A lot of stuff happened this weekend.
First, there was the show of course. It was fantastic. I’ll tell you all about it with pictures and video tomorrow, but that’s not the topic of my post today.
Then on Sunday evening, a tornado ripped through the barn where Simon and Roman live. All the horses, people and even the barn cats got through the storm in one piece. We had a few of the pasture board horses with some scrapes, but nothing that merited more than basic wound care. No one would ever call me a holy roller, but it was nothing short of miraculous.
We woke up Sunday morning with a short message on our barn’s Facebook group saying that a tornado had come through in the night, sheds and fencing around the property were gone and “it was a mess.” I drove to the barn with a deep pit in my stomach, because no one had really said anything about the horses. On my drive out, I passed giant trees snapped in half and trailers missing roofs.
When I got to the barn, I ran straight to Simon who nickered to me like he always does from his stall. He was completely unfazed, and ready to go outside. Roman I was more worried about. He’s been living outside (budget cuts) and has been in a temporary pen in between the three barns on the property. I walked out to see him, and saw giant sheets of tin all around his pen. Roman walked over to greet me and happily munched on the treats I offered while I looked over his legs. His legs were as tight as they always are, and there wasn’t a scratch on him. I scratched his neck and told him we were lucky.
Later my trainer’s husband told me that he pulled one of the huge pieces of metal out of Roman’s pen before I got there. Something from the hay barn had blown into his area during the storm. So yes, we were really lucky.
In the middle of horse shows and tornadoes, I saw something on social media that made me sad — an all out passive aggressive social media fight between bloggers. People I know. People I respect. People who are both excellent horseman in their own right.
Monday morning after the tornado, people headed to the barn in droves. Some took off work. Some called in their significant others, others brought their husbands. Some promised help when they could get off of work later, and stayed tuned for updates as carefully as someone would wait for test results from a hospital.
At the barn, there wasn’t a sense of panic or hopelessness or even loss. It was very much a regimented, “What is next to fix?” We walked through mud and puddles until our feet sloshed around in our boots. We stacked broken boards, pulled metal sheets into piles and heaved together to pick logs off of fence lines. We turned out horses, cleaned stalls and swept the barn aisle so even if the entire property was a mess we could at least call something clean and finished.
All of this work happened with a wide variety of folks. Republicans and democrats, jumpers and hunters (which let’s be honest — can be almost as divided as our political system). People in their twenties and people in their sixties helped. I helped tie off a section of rubble to horses owned by some people who good lawdy sure did cause some drama with a trainer I consider a friend. I stripped stripped the stall of a horse who’s owner I drink with often just as I dumped loads of shavings into the stall of an owner who likes to talk down my beloved nerd horse. Plus let’s be honest – I’m sure I’ve annoyed half the people working out there Monday morning or unintentionally insulted their horse or somehow put my foot in my mouth because lord knows I’m not god’s gift to the equestrian world in any way.
There is no right or wrong in a crisis, just action.
I have so many faults. I’ll raise my hand and be the first to tell you that I’ve written more than one post here in the past where I was trying to prove a point to someone else, but there’s no righteousness in that kind of behavior. Horse people are not always going to get along. There are plenty of times I don’t approve of how someone treats their horse, I don’t think their training choices will lead to good results or quite frankly I don’t like them as a person. That’s never going to change, but why do we feel the need to tear each other down? These days, I don’t understand that much.
We need to remember that those in our community are in that community because of heart. We all have a heart for these creatures and this sport. Instead of trying to be right all the time, I’ve found that it’s oftentimes a lot easier to be. I’m not convinced it’s easier to slam someone down than it is to boost them up. In fact, it’s a lot easier to say, “I hope that works for you” or even simply, “I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t agree.”
This is a hard lifestyle, and it’s full of heart break. Sometimes that heartbreak is your star jumper stepping on a nail and facing maybe going from 1.20 meter horse to a pasture ornament. Sometimes it’s a bad horse show. Sometimes it’s a tornado.
Roll up your sleeves. Step in the mud. Support one another. We need our fellow horse people, both in our barn and across the country.