I usually enjoy my pony chores. It’s a time to check in with each of my friends and observe herd interactions. I also believe that every time I’m with my ponies I have an opportunity for training. Chores especially provide chances for improving ground manners, whether I’m scooping manure, feeding hay or replenishing water or minerals. “No, you can’t push your nose in my pocket. Yes, you will back away before getting your hay.”
Yesterday a friend said she wanted to get down to owning one horse rather than being owned by eight. I can certainly understand her sentiment. Owning a number of equines definitely impacts one’s lifestyle. Significant time, energy, and money go along with having these animals in our lives. Most of the time these things – time, energy, money – seem like limited resources that in turn put limits on the number it’s possible to own.
Last night I was reading Way of the Horse by Linda Kohanov. She was describing the natural progression of things, especially with respect to the creative process. Somewhere between starting and ending there is inevitably a period of incubation, of not doing, to let the thing move from the spark of an idea to a fully formed image that can be executed. Kohanov, rightfully so, observes that this incubation phase is rarely valued though it is highly necessary to the creative process, whether it’s making a meal, writing a story, or bringing forth new life (the period between conception and giving birth is of course a form of incubation).
Kohanov observed that ‘barn time’ often serves as an incubation period for the things in her life. I know what she means. My chore time often bears fruit in unexpected ways. I progress writing projects, solve business problems, or have insights into complex situations that sitting still rarely affords me. I’ve never been attracted to the silent- sitting-still-type of meditation, but I often think of chore time as walking meditation.
In the last issue of Savvy Times, Linda Parelli wrote an article about a hard decision she had made recently. She had had to give up some chore time to get other things done. I’ve been told I should consider something similar to get more time for “important” things like training or managing employees or sleep. Linda shared in her article her angst about letting go of the feeding, watering, grooming, and conditioning tasks that she felt were a necessary part of her horse ownership. I can definitely relate to that angst. Like Linda I would find it hard to believe that anyone could care for my beloved friends as well as I do. Linda proved in her article that that part at least can be resolved in an acceptable fashion. I would still feel angst, though, from loss of my walking meditation.
Last night I was doing chores with my husband’s grandson. I shared with him that chores are definitely a walk for me. I’ve calculated that I put in two miles a day on average. Yes, it keeps me physically fit, but it also helps me mentally; it is my incubation time. Losing any chore time, whether by reducing my herd or hiring help, would also mean losing that valuable time between spark and manifestation. It would be a loss I would have to carefully consider. So on days like today when the high won’t go above zero, I try to keep Mary Ann Kennedy’s song ‘Cleaning Stalls’ in mind:
“It’s kinda like a meditation
Sorta like yoga, it’s my religion
I get in a trance-like state
As I pitch and as I rake…
All of life’s problems seem so small …
when I’m cleanin’ stalls.”