With the Horse Lady

By Alice Billings

[December 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage]

Today, as I was mucking stalls and paddocks in between rain and snow showers, I got to thinking: “Hey, I’m 73 years old. Where are the young folks who should be doing this, and why are they not here?” This generation of young people—Gen Z (kids born after 2004)—many of them have no work ethic.

I think we can all agree that our culture has changed. Generations no longer live together in one house. Somewhere along the line, the connection has been broken; in some cases, no values have been taught. With single-parent homes, and families where both parents work full time, children often have to fend for themselves.

What I have observed over the years, is that children of ranching families are taught to work hard. They have to, because they have chores and tend to the animals. Sometimes these kids are up and working before they even go to school.

Please don’t get me wrong. Other families instill a work ethic, but many do not; they’re too busy trying to survive themselves.

Part of instilling values to live by, is the reverence for life—all life and all species. Of course, as many who follow my column know, I love horses and have a deep respect for the environment in which they live. And, for that matter, it’s the same environment in which we live. Developing a respect for that life and all that it encompasses is essential for growing up to be a person of “substance.”

And to that end, I want to tell you about the horse workshop we held last weekend with children ages 5 to 14. There were eight kids—and a few extras, who were included. We started the day with a horse meditation, then, they got to hang with the horses and brush them…they even learned to muck a stall! An art lesson in drawing horses followed, first riding bareback and then saddled. Then, we had lunch by the river with the llama—a reference for a beautiful sentient being—the beginnings of developing a partnership with an equine.

Our next workshop is on December 7th, with more to follow as we continue the journey. You are welcome to come along with us.

And, there will always be stalls to muck. So put on your mucking boots and volunteer to work and spend time in the pasture with these beautiful, passionate beings, who have been placed on this earth to help us humans understand life just a little bit more.

Alice Billings, “The Horselady,” is the owner of Thunder Heart Haven/Horse and Human Rescue where she conducts Educational Equine Experiences. Learn more at thunderhearthaven.com.