Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Big Purple Barn and my developing horse obsession

The Big Purple Barn is a magical place where you can get a workout, make friends, and learn how to become completely obsessed with horses all in one go. They're a non-profit horse rescue in Bowie, MD with 15 horses, two chickens, two cats, and one adorable pig currently in residence. I volunteer there at least twice a week if I can manage it, scooping poop, carrying water buckets and hay bales, and brushing, blanketing, hoof picking, and occasionally walking the horses. I've been volunteering there since last summer but had never been around horses prior to that aside from a smattering of trail rides and maybe four lessons total. The lessons were a recent development, since my sister and I both realized we were grown ups now and could do a once-a-month lesson at a barn up in Cecil County. I wanted somewhere I could interact with the horses instead of getting on and off of them and then quickly being shooed from the premises. I had never watched a horse interact with other horses, never been allowed to care for them or observe how they learned new things. I had been on a horse, but I didn't really understand what they were like. I was a weird case of a horse-loving youngster never getting contact with the actual animal until adulthood. (My parents could never afford lessons and were also afraid of us getting destroyed by a horse.) Now adulthood-me can't get enough of it. I tried to deny it for...maybe three months until my husband, J.D. announced that based upon the number of horse article tabs I had open on my laptop and the number of times he heard the word "ponies" in a day I was officially obsessed with them. I figured at that point I'd just go ahead and jump in with both feet. 

This is Aspen and he's perfect. Yes he may be scared of a lot of things that we might think are silly, but that doesn't mean he isn't perfect- it just means he's SUPER aware of EVERYTHING, right Aspen? He also gives me lots of chances to brush him, as his favorite activity is rolling in filth. I like him because he's quiet and needs time to think about everything before he's ok with it. I also feel that way a lot of the time, especially when I'm working through something that is new or that I'm nervous about- such as being around horses! He's also one of the more inquisitive horses in the herd which makes it pretty amusing to work with him. I like leading him around on walks in the ring, but recently our walks have been interrupted by the arrival of Pepper the pig! Her pen is between the barn and the ring, so he has to walk by her in order to get from one place to the other. I've been lucky enough to get tutoring on how to desensitize him to her so he can get back to business-as-usual walks eventually. I'm glad I have the opportunity to learn and also help out!  

One of the other horses, Miles, seems intent on butting in every time I try to go visit Aspen in the field. Aspen of course just walks off when Miles shows up. I'm glad of that, since I don't want to be caught in the middle of a "I told you to get lost" snit but I do sometimes wish I could chill with Aspen for longer before Miles shows up! Haha. I don't think he's doing it for treats, since I rarely bring treats out to the field, and if I seemed to have treats either Harry or Taz would be right there in two seconds. I did go run around with him in the ring when we had a big snow and the snow was really deep. 
Pictured: Me and Miles running around like crazy fools in the deep snow.

Maybe he thinks I'm a fun person to play with? Maybe he just thinks he should be getting the attention instead? In any case, sometimes I still don't know why horses do what they do but I'm learning a lot at The Big Purple Barn!  

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