Seija Samoylenko is a young rider from Boston, Massachusetts. She enjoys competing her mare, (the) Black Russian, and homebred, Forte EDF in Areas I, II and III. For more about Seija, follow her on Instagram @seijasameq and check out her new website: www.seijasam.com.
The joke around horses is that the time you spend “riding” is largely spent out of the saddle. Everything that has to happen to ride is what takes the real time: grooming, tacking, cleaning tack, etc. Non-horse people don’t understand this. To them, these tasks could be done quicker or, worse, not at all.
Lately I have realized that it is not just the unenlightened that see these tasks as somewhat superfluous —it is even some people who work with horses every day. I’m not saying that they do not want to care for their horses; what they don’t seem to focus on is the details. If you get the big things done, shouldn’t you have permission to cut out those tasks that seem almost unnecessary?
Why check the horses’ feet when we know they have pads and nothing can get in? Answer: To see if the horse has all its shoes. Why wait for the legs to be dry before you wrap them? To ensure that you’re not creating an environment for skin bacteria to flourish.
Why wash a bit when it’s just doing to get dirty again tomorrow? Same reason you brush your teeth. Why hook up the chin strap of the halter when you only have to walk 50 meters? To keep the swinging buckle from potentially injuring your horse’s eye, or to be sure he has a secure halter if he gets loose.
Many of us “cut corners” if you think about it.
It’s those of us that work with horses daily who are tempted to skimp on these little tasks. I know these extra seconds add up when you’re in a hurry. Am I perfect? No. I’m horrible about keeping the manes pulled in the winter. Sometimes I only wash the bit and not the entire bridle after I ride. But if I cut a corner, I try my best to not cut it again tomorrow.
The problem is many of these details are so small that they go unnoticed. And when you point them out you are often met with blank stares. Who cares whether pitch forks are hung properly? Who cares if the aisle is swept under the tack trunks every day? Who cares if the blankets are tidy when folded?
Maybe I haven’t convinced you, so here is what George Morris says: “Love means attention. Which means looking after the things we love. We call this stable management.”