Early early this morning while I was still snuggled in my bed, our second child flew the coop. All day she’s been driving north to Massachusetts and her new job as a student worker at a dressage barn—

Let me back up.

At the end of last semester, she signed up on some sort of horse-related message board thingy where people looking for jobs post their information and people looking for workers post openings. She got a handful of queries from farms in Texas, South Carolina, Kentucky, etc, but nothing came of them.  

And then she got a query from a farm in Massachusetts. She responded, they responded, and within a couple weeks she’d had three phone interviews and gotten the job.

She was over the moon.

The place sounded pretty incredible — put-together and professional — so the first week of January, she, my husband, and I headed up to see the place for ourselves. 

It was our first road trip since the pandemic and it felt disconcerting, like we were doing something illegal and dangerous. At one point, we passed two hearses, a bunch of ambulances, and a huge tank of nitrogen with steam billowing out of the ice-covered pipe at the top and suddenly I had the eerie sensation that I’d been plopped into the middle of a dystopian novel in which we were fleeing north to Canada in the midst of a pandemic, can you imagine? Uh, yes, actually. I sort of can. (And then the next day on our drive home, there was the insurrection at the capitol which only intensified the otherworldly feeling.)

We arrived at the farm at dusk. An assistant trainer gave us a tour of the facilities, and then we hung out at one end of the arena and watched the various riding lessons. Since the trainers and clients were miked, the whole place was weirdly quiet, just the muffled sound of horses’ hooves and the gentle murmur of conversation.  

She’ll work six days a week caring for clients’ horses: medicating, feeding, and exercising them, as well as taking them back and forth to their paddocks (they said she’ll end up walking about twelve miles daily). As a student worker, she’s assigned to work for one of the trainers: she’ll warm up client horses for him pre-lessons, and do other horse-related tasks that go with that (I know nothing).

In exchange, she gets room and board (she’ll be staying in the farm owner’s home), a monthly stipend, and dressage training — because she doesn’t have a horse of her own, she’ll be training with one of the owner’s horses, which she got to meet.

The job is everything my daughter could wish for, and then some. By the time we wandered out of the barn and into the cold dark of early evening, she was practically vibrating with excitement. 

And then we drove home and the countdown for her move date began. Almost within minutes of learning she’d gotten the job, she’d started packing, and now she began gearing up to move out in earnest.

She leased Ellie to a family that we know through church. Our younger son is buying her chickens and goats from her, as well as taking over her job as barn manager at the neighboring farm and moving into her vacated room (he’s overjoyed). She made granola to take along (never mind that they provide all her food — she wants her granola) and bought some more winter clothes. She got her Covid test. My husband fixed up the beater car (it needed a new clutch, inspection, new tires, etc), and then she backed it right up to the foot of the porch steps, ready to load up and fly north.  

I’m sad to see her go, of course — and her departure hit my husband particularly hard —  but, for me, at least, that sadness is far outweighed by my happiness and excitement at seeing her land her dream job. 

I can’t wait to hear her stories.


P.S. Mid-afternoon, she texted that she’d arrived safely — huge exhale — and this evening we exchanged photos of our suppers and then she facetimed me from her cozy nest of a bed. Let the fun begin!

This same time, years previous: perfect pita, vindication, women’s march on Washington, through my lens: a wedding, the quotidian (1.27.14), and then we moved into a barn, shoofly cake.


  • Susan

    So exciting! I’m here in MA and … brrr … we’ve got an especially nippy day today. I promise, it’s not usually this cold (not sure why I feel like I have to apologize for the weather, haha!). Good for her! Depending on what part of the state she’s is, it’d be fun to give some recommendations of fun things to do/see.

  • Lissa

    Such fabulous news for you and your daughter and just the best that it’s her dream come true. With so much loss and devastation this year, hearing about your #2 just gave me the warm fuzzies in my heart. She’ll learn to say that things are “wicked good” 🙂

  • Lisa Sale

    I can’t believe I’m tearing up after reading your post today. For a young woman and her family, whom I only know through reading your blog, I am filled with happiness for all of you!

  • K

    I laughed at the “quiet” comment. My daughter rides dressage and they use the earpieces where she rides. Everything is hushed like being in a library. I grew up riding in a hunter barn in the 70s/80s (i.e. no such technology) and not only did my trainer yell, but she did it into a bullhorn.

  • Jane Shumway

    I am going to be living vicariously through her!!! What an INCREDIBLE opportunity for her!! Truly a dream come true!!! And she is such a sweetheart and has such a passion for horses and dressage!!! What an amazing, challenging, learning, growing, and FABULOUS experience for her!!!

  • Lois Kauffman

    Good for her! What a beautiful barn, farmhouse and area for her new adventure! And you and John for raising skilled and responsible people!!

  • Becky R.

    How exciting! I am over the moon for her, and she looks so happy. Give us stories, Jennifer, and I wish her all the very best. I know y’all will miss her.

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