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Why I Love Barn Chores

The daily rhythm of caring for horses can be oddly comforting in an unpredictable world.

By Samantha Johnson | August 9, 2016

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Barn Chores

Okay, I’ll admit it. I love barn chores.

I pretty much love everything about them from the muck boots and the clothing (comfy jeans and an ancient hoodie, anyone?) to the smells (fresh hay and pine shavings) and the sounds (quiet radio, horses chewing). I love the fact that barn chores have purpose and value. I love the fact that barn chores give me a chance to THINK (my best ideas come while cleaning stalls—always).

Here are three things I especially love about barn chores:

They’re Predictable

Sometimes barn chores don’t go according to plan, like when you discover that you’ll need to unexpectedly handle some sudden repair, but generally speaking, barn chores are deliciously predictable. You don’t get to the barn and think "Hey! What do I need to do?” because the things you need to do are the same things you did yesterday, and the day before that, and last week, and last month, and…

There’s something satisfying—even comforting—about having the same set of chores to repeat each day. Sweep aisle, fill water, clean stalls, feed horses, and on and on. It’s like you can count on your chores to always be there, waiting for you.

They’re Precise

I like things to be precise (except when I don’t, but that’s another story) and barn chores require precision in spades. Feed amounts must be carefully measured; medications must be administered at the required intervals (every six hours! Precisely! No more! No less!); eye ointment must be precisely measured (1/8-inch, exactly)—all of these things require attention and care. I like making sure that things are correct and accurate; as a result, I love barn chores.

They’re a Priority

In a crazy world of jam-packed schedules and overcrowded to-do lists that constantly require shuffling in order of importance, it’s nice to have barn chores with their triumphant stamp of PRIORITY. Barn chores are a non-negotiable; they must be done, rain or shine, hot or cold, in sickness and in health, and whether or not you have three thousand other things begging for your attention. "Sorry, to-do list—I have stalls to clean.” It’s uniquely freeing, in a way.

So maybe cleaning stalls isn’t your favorite thing in the world, but what aspects of barn chores do you love? The chance to think? The fragrance of fresh hay? The opportunity to spend time with your horses in a quiet, low-pressure environment? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and the author of several books, including The Field Guide to Horses, (Voyageur Press, 2009). She raises Welsh Mountain Ponies in northern Wisconsin and is a certified horse show judge. Follow her on Twitter: @miraclewelsh.

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