Muck out your mind

Mucking out stalls is 10% cleaning, 10% talking to your horse and 80% making life decisions.”


Last week we started to bring all three horses into the barn to help keep one another warm at night, as the temperatures started to drop close to 0 degrees Celsius, and there was a week of cold rain overnight to go along with it.

Little did I know, having not had 3 horses in stalls every night, how much it would change the morning routine. It starts around 6:30 am when we head to the barn to feed and turnout the horses. After their quick breakfast – comprised of Timothy pellets and supplements – they’re turned out for the day. Winston goes into the grass paddock and waits for his new friend Ally to be turned out. Drummer & Teddy (begrudgingly) are turned out into a dry paddock with hay. They’re “easy keepers” a name I don’t entirely agree with – seeing as it would be “easier” if I didn’t have to worry about how much hay/grass they eat!

Then it’s time to start mucking. Two of the three stalls don’t have overhead lights, which means I’ve got to wear a headlamp to help see well enough to clean. The other day I was curious as it felt like hours (haha) of work, so I decided to time the process, start to finish (meaning hay bags refilled) and it took just over an hour.

Now, of course I’ve mucked stalls, and the paddocks too – but the horses that I cared for were almost always outside, as they had a nice run in shelter beneath the barn to keep them warmer on cold nights, and was large enough for all of them to huddle together. I know one day I hope to keep our herd this way as well, but until then, the plan for winter is to bring them in, which means a lot of hours of mucking to come.

As I was shovelling away the other morning, I started to think, as one does when engaging in an activity that allows for the mind to wander, about how the action of cleaning a stall, and dumping out the contents into a pile outside, is meditative in a way, and how, I wonder, if I could find the sh***ty thoughts the way I find the actual little mounds with my rake – I could dump them as well.

In my WISE Course I took last year, there was a space in the Boss Mare Journal for “what’s in your tack room” which is like a brain dump – writing everything down, good, bad and otherwise that you need, so that you can sort through it and keep the helpful thoughts, letting go of the ones that are just cluttering our mind. The idea of a tack room is neat – and – I could see how the cleaning a stall analogy could work as well, having clients take a few moments to practice the “mucking of the mind” before a session so that the thoughts can be identified, collected and, well, for lack of another word – DUMPED!

If this idea resonates with you – try it out and let me know what you think!

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