Horse Feathers !

It’s day 7 of the Professional Horseman’s Course, and our “mini” internships have begun. Each of us has a one-week rotation in the various other barns and departments “on Park.” It’s a chance to get to know the other breeds, network with other professionals learn as much as possible about how things work, and, of course, work my butt off.

This week, I’m assigned to the Draft Horse Barn from 8am to 10am. Also known as the “big barn,” it houses all of the large draft horses who supply the power for the trolley and carriage tours throughout the Park. It’s similar to the barn where we have lectures and take care of about 35 assorted breeds of horses, except everything is MUCH bigger. The wide center aisle is lined with antique carriages and they have a heated wash stall to keep the horses spotless, clean and shiny.

The past two days, I’ve mucked out stalls, filled water buckets, helped to harness and hook up a pair of Clydesdales, took a short trolley tour in the nearly deserted Park, groomed a Shire horse, medicated a Belgian draft horse, and today, I spent about an hour washing, soaping, scrubbing and carefully rinsing the white “feathers” on a pair of Shires. (Feathers are those thick, fluffy hairs you see above the hooves of Clydesdales.)

I’m learning to ask questions if I don’t understand exactly what’s expected, and find it easy to admit my ignorance about parts of the job that are new to me. Those are just two examples of a new attitude I’ve been cultivating. It’s constant, physical work (5 gallons buckets of water are heavy!) but I’m happy to report that I can keep up with the 20-somethings nearby, and, as silly as it might sound, I’m grateful to have it.

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