Thanks to insane traffic, our nine-hour drive to Framingham stretched to nearly twelve, so it was dusk when we arrived at our daughter’s house, a small cottage directly beside the farm. She stepped out the door and we both immediately burst into tears and hugged and hugged and hugged. Four-plus months in a completely new place is a pretty long time to go without seeing family and friends, and it’s the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing one of my children.
She gave us a tour of the farm then, introducing us to each of the horses (she knows them all by name, like they’re people), showing us the Big-Ass fans in the arena and opening the garage door-like windows. In the feed room, she explained the feed charts (I understood not a word), and turned on the heating lights so we could stand under them.
We left then for our hotel in Framingham so she could get to bed (she had to be at work at 5:30 the following morning), and then came back first thing the next day to watch her riding lesson.
When training, the horses wear ear protection to muffle noise and help them focus.
Here are two little videos from a recent lesson (not the one we watched, but with the same instructor). I find the instructor to be as interesting as my daughter’s riding. She cracks me up!
Her instructors kept asking us if we could see her improvement and we were like, Um, yeah? I mean, it seemed like she’s working hard and the horse’s feet keep doing weird things, but really, we had no idea what we were seeing.
(Tell me again how an equestrian was birthed from my body?)
Still, it was fun to just be in the space where she spends her days, watching her tack up and hose off her horse (and then towel dry him!), and put the little booties on their feet, and lunge them in the hot walker arena.
where she stores her gear
In the round pen inside the hot walker.
We walked with her when she walked down to the paddocks to turn out a horse. As soon as she released him, he went nuts, bucking and kicking and riling up the other horses and so, naturally, my daughter went in to be WITH him.
She grabbed his halter and clucked and purred at him, and calmly — no, nonchalantly — held her ground until he settled.
I never wrote about it here, but a couple months ago a horse rolled on my daughter. She called to tell me (actually, she texted me a photo of a saddled horse with the caption “another one bites the dust” and then I, panicked, called her) and I asked, “Are you alright?” and she said, “Yeah, I got back on and he’s not even limping or anything” to which I roared, “I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE FREAKING HORSE, I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU.” Later she sent us the footage from the arena security cameras: my daughter cantering smoothly and then the horse gliding forward and down, rolling to the right and then coming back up and standing there, and my daughter popping up and going to the horse. The whole thing took all of two seconds, maybe three. It was graceful. Elegant, almost. She was fine — just a purple egg on her leg (thank goodness he hadn’t rolled on her knee) that changed color rather prettily over the next few weeks.
So this is why, when I see my daughter handling horses like a boss, I’m impressed.
While my daughter did her horsely duties, my husband and I strolled through the state forest trails at the back of the property, and then took the kids into town to get lunch at Waverly Market, an Italian deli that’s nearly a hundred years old: the 99-year-old grandma was behind the cash register; the son made our subs and prepared our cappuccinos with exceptional focus and care; the granddaughter helped us figure out what we wanted to eat. We split a couple subs and tried the cannolis (I was surprised to find that I didn’t really care for them).
Back at the farm, my husband worked on my daughter’s car, the kids played with the farm dogs, and I read on the porch while, at the other end of the porch, a group of women met with a therapist about managing fear and anxiety about riding.
My daughter’s work completed, she quickly packed her stuff and then we all piled into the van and headed north on the next leg of the journey.