handle these challenges to the best of our ability. But Alaska made it easy. He remained a constant source of light, love and happiness. While some people looked at me with sadness or  fear and struggled to find things to say that did not need to be said, Alaska looked at me the same. If possible, he was maybe kinder and gentler than ever. He sustained me. He rescued me from dark places, he gave me consistency, hope and peace.

horse wearing a birthday hat

As I sit here today, 8 years of remission under my belt, I am so grateful to see him living the life that he deserves. We celebrated his 20th birthday with a birthday bag filled with 20 lbs of carrots. I think he is in the prime of his life. He spends his days surrounded by beauty, perhaps the same beauty that he brought to my life. The beauty of waking up each day and looking forward to what life has in store for you. The beauty of appreciating each day for what it brings and not wanting for more. The beauty of knowing that no matter where you go or how you get there, you are lucky enough to be here in the first place. And the beauty in knowing that we found each other, and the rest just is.

horse selfie

“We found each other, and the rest just is.”

 

Longines Global Champions Tour in London

As Riders file into the beautiful Show Grounds in Lausanne for the next stop on the Global Champion’s Tour, we thought it would be the perfect time to share with you our first Blog Post. Barnmanager.com Client and Texas Native Meagan Nusz reported in from the Longines Global Champions Tour in London, and we are so proud to have her as our first Guest Blog author. We hope you enjoy hearing from Meagan as much as we do! And if you have any ideas or suggestions for future posts, e-mail us at info@barnmanager.com!
Hi everyone!! Meagan Nusz here blogging for my friends at barnmanager.com from the AMAGING LGCT London horse show!! The past week was almost surreal. The venue was absolutely breathtaking and London happens to be one of my very favorite places to visit in the world so that was icing on the cake!
The infamous Horse Guards Parade was the host for this 11th leg of the LGCT tour. Not only was it within walking distance of Buckingham Palace (and no the Queen was not there…I checked) but the horses were able to stroll through St James’s Park which was incredible! I brought my horses SRI Aladdin and Waomi to jump the 2* divisions. They were accompanied by their super groom Ariana.
We started out the week with a 1 2 finish in the opening Thursday class. The show ring was beautiful and quite a nice size which is not always the case at a lot of these location shows. The schooling ring however, proved to be quite the challenge…YIKES! I was just happy I was on two horses that didn’t have traffic problems because that could have been a serious disaster! It was so small and could hardly hold 10 horses comfortably! If you survived out there the ring was actually the EASY part:)
Believe it or not the weather was spectacular. A few rain showers here and there (mostly when Kent was riding not me haha) but quite cool which was surprising for London at this time of year! I obviously didn’t get the memo when I packed of course. So typical. The walk from the 2* barn to the ring was quite the hike! Definitely wanted to make sure you left a bit early to make it to the class on time. I couldn’t complain though because you were able to walk through St James’s Park..even on the horses..and it was so beautiful! The flowers, lake, ducks and other wildlife really made for a fantastic setting. The squirrels would even eat right out of your hands. At some points it didn’t even seem real.
Grand Prix day was held on Saturday where Great Brittan’s Scott Brash took the win! I know…how fitting!! Kent and Voyeur aka Froggy had a really cheap rail in the second round. My parents and I enjoyed the class from the VIP tent that was decorated to a T. When we were not at the horse show we enjoyed eating at all of the amazing restaurants London has to offer. I will definitely say I have had my fill of Indian food! And of course the shopping….now that’s dangerous! Any money I won I definitely spent that’s for sure! I must say that this is 100% my most favorite show and I cannot wait to come back next year!!