Bar S ~ A Stable Full of
We moved again, this time to California. I was in 7th grade, and terrified to be thrown into the slashing jaws of a brand new junior high. Thankfully, my understanding mom knew what I would need to make the adjustment, and she quickly helped me find a stable near our new house. Once again, the horse gods seemed to smile upon me as there was an entire equestrian center just blocks away from our new home.
We stopped at a few snobby places who “didn’t need any help, thank you” (at least not from a homely pre-teen, I’m sure they were thinking.) I felt discouraged, but we decided to try one more stable. We pulled onto a dusty driveway leading to a washed out red barn with a few horses tied up in front.
I tentatively approached the barn office, where a nice lady greeted us and listened to my appeal for a place to volunteer with horses. She told me to be there that Saturday at 7 a.m. I didn’t realize it then, but I had just taken the first step toward one of the best experiences of my life.
I could hardly contain my excitement waiting for Saturday to arrive. Fantasies about the horses at this mysterious red barn littered my thoughts and dreams until finally that early Saturday morning was here.
I was introduced to 27 or so horses, who I was to help ready for their day of taking tourists on trail rides through the Griffith Park mountains. Bar S Stables was a barn that rented horses for hourly guided tours, and lucky little 13-year-old me couldn’t wait to get to know each one of these rent horses.
They were all sweet; they had to be in order to endure the many rent riders that would clumsily clamber atop them. I loved on each and every one of them as I slowly began to learn their names and personalities. There were so many of them, even more than the initial 27 because new ones would arrive and others would leave. Each rent horse was so special in his own way, so I will give as many of them as I can remember a line or two here. These patient creatures deserve more than that anyway.
The oldest rent horse when I arrived, Traveler was approaching his early 30s (nursing home status in horse years). He was sweet, old, wise, and patient. His knowing and gentle spirit made him the perfect kids’ horse, and we only put the tiniest and sweetest young riders on him. Traveler taught me an important lesson that I thought I already knew: make sure a horse knows that you’re behind him before you get too close. A nice horseshoe shaped welt formed on my shoulder after I startled Traveler one day. I had forgotten that the old guy couldn’t hear me approaching as well as the other horses could, and he made me pay for surprising him. Point well taken, Traveler. Your sweet wisdom will be missed.