Sunday, July 31, 2016

First Day After Day One!

Thank you so much for all your messages of encouragement and support - they are more appreciated than you'll know!

To be honest, I coped better than I thought I would yesterday, my first day of work as stable hand! To be sure, I wasn't as quick as I should be, but that will come with time, practice and fitness!

Yesterday, I helped out with mucking out and refilling bedding, mixing feed, vacuuming the barn's interior passages (the barn vac is almost a meter wide, like operating a large, heavy lawn-mower, which is a work-out on its own - but better than sweeping the whole barn the old-fashioned way!), training on operating the automatic horse-walker, taking horses out to paddocks for a few hours of grazing and sunshine, and bringing them back in (awesome - so quiet out there, such great company, such wonderful scenery!), and I got to groom one horse top-to-toe (which is saying something, because I think he's about 17hh - this was the best part of the day!).

I think my arms and shoulders are conditioned enough from using my camera equipment, to cope with a lot of the lifting, and the grooming which is very upper-body intensive (besides the tippy-toe action when I try to reach the high end of his neck and his face, which he thought was funny to hold up high!). My main pains, today, are from stiffness around my ribs and waist, that is courtesy of mucking out. Got to get it figured out so that I'm not bending and twisting so much, but rather just swinging my arms!

At the end of the day yesterday, before the aching muscles (such as they are) kicked in, my feet were the major source of discomfort. Ok, the soles were on fire! I wore an old, sad pair of hiking boots, and they just didn't cut it for a full day spent on my feet. So a trip to the shop for a pair of Blundstones with gel inserts is in my future! Happily, the feet are none the worse for wear, and are feeling fine this morning!

I went for a walk this morning, and everything loosened up nicely. But after about 5 minutes of sitting down, stiffened up again. Not quite as bad as it was earlier, though. We shall see what tomorrow brings - the second day after exertion is usually the worst!

Oh yes, I do have permission to take photos, so those will be forthcoming in due course! I get an hour's lunch break so, once I'm more settled, I should easily be able to fit in some shooting! No doubt there will be sunrise and sunset sessions at some point, too!  :D

I have four more days in my office job, the last being Friday, and start in earnest at the yard on Sunday. I suppose a three-day series for my first "full week" will be better than four days all at once! My regular schedule will be Saturday through Tuesday.

Until next time ...
Keep your weight in your heels!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Exciting : Exiting The Rat Race

I anguished over the title I would use for this piece. As I write, there are already three versions, and will no doubt have more added by the time I finish this blog post today! What am I wanting to convey to you, the reader ... excitement, anticipation, apprehension, disbelief?

A few weeks ago, an opportunity revealed itself to me on Facebook ... and I was surprised to find myself seriously considering it! After a brief deliberation with me and myself, I applied for the position, was invited for an interview, and got offered the job! I could hardly believe it, though I knew I'd have been crushed if I hadn't landed it.

This was rapidly followed by the agonizing over whether I/we could afford for me to make this change, and wondering if I'm up to the physical challenge of it!

Long story short, I'm stepping out from behind a desk and computer, where I've worked for the past 25+ years! I have accepted a post as Stable Hand at a high-end equestrian facility in the Pemberton Meadows. Yes, that means mucking stables, grooming horses, feeding horses, cleaning tack, and a hundred other functions that go into the smooth and efficient running of a horse yard. Sounds like heaven to me!

I'll tell you more about the place itself a bit later ... once I know if I'm permitted to take photographs on the property. For now, suffice to say that for a horse-lover with a passion for dressage, this place is heaven-on-earth!

Since accepting the new position and wrapping up my current commitment (I still have four more office work days), I've asked several questions of myself. Mostly they're of the rhetorical variety like "What were you thinking?!", along with "You're too old for this!", "You're WAY too out-of-shape for this!", etc.

But then I realise that my new employers are quite aware of my age (after all, I pointed it out during my interview, just in case they missed my more-salt-than-pepper hair), and there's definitely no hiding my physical unfitness.

They must be counting on my previous experience, ancient history as it is, in working with horses to carry me through. After all, caring for horses can't have changed all THAT much in the past couple of decades, can it? The concepts are the same, but from what I've seen of this beautiful facility, I'm going to be learning a great deal about new techniques and equipment, too!

For example, the equipment in the last yard I worked at consisted of gloves, wellies, brooms, brushes, rags, sponges, and muscles. The only electric equipment was lighting - if we were lucky! This yard features a vacuum (instead of sweeping), an automatic horse walker (granted, monitored by staff at all times when in use), an atv to carry away the used bedding (no wheelbarrows here!), and keypad security on access gates and storeroom doors, among other things!

Despite all these newfangled gadgets, I am anticipating physical agony for the first couple of weeks, as this sedentary body gets hammered back into shape by the exertion required. Maybe I should have "before" and "after" photos taken!  :P

Now, the last thing to do ... post this article before I start my first day on the job, so that I am not tempted to make adjustments after the fact!

Watch this space to see how I fared on my first orientation/training day - tomorrow!

Keep your weight in your heels!

PS: No, there won't be any riding opportunities that I know of. That said, since being involved more closely with horses again since I started taking photos at local competitions, I have started feeling the urge. But that story will have to wait for another day ...