We all have that friend from the barn, the one you don’t see anywhere else.
You’re excited to see them. You ride with them. You talk horses and theories with them. School, futures—you are there for each other. But, for whatever reason, you don’t talk outside of the barn. It’s a bond forged on the farm that belongs to the farm and it never goes away—even if you change barns, change futures.
I come from a barn where I’ve always been the youngest. I love our barn family. The boarders are supportive and full of wisdom—they’re always there for me.
Last year, I went away to school and new boarders moved in. I was no longer the youngest when I’d come home on the weekends and ride my horse. One weekend I remember vividly because I was feeling depressed. I was at the barn and a boarder I hadn’t met was riding her horse.
I walked up to her, probably looking mad, and asked “Are you done riding?”
“Do you want to go for a trail ride?”
She said, “Yes!” excitedly and we went out and tore up the trails—it was the perfect start to a new friendship. I wasn’t even sure what her name was because we’d never officially been introduced.
I eventually left school—it wasn’t the place for me. Back at home, my barn friend and I saw each other more regularly. We were close even though we didn’t see each other frequently. We talked training, things that bugged us in the horse world, boys. Our friendship resided in the barn.
Then one week everything changed.
My friend received the devastating news that she would have to put down her lifelong friend. The horse that was her everything.
I wanted to be there for her when she had to say goodbye, but it’s not something that’s easy to just ask. Maybe they’d want it to be family-only thing? Maybe she had all the support she needed? Losing a family member is hard enough without people watching you cry.
A few days later, I went to the barn to take care of my horse she was there, too. It was The Day. I said my goodbyes early in the morning and didn’t expect to be there with her as she said hers, but everything happens for a reason.
For a while, she was holding it together better than I was. I just stood with her. We talked about everything, memories she had with him, school, people, future. And we were also quiet. We hugged and patted her horse. We hugged each other.
Eventually her parents came down and joined us—it was a short two hours. We all cried, we said our goodbyes and they went home.
I stayed longer, I watched the rest. It was heart wrenching to see them load his body. He was gone. I did my chores and called it a night.
My barn friend doesn’t know what she will do with her time anymore. Nothing of hers is at the barn. But I hope that one day she will be back, maybe when it hurts a little less.
I’m once again the youngest at the barn…
About the Author
Jacqui Baer has been riding since she was eight and training since 16. She competed in the 2015 and 2016 Extreme Mustang Makeover placing in the top 10 in 2016 with her mare Recklesss Redemption (aka Rae). She just bought her fisrt horse in the begining of September 2016, another mustang. #demandthebrand