Look, I might have gotten (slightly) taller, a lot older, and perhaps a little squishier around the middle. But in my heart of hearts, I’m still a barn rat—through and through.
And while there are plenty of parts of growing up that stink (I’m looking at you, laundry and dishes), there are a lot of things that adult you can do that little kid you only thought of in your wildest dreams.
1. You don’t have to beg for a ride
I’m not just talking about a horse here, although maybe you achieved the biggest barn rat dream ever and finally got your own unicorn. I’m talking about the most important ride of all; a set of wheels. No more begging your parents or promising you’ll do your older brother’s chores for a week if he’ll just give you a ride out to the barn. Want to get to the barn at five am and stay all day? There’s no one to tell you no. Except maybe your boss or your significant other.
2. You’re free to do the coveted “swing by”
How often did you wish, as a young rat, that you could just swing by the barn, just for a second, to tell your horse good night, or good morning, or even just stare at him dreamily while he ate hay? Well, now you can stop by the barn whenever you want, there’s no one to stop you! Just remember that one thing hasn’t changed since you were a kid: 15 minutes at the barn somehow turns into forty-five minutes or an hour. Every. Single. Time.
3. Absolute travel freedom
Want to go to every clinic, show and gathering within a two-hundred-mile radius? You can do that now! You can travel every weekend if your heart desires (and your checkbook allows). No more missing that big show because you have to go to Great-Aunt Josephine’s 80th birthday or because you’re forced to go to your little sister’s soccer tournament on Saturday. (Sorry, Aunt Josephine.) The world is your round bale now—reach out and grab a chunk!
4. Tack and a pony to match
Do you love purple? Do you want everything you own to be purple? Then you go do that. You rock those matching wraps/pad/ear bonnet/saddle fringes/etc. Wear it all loud and proud, because that’s what makes you happy and, darn it, you deserve it. Maybe your tastes have changed over the years from wishing you had a grey horse with a black mane and some awesome sparkly pink hoofs with a golden saddle (not that I’m saying this was totally my dream or anything) to a nicely groomed bay with a tasteful, yet elegant bridle that perfectly matches your saddle. That’s just fine. Because whatever you want, you now have the freedom to dress yourself and your horse as ridiculous (or as not ridiculous) as you please.
5. You can practically live at the barn
Barring any adult responsibilities getting in the way (which they do, unfortunately—all the time), you can spend hours at the barn. Days even. Heck, you might get some questions from your family and odd looks from strangers but you could literally live in a barn if you wanted to, just like you always dreamed! And if you’re anything like me, the days that I get to spend an entire Saturday at the barn as an adult mean so much more to me than they did as a kid. That time is something I don’t take for granted anymore. Especially when it’s a Saturday spent at the barn that isn’t related to some sort of emergency vet visit.
6. Your time is work free
So, you might work at your barn in exchange for your board or lessons—a lot of us work our tushies off to afford such an expensive sport. But even if you do, at least you know you what you’re getting in return. As a young barn rat, the chances that you were spotted and roped into helping with a summer camp or a kids’ group lesson was probably pretty high. As an adult rat, you can enjoy your time, knowing that it is your time. And if someone asks you to wrangle ten cranky lesson ponies now, you can just look at your watch and mumble some vague adult excuse like you have to go “run some errands.”
7. Choose your discipline
Maybe you had the freedom as a kid to check out different horse sports. But a lot of kids out there were stuck with whatever the barn nearest them offered, or whatever type of lessons their parents paid for. Maybe you always dreamt about running barrels, or soaring over jumps and swore someday you’d do it. Well, that someday is now.
As an adult, you can explore any and every horse activity you’ve ever heard of. Take a shot at mounted archery (get it? Take a shot?). Learn to joust. Or maybe you just want to groom and brush and stare lovingly at your horse for hours. The great thing about horses is how many different ways there are to enjoy being around them. And even better than that, there’s no single right way. So get out there and figure out what makes you happy. After all, isn’t that what this is all about?
8. Fellow Adult Barn Rats
The barn is fun as an adult, but there’s something seriously awesome about having other horse-crazy adults to experience it with you (and by that I mean the fun kind of crazy, not the, y’know, crazy crazy. You know what I’m talking about). As a young barn rat, you probably had a troupe of other kids hanging out with you, riding and laughing and falling off all over the place. As an adult, you still have those friends, only there’s probably less falling off, and you can connect on a deeper level, riding and talking about kids, your crappy day at work, how you’re ready to kill your spouse if they leave a wet towel on the floor one more time. All the things kids just don’t understand. And best of all, you can share one thing with other adults that you definitely couldn’t as a wee child. Booze!
I’m sure there’s a dozen other ways I’ve missed here. But the point is, while you might pine for the carefree days of your youth, don’t forget that there’s plenty of awesomeness to be had as an adult barn rat as well. It might come with more responsibility (and more errands), but it also comes with a sense of freedom that we often don’t consider.
So with that, get out there and enjoy your adult self!
About the Author
When Aubrey Moore isn’t riding her horse Flynn or doing near-constant maintenance on her truck, she can be found with a glass of wine in hand, chatting happily with her cat Frankie.