Keith Hunt - Wrangling on the Range - Page Ninety-two   Restitution of All Things

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Wrangling on the Range #92

Standing outside the fire



by Taryn Korstens-Smith

As equestrians, we tend to settle into a fairly regular routine
that revolves around our horses; we get up, get ready for our
day, go to work, come home and head out to the barn to get a ride
in before supper. But what happens when you change the routine
and are suddenly thrown into an unfamiliar barn full of people
who don't know that your horse doesn't eat carrots and loves
apples, and a staff who though trustworthy, doesn't know that in
the mornings, your horse gets pushy about going outside before
the horse beside him? As horse people we are accustomed to what
we know and know well, when what we know changes or is forced to
change, we must adapt but that is not always easily done.

In moving to a different province, two things became evident:
One, I had no clue where I was going to find my next horse, and
two, how would I find any horses if I had no contacts to help me?
I have moved to British Columbia for university and although I
know it is the best choice I have made in my life, I worry about
horses because I don't know that I can live without them. Finding
a barn has been difficult because most barns still do not have
comprehensive websites, if any website. You would be surprised by
the number of useless hits you get on Google when you look up
"Victoria area dressage." As my search continues I keep wishing I
knew someone who could point me in the right direction. I am
grateful however that I do not have a horse of my own
responsibility because after being here a month I still have not
found a barn to ride at and I think about what I would have done
with a horse for that month.

And once I find a barn, how long will it take for me to settle
into that barn's routine? I knew my last barn so well that
everything flowed perfectly and I want that in my next barn but I
can't realistically expect it to be like that right away at a new
barn. If I walk into a feed room instead of a tack room, will the
people look at me like I have grown an extra head? And as a young
equestrian, I most importantly wonder how long it will take for
me to earn the respect I had at home. Maybe my fears are
unreasonable but I have to think about how it would reflect
on me if I walked into a jumper barn in my full-seat breeches and
dress boots, looking for a horse to supple and make dance. At
home I knew the names of all the horses and I knew every horse
that went in and out of that barn. I knew the feed charts and
turnout map by heart. If I show up at a new barn and need to ask
someone to walk with me to get my horse so I don't get lost and I
don't leave a gate open how long will I be called a nuisance?
In Alberta, I knew a few people who could help me to find some
kind of horse to ride, even if it was not my Olympic horse; I had
a support system to rely on when I needed help. In British
Columbia, I have no one to help me find any kind of horse to ride
and no one knows my strengths and weaknesses so anyone I meet
will have to assess my skills before suggesting anything or
anyone. I am worried about my lack of a support system because I
am uncertain as to how to proceed in finding what I need to keep
moving up and improve my training.

Great ways to find horses to ride in unfamiliar territory are
through local organizations such as provincial equestrian groups
like AEF, as well as turning to Equine Canada for help finding
local trainers and barns in your discipline. If you are a freshly
moved university student, find out if your school has an
equestrian club. There are intercollegiate equestrian groups that
allow university equestrian groups to get together and compete on
each other's horses (you don't have to have your own horse to
show on someone else's) and meet, socialize and learn.

There is no easy way to establish yourself in a brand new
equestrian environment but slowly, you can emerge back into it
and find a new comfort zone. Patience will help, as well as hard
work. And don't feel stupid when you walk into the feed room to
get your saddle. 
Winter 2010

Taryn Karstens-Smith is an 18-year-old student of the University
of Victoria, B.C. She has been riding for 12 years and has ridden
dressage for six. She is a member of the UVic Equestrian Teant
competing in their Dressage faction in intercollegiate shows in
BC and Washington State.

To be continued from time to time

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