Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Originally published in Horse Directory,  July 2015

By Tom Gumbrecht

I’ll be 62 this month. For some, that means thoughts of retirement, but for me, being self-employed, not so much. I enjoy my work anyway. Still, it has fostered thoughts of what life will be like when the aging process continues it's slow erosion of a body whose work and recreation have been of the physical kind. I've been lucky in that regard, so far.

Sometimes the physical demands of horsekeeping
can be great.
Keeping horses is a physical endeavor, and each year the demands are a little greater, no doubt exacerbated by the harsher winters we seem to have been experiencing. The winter chores are the most difficult, and can seem at times to be an un-winnable battle.

The prospect of one day being on a fixed income brings other concerns about sustaining a horsey lifestyle. Even owning the facilities and doing all of the work ourselves, it's still a significant expense. We've moved on from competing regularly and although we still train, it's for the continual development of horse and rider rather than the clear goals of competition. We do take the horses to the park for trail rides as time and weather permit, but it seems that most of what we do consists of horse care and farm maintenance.

That's the side of the story as might be told by a financial planner, but as we all know, there's more to it than that, and another kind of cost/ benefit analysis:

 I have a reason to wake up early each day. The first hour of every day is spent in a tranquil environment where I am gently but enthusiastically greeted by soft nickers and soft eyes that say “welcome.”

It's said that there is much peace to be found in organization and routine, and that may be part of the reason that I feel so peaceful in the barn. It is one area of my life that is well organized and the routine is familiar.

Much is said about the benefits of living life from the point of view of gratitude; it's kind of the latest pop-psych buzzword. Our barn is a world filled with mutual gratitude that is clearly expressed when I take the
The author, Samantha and DannyBoy introduce
grandbaby Daniel to the world of horses
time to listen. Intentions are clear, and there are no hidden agendas. Actions are the main tools of communication and words are unnecessary. The is no ambiguity here. What you see is what you get. Relationships are easy when you always know where you stand.

I was able to uncover a hidden passion for horses that transcended riding, not to downplay that part. But I discovered within me certain qualities, a patience, a teach-ability if you will, and the willingness to care for ill and injured horses. When a human is sick or injured, my immediate reaction is to call someone equipped to handle it, and take the role of support staff. When an animal is injured, my reaction us to jump in immediately, do what I can, and call for help later if needed. Are my priorities misplaced? I don't know. Theses are qualities that have surfaced that I seem to have been born with, so I attempt to make the most of them.

It's a nice thing to start and end each day with the feeling of accomplishment of clear needs squarely met. It helps to balance the frustrations that daily life and business can sometimes bring. People make extensive plans to attend spiritual retreats in order to connect more closely with a Higher Power, God, the Great Spirit, the Universe or whatever name we wish to give a power greater than ourselves. I have the privilege of living such a retreat daily, at least for a few hours.

Those are some of the line items on my cost/ benefit analysis, understood fully by those fluent in the language of the heart that is spoken in the barn.

Knowing that the horses are securely tucked
in gives a warm feeling.


  1. This is not so much an essay as it is a poem, a prayer. I can add no words to further or deepen its meaning. You've said it all - and well!