Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

What it eans to work in a stable

May 5, 2010 · 1 Comment

Now for the nuts and bolts of being a stable-hand…it’s not easy, it’s slightly painful, but completely worthwhile. The typical day on the job begins at 630 with my alarm clock. I’m then picked up by Mr. Tibbles at 7 at the Earlham Road bus stop and then on my way to the yard. The trip is normally only 40 minutes, but its morning rush hour so it can take over up to an hour or so. And I must say, I do not like British traffic jams, mostly because every time I’ve been stuck in one I’ve also been in a roundabout. That’s just no fun at all and slightly scary. Once at the yard, the first task of day is feeding the horses. After that comes my least favorite part of the day-skipping out stalls. This means getting a wheelbarrow and pitchfork and scooping horse poop. There’s typically 10 or 11 horses at the yard which means on most days I would be responsible for skipping out anywhere from 5-8 stalls. Once the stall are cleaned, I would have to pull out the horses’ hay nets and refill them. This was somewhat tedious and not good for my allergies. After the stalls had been cleaned and hayed, it was time to exercise the horses. On an average day we would exercise ride 3 to 4 horses each out on the country lanes and then school one or two horses in the ring.
The riding portion of the day was by far the most physically demanding. Each exercise ride through various fields and lanes lasted roughly 40 to 60 minutes and covered roughly 3 to 5 miles. These rides typically started and ended on country lanes and in between consisted of various fields, woods, and streams. The riding in the ring was normally about 30 minutes per horse and dedicated either to jumping workouts or dressage practice. Normally the rides were broken up by lunch. After finishing the rides, I would be responsible for cleaning all the tack while Mr. Tibbles was giving lessons. Let’s just say cleaning anywhere from eight to eleven bridles, saddles and girths in one go is tiring. With the horses exercised and tack cleaned, the only things left are one last skip through the stalls, refilling the hay nets and sweeping up the main aisle.
That’s it for the responsibilities, but normally before we close up the yard there is a visit from the farrier for one or two horses to have their hooves trimmed and shoes fitted. This adds about an hour or two to each day, because Nick, the farrier, is quintessentially East Anglian. He loves a good bit of gossip and a cup or two of tea. Some days vary from the normal pattern and responsibilities such as with farrier visits. Other variations include going with Kelly, a fellow stable-hand, to other neighboring yards and exercising the horses there and at other times include going off the property to help with lessons. Overall, it’s rewarding work. It is tough, demanding and exhausting, but it provides me with the opportunity to keep riding and also to experience a part of East Anglia that not everybody gets to experience.

Categories: Kimberly

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