Top 10 Reasons to Work on a Thoroughbred Stud

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To my friends and family I am the horse addicted girl who lives, breathes, and sleeps horses. I never grew up with them but ever since I can remember, horses were on my brain and in my heart. After graduating, I got into the Summerhill Stud School of Management Excellence and went on to win a Scholarship to the English National Stud in the UK. After all my studies, I had been given the most amazing opportunity to complete a breeding and sales season at the Sir Patrick’s Cambridge Stud in New Zealand.  I then decided to come back to home roots and do a season in South Africa at the beautiful Highlands Stud in Robertson, which ended up being an entire year.

Since my travelling soul and yearning to learn constantly tug at my heart, I will be packing my bags and heading to America for their next season.
Today, I wanted to share with the world the reason I cannot wait to get up in the morning before the birds in below freezing temperatures, the reason my heart skips a beat when I hear the sweet nicker of a horse greeting you as you walk in the yard. All the reasons I don’t call this my job but my hobby.
10. I GET TO WATCH THE SUNRISE, EVERY MORNING!
Some people have “watch the sunrise” on their bucket lists, as if it is a rare phenomenon. I count myself lucky that I have seen the beauty of the sun rise over a new day more times than I can count. That is not all though, we get to go through the storm and see the rainbow at the end. I have never experienced rain like I did in my New Zealand season, after you have done a season there you are definitely water proof. Rain and mud just became a part of life really; It felt odd when the sun eventually shone. New Zealand brought a bunch of firsts for me, namely foaling outside. It was a cold and wet experience but most of all, the most memorable. Nothing brings you closer than huddling together in the cold waiting for a mare to foal.

 

9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ROUTINE
Horses always have something new to throw at you. This is definitely not a typical 9 to 5 job. This is a ‘wake up before the birds and go home when the job is done’ kind of job. I remember during the season in New Zealand, it was my night to be on call. We had just finished for the day and were on our way home when the night guard called myself and the team back to the paddocks because a mare was about to foal. We waited for her to foal, and while she was foaling, another mare decided to foal. We had three mares foal one after the other after work that day. We only went home somewhere past seven o’clock that evening.
8. ALWAYS LEARNING NEW SKILLS
This is the kind of job where you cannot learn everything in a classroom or lecture hall to prepare you for real life. Every day you learn something new, everyday you learn a new skill such as driving a tractor, or working a blood machine, operating machinery like walkers and so on. I also have to add that you will gain major driving skills with this job. I can now drive anything from a truck to a van, a four-wheeler to a tractor. Not only are your skills tested with different types of farm vehicles dating back to the early nineties but the weather surely helps you master your skills as well. You can only drive once you have navigated a vehicle through mud after a week of rain on a road fit only for one car.

 
7. WORKING WITH THE VET
I just love this side of the job…it definitely belongs in the Top 10. I am always like a kid at Christmas when the vet is coming to the farm. My favorite experience throughout my three years in the industry would be with a vet in my recent South African season. I got hands-on experience with small surgeries and assisted with multiple x-rays on yearlings and several minor injuries. I have never had the opportunity to get so hands on with certain injuries and be able to assist the vet on multiple occasions. This is one time where you can never stop learning, there is always a new way to treat something and a new injury that a horse can bring you. Over all my travels so far no farm handles anything the same way.
6. UNIFORMS
Call me a nerd, but nothing can make me stand up straighter and be more proud than coming back to South Africa wearing a National Stud jacket. Proving those people wrong who told me that I am too small, I am too weak, I will never make it. I am so proud of how far I have come and how much I have done already. When I put on that new uniform, I don’t only feel proud to have been able to work there but to wear their name and make them proud.
One more thing – You will promise yourself that it won’t happen to you, but you will become an instant cap collector, it’s undeniable.
5. PREPARING FUTURE CHAMPIONS

My love for the stud life started with foaling my first mare and that was it for me, I loved it so much. I didn’t think that I would love anything as much and then I did my first sales preparation in New Zealand and well, that just lit another fire. Taking these scruffy yearlings from their camps and teaching them to accept blankets and bits, going through their first bath and groom session….at the end of prep the yearlings cannot wait to be groomed and hand walked, and a little hose that seemed to be a terrible monster with water spraying powers is now their best friend. At the sales you see a sophisticated, well-groomed, beautifully put together yearling; a few months ago we could hardly catch him in a paddock. I cannot explain the way it makes me feel to witness such a transformation. It is a proud feeling.

 

4. THE FOALING SEASON
Every time I foal a mare it is even more magical than the first. This is my favorite time of the year, I have done four breeding seasons now, two in South Africa, one in England and one in New Zealand. Not one farm foals the same, not one farm has the same technique or after care, that is what makes it so exciting. On every new farm, it feels like you are starting from the very beginning when you enter a new season, but the result is always the same. No matter what time of night or morning it is, I always get excited to rub the water out of that little nose and watch it take its first breath…and witness the mothering instincts of a mare as she wraps her head around her new baby.

3. MEETING NEW PEOPLE
I cannot begin to tell you the amazing people I have met on my journey. I have met and had the opportunity to work with people from Ukraine, India, America, Ireland, England, Australia, and New Zealand. I think we had one of each nationality on the stud farm in New Zealand.
Spending a season with these people bring a friendship that only stud life can give you. You have a friendship that has conquered late nights and early mornings, staying up with sick foals, working as a team to get thirty stables done before breakfast time, walking long, long roads to take a mare back to her camp after a scan, feed run pep talks, and most of all living together with one bathroom definitely brings you a little closer. Good times and bad times, there is no closer family than a stud family.
2. TRAVEL
When I was at school, I remember dreaming of travelling the world. Getting on a big airplane and flying for hours, discovering new places…It seemed out of reach, it felt like it would always be just a crazy dream.
When I got accepted to the School of Management Excellence, I told my parents that I was going to get that scholarship to England and I was going to give it everything I had. I will never forget that night, when my name was called for the scholarship, my hands were sweating and my heart was pounding…my dream came true. After completing the scholarship in England I received an opportunity to go to New Zealand which lead to a life changing holiday in Australia and a year later I went back to New Zealand with my sister. What was once a wild dream, is now my life and my motto:

Work – Save – Travel – Repeat

1. SIMPLY, BECAUSE OF LOVE
The one and only reason but perhaps the most important, is I do this job because I love it. I hate calling it a job actually; I have told everyone that this is my hobby.
There is something about the feeling of being a part of something. The stud grooms, night watchmen, stable hands, and assistants look like such a small part of the industry…but I think we are just as important.
Some people forget all the work behind finally getting that racehorse to the track, never mind getting it to the yearling sales.
Waking up in the early hours of the morning to help a mare have her baby, making sure that foal is healthy and strong to grow up and become a naughty weanling and eventually start prepping a striking yearling to catch a prospective owner’s eye at the yearling sales. Feeling your heart skip a beat when that same foal that was figuring out what these four legs beneath him are used for is now being led into the parade ring after months of preparation, exercise, hand-walking, diet, blankets, and everything that comes with it.
This is what the Thoroughbred industry means to me…these are only a few of the many reasons I have dedicated my life to horses, I might not have grown up with horses but they have always been with me. I cannot imagine spending my life any other way.

 

By: ASHLEE HAMMOND

No one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side.

I just realized that I always start my posts on a statement of what type of week it was…this time I feel like changing it up and leaving it a mystery.

I have been looking forward to this long weekend so bad, four days of working “weekend hours”, its the farm life dream. Before we get to the weekend though, there still has to be a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. You have probably never experienced a busier week in your entire life. The first draft of sales yearlings going to Johannesburg were leaving this Saturday, so there had to be shoeing and vet checking and some owners and trainers like to come look at the yearlings on the farm as well. Because it was technically only four days in this week, we had to squeeze everything in…we literally used every spare second on the clock to get things done. We made it though, and all on my own I managed to juggle the foals, the weanlings, and the yearlings, the treatments, the farrier, the vet, and everything in between. You know what makes it all worth it, when your boss tells you “…that he is really impressed with you, and really proud.”

I can fully say with confidence that the horses going to the sale are ALL MINE! They are my blood, sweat, and tears. I didn’t think anyone noticed how much work and effort I put into it, nevermind the boss. Now Mrs. So and So isn’t here, they finally see my light! God has got my back, He always has. Like they say, Good always wins.

Starting on the weekend…I just couldn’t wait to get Saturday over and done with. I wanted those horses on the truck and on their way to Johannesburg as soon as possible! Just hoping and praying that the guys packed everything and the horses had all their stuff, and everyone got on the truck okay. To be honest, I have been so anxious I have not been able to sleep or eat at all. I have no idea why I was stressing about it, because it went smoother than a piece of silk.

Another exciting thing happened this weekend, I made a friend! Yes, your probably thinking, you should have tons of friends in Robertson, you’ve been there for eleven months! Holy moly, just got a fright! I have been here for ELEVEN months! Anyways, He (yes, he) is the resident “house-sitter” (No, that’s not his real job. of course.) My work colleagues  occasionally ask him to house sit while they are away. He’s been here a couple of times, but I only properly met him on Friday after work. He wasn’t what I had pictured…down-to-earth, pleasant, has a rather capturing smile, and amazing manners…a proper gentleman. It was probably the first holiday since I left home that I didn’t feel completely alone.

I am not the most social person on the planet, I would much rather get pizza and watch a movie under a blanket than go out drinking till early hours of the morning. I would rather go hiking, go on a road-trip, or do something exciting than spend every weekend at a different party. I guess that is why I haven’t made many friends in eleven months. But, I do have a best friend already, I feel like I don’t need anyone else. My sister is my best friend…she knows me better than anyone else ever could, heck, she knows me better than I know myself! She know’s how I feel by simply reading my messages or hearing my voice. Some people meet their best friends in school, or wherever…I was just incredibly lucky that I grew up with mine. Wow, getting a little emotional over here on my couch. Excuse me, it happens every holiday, I am most emotional during these times of year. I am just super blessed, and super thankful for my family. Even though we are miles and miles apart (I know South Africa use kilometers, but that statement sounds better in miles…even you have to admit) Anyways, even though we are miles apart…I couldn’t feel closer to them.

Back to my mystery friend…I don’t like mentioning any real names on my blog so we are going to call my new friend, Fish (there is  story behind that) let’s hope and pray I don’t mess this one up by being a socially awkward little mouse that doesn’t like getting out of her comfort zone. I really hope this is not the last time we will hear from Fish.

I am always surprised at how much can happen in a week! I am never short of stories, am I? Well, that is really all for now.

As always, thanks for listening.

 

 

Make progress or make excuses.

It’s been a busy week (as usual) thankfully, no tears this week! I think I have found my greatest strength in my hardest fall. Something has changed, I feel confident and I feel like nothing can stop me. I am determined and I want to keep writing this chapter of my story. 

It’s been really busy at work, there is so much going on. Who said the off-season was quiet? Uh, no…you are so wrong my friend. It could probably be because I am currently doing the work of two people! I am actually glad because if I had to sit on my bum the whole day I think I would go insane. Sometimes I want to pull my hair out when I can’t get to everything, I have to put it off and separate everything so I can get it done. I wonder if anyone even notices how much effort I put in? It doesn’t really matter to be honest, I know and God knows…one day they will all see. 

The next few weeks are going to be glorious, I wont have this dark cloud following me around just waiting to rain on my parade. This is my time to shine, this is my time to prove myself. I am going to have to pull up my socks, and tighten my belt. I can finally throw away my umbrella and let my light shine. 

Although, I am not going to lie. I have been overwhelmed by everything that I have to do, the sales preparation of thirty plus horses and departure of two sets of sales have been put on me and everything that goes with the two. Oh, wait…you thought I was done. No, in between I have to look after the yearlings and newest weanlings, as well as the foals that are still with their Moms. Well, It should not really be much of a challenge because I have almost been doing everything anyways. So, I am actually, kind of prepared. This is just everything 2.0.

Right now I am not even going to get into how much Mrs. So anQuote 6d So doesn’t even care how everything plays out and how I have had
to hear it over and over again. I am sure I have bite marks on my tongue because I had to constantly hold my words last week. Nope, you know what, I am going to be okay. Look at me, my panic is pouring through my words. Can you blame me? I just keep thinking – I did not graduate as top student twice and survive a season in New Zealand and make it through Karaka, do four seasons IN A ROW may I add, to not be able to do my job. This is the little league compared to what God has in store for me. One day I will be a manager, this is my time to take that first step. Prove that I can do this on my own…not for my boss, Mrs. So and So (actually don’t need to prove anything to her at all), or anyone else. The person I need to prove myself to…is Me.

So, let’s do this thing. Nothing is to big for a Hammond…bring it on. I am ready! 

Until next week, Four Boots out. 

Quotes 4

Before Alice went to Wonderland, she had to fall.

There is a saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” What happens if your tough got going, but it just ain’t going anywhere, anymore. What do you do then?

I know better than to ask God, why cant I just be happy? Why must there always be a person in my life that is set out to destroy me. Why? I know this is His plan…there is nothing that is happening in my life right now that He doesn’t know about. I wish I knew what I was supposed to do though, where am I supposed to go from here? I wish I had a copy of my story – wouldn’t that make life so much easier? Then again, given the choice…would you really want a copy of your story? Would you want to know every detail? I know, I know – what lessons would you learn from not going through hardships, what would you learn if everything came easy?

How much pain do you have to go through until ‘giving up’ is okay?

I don’t have this blog to always write about the good times, people have hard times too…it’s all apart of the story.

Last week was one of the toughest weeks for me…it has been a build up for a long time but I finally cracked. I have always just pushed it aside, in hope that it will get better. That is just who I am. My breaking point came on a hot, Friday afternoon when I was called useless. I literally got a sharp pain in my chest as my heart broke…never in my life have I been put in a category as useless. I dedicated two years of my life on learning to do what I do, and always give it one hundred and ten percent. You couldn’t even begin to imagine what is behind this smile, what pain, what blood, sweat, and tears, all the stories behind becoming who I am today. You know what, I wouldn’t change any of it! Not one detail.

I have enjoyed every single minute on this farm, I have enjoyed the laughs, survived the tears, and made it through the pain. I can write pages and pages on how much I have learned, and how much I have done here. Is this God’s way of saying, “C’mon Ash, don’t get comfortable now, your story has a twist! It’s time for a new adventure.” I don’t know.

There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you have had enough.

I am just lucky that I have an amazing family by my side…I never have to go through anything alone, I never have to make any decisions alone. I just cant go wrong. That is where some people make the biggest mistake. I actually heard it in church today, the worst thing you can do is go through anything alone. Proverbs 4:7 – The beginning of wisdom is this: GET WISDOM. Though it cost you all you have. We should never be afraid to ASK questions, to ask for help. That is how we gain wisdom.

I am going to end on this quote that I found, it sums up what I am going through perfectly!

Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you. 

Here is too what is to come!

Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. – Dr. Seuss

Hello again strangers,

It’s been quite a while, but I am back in action.

Let me begin by saying that my sister and I had the most amazing, mind-blowing, bucket list-kinda-stuff, out of this world, unbelievable time in New Zealand. The things we did, the stuff we saw, times that will be treasured forever. I still cannot believe that we dreamed of the day we would travel together but it always seemed like just a dream. Now that dream came true and my sister and I have traveled not one, but TWO countries together! All I really have to say is that we have an amazing God: we are crazy blessed! I know this is only the beginning, we have many adventures to come. Oh, thank you for everyone who liked our travel Instagram! #muchlove

I will be writing a separate blog post all about our time in New Zealand with pictures and all. I just wanted to let all my followers know that I am back, and fill you in on what has been happening since. Other than feeling like I have gone through a break-up (with travel). Don’t laugh, I heard it is a real thing…

Sehnsucht (n) Origin: German

A wistful longing and yearning in the heart for travels that have been and travels to come.

When you’re not travelling this can be an overwhelming feeling, or when you think about the travel you’ve done and you wish you could relive it all over again. This feeling is why you need to make the most of every moment! It’s why the more you travel, the harder it gets.

http://www.migratingmiss.com

Can you actually believe I have been back at work for two weeks already? So much is happening at the moment, we have started weaning the foals (taking them away from their mothers). I was quite excited about this since I have never been around for the weaning process. It has been so much simpler than what books explain, or what I imagined. I guess all farms do it differently, but I really like the way our farm does it. It’s so hand-on and there is so much patience and care the foals don’t even know their mothers are gone. It’s pretty cool! I try to be involved with as much as I can and help out wherever I can, even though I am technically on the yearling side. I am also assistant to the foaling side but apparently weaning is not apart of our job. Some people believe that if it is not in their job description then it’s not their “problem”. I cannot think that way, I believe every opportunity is a chance to learn even if it’s not my ‘job description’. This is the first farm I have been on where it has been like this. “Teamwork” is not a regular word here, it’s every man for himself really. I don’t really care about the whole, “this is my side, and that is your side” situation. If you need a hand, I will lend you one…if I see something that needs to be done, I am going to do it. That is how a stud farm works!

In between weaning, we have tons of sales preparation going on. Horses that need to go in the walker, horses that need to be groomed and hand walked daily. Then I have to look after the rest of the yearlings that haven’t made the cut for the major sales (but will go to other sales), in between dealing with farriers, vet visits (my favorite), and then my not so favorite-grumpy people, and people who don’t want to work.

I just cannot believe that it’s been three weeks since our big adventure.  Where did three weeks go? I like being excited for something, looking forward to something. The next thing is that my family (hopefully, the WHOLE family) will be coming down to Cape Town to visit me…and and and, wait for it, another exciting thing is that my sister will be staying with me for a couple of months. Talk about looking forward to something, the time cannot come quick enough! We can add some South African adventures to our list.

So this week I need to conquer some mountains anIMG_6176d make some decisions. So much going on in this head of mine, just too much to get through right now. I just wanted to let everyone know that I am back on African soil, back and blogging about life, horses, people, problems, everything really…you guys know me.

Thank you for listening…

Here’s to the stories to come!

 

 

 

 

 

Make them wonder how you’re still smiling.

Before I begin, I need to state something that has been holding up this post. My blog is about my story, my experiences, the way I felt and the way I see the world. I am not here to just write about sunshine and roses because that is what people want to hear! Life is not like that, life has it’s up’s and downs. I want to read back on these stories…I want to look back and say I made it, look who I am today! Most of all, I want you to read it and think, “If she can do it, so can I!”

So, the January sale is done and dusted. Months of preparing horses day and night making sure they are in tip top shape to be sold under the judgmental, careful, extremely excruciating process of picking a champion. It’s always funny to me, you spend hours and hours with these horses, knowing their good side and their bad side like the back of your hands…and to give them away to the highest bidder who thinks that they walk just right, their legs are straight enough or their heads are in proportion to their bodies. What about that horse that has slightly skew legs but has the most loving nature…he could be a champion too. That is the thing though, you never know. It’s all about taking the chance!

It’s a weird industry!

Well, let me get to sales week. I have no idea where to begin! Ready to go with new trainers and all, prepared for the hard work ahead. All thirty-six of our horses arrived at the Cape Town Convention Center mid-day on the 17th of January. I was so happy I got to drive in the truck with the horses, in the front! Getting in with my short legs was a whole story on it’s own!

We stayed in a beautiful hotel, my room was awesome, the shower was grand, and the bed was comfortable. Much better than what we stayed at when we did sales in New Zealand! I was not quite sure what to expect here, I was warned that  it was going to be tough and a lot of hard work (that never stopped me). I survived Karaka, I am sure a draft of thirty-six horses will be a breeze.

I was suffering with terrible hay fever the whole week, barely being able to breathe through my nose, being sworn to and embarrassed in front of the biggest people in the industry on top of it all. Sound like fun? People now tell me that it’s because “people” are under a lot of pressure, “they” are stressed, it’s a lot for “them” to handle. You know what, that is NOT an excuse! I REFUSE to accept that, under the most stressful situation I believe you can find enough humility to treat people with respect! Don’t you think we would then work harder and harder and try be better and better? How do these people’s brains work? Now I am the one who people will remember as the idiot that couldn’t do anything because that is how you portrayed me!

All I have got to add is, THAT is exactly what a life without God looks like! Unhappy, stressed out, tired, and a stone hard, ice cold heart.

Too scared to even sit down and have lunch, in fear of your name being shouted out with multiple curse words in front of an overseas buyer, I stood just waiting at the top of the yard…feet dead from the weight and blisters boiling in your tight shoes from swollen feet…wearing a smile behind the pain and boiling blood with images of packing your bag and leaving with a mic drop moment at the next tipping point (that would never happen).

Sales ended with a sort of anti-climax, no celebration, no thank you, nothing. We had sold all the horses, packed up and went back to our hotels at nearly 12pm on Sunday night. I don’t want fancy champagne, I don’t want a box of chocolates, I just want a thank you…a simple thank you for all the hard work and even a sorry for being so hard, but we got nothing.

I am trying to explain that feeling that I got, I simply cannot put it into words…being yelled at and well, you know – in Harry Potter what dementors do to wizards when they attack, they suck all the happiness out of the victim. I guess that is what it felt like, it felt like I was useless and there was no point in trying to prove him wrong because everyone close enough now believed it too. Through the tears streaming into my eyes, and broken voice, I still called lot numbers and greeted buyers with a firm hand shake and a big smile. I carried on. My light was fighting to shine through the biggest storm and strongest winds threatening to break the glass of my lantern and blow out my light.

So, that was the sales all wrapped up short and well, depressing – sorry about that. I am not going to sit here and candy coat an experience because it makes good reading. This industry is not easy especially when you are five foot something, with a small voice and an extremely big heart, just wanting to make a name for herself, make her parents proud, and live a dream people only imagine in their lifetimes. I am glad I had a “friend” there, for months she had made sure I didn’t have it easy, but in the time where we had shared the same pain we sort of had an understanding. We wouldn’t have made it without each other. Who know’s what it will be like back on the farm…I am just glad that in a dark place the most unlikely person found their light. Let’s hope it keeps burning.

Now only two weeks and a weekend and I will be setting off on a grand adventure with my little sister to New Zealand. Exhausted, and mentally finished, I simply really need to put the past behind me. I was trying to search for a soul gripping quote about letting the past go, and looking forward to the future. Well, you know what, there is really nothing more to be said. It’s that easy…just let go. There are more chapters in this book to read!

You will be too much for some people, those aren’t your people. Glennon Melton

 

Another summer day, has come and gone away.

I am sorry I haven’t posted in a long time. It feels like forever, to be honest I have sat down and wrote several times but my mind was not quite in the same place as my heart. My mother taught me to never do anything when I am angry. So it would have definitely showed in my writing.

Well, the past two weeks has gone by in a flash. Last, last weekend I celebrated my 23rd birthday. My family brought me to tears as I opened their surprise package that they sent me. I was super emotional, I was going to say, “I don’t know why” but I am always emotional. That was the BEST part of the whole day. Too feel so close to them even though I am so far.

Only one whole week has gone by since, and I need a foot rub, a back rub, leg rub, head rub, and can someone rub my heart too? I have never ever experienced more mental drainage than physical. This job is definitely  the other way round right?! You know those movies, where there is always that bad guy that wont settle until their lies and wicked ways ruin your life and make YOU look like the bad guy. HELP ME! I have never had to deal with this before! I am stuck between a rock and a boulder!

Like superheroes, and nerds, and those unexpected heroes that save the day. I don’t feel like one of those. How do you fix this, how do you push through the climax and defeat the villain to find your happily ever after? I was told the past week that people have come, people have fought but lost the battle and decided that it was too much, (this came as a surprise to know that I am not alone, I am not the first one) I must stand out and be the change…be the light to finally defeat this darkness.

BE THE LIGHT! Be the light. This week’s challenge. To be the light in the darkness, be the one to finally conquer this battle. I am sounding really dramatic, I know. But this is how it feels, this is how I feel.

I cannot really share much about work, the horse industry right? In a nutshell, the season has been winding down quicker than we expected. We have only two mares left to foal and as usual, they will hold on to till the very last minute. I have foaled a total of fifty-four mares this season. To be honest, I am not as exhausted as I thought I would be. It was most definitely a very long season, and we had our ups and downs, but we made it. We made it. Normally it would start feeling more settled and a little relaxed but my stress levels are still at about ninety nine percent with the sales yearling in, and the multiple treatments that has fallen into my hands, sick horses, new horses, you name it…I am doing it. I have experienced some awesome things in the past week though, I assisted in my first castration (not as grueling as you think), and I was in charge of rectals and vet work. I have passed some major hurdles with flying colors. Told you its not all bad!

Best news of all…I am going home in 19 days!!! I really did feel bad in the beginning, but I am really past it. I have been used and abused by my so called “manager”. I was entitled to go home in December when I first got here, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU boss! I am going home for my sisters biggest day of her life, and a Christmas with my family. LIKE PLANNED. Once again, thank you boss, and may I just say thank you to God, I am blessed that is why I am going home as planned, I have His crown of favor.

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Counting the days until I get to pack my bag and get on that plane home! Hug my parents, have long chats with my sister, ride my horse. Just BE HOME.

 

You are your only limit.

There is no other way to start a post at this point in my life other than. . . What a crazy busy week! And it’s almost the end of the season? This time it’s different for me, it doesn’t really feel like the end since we have the yearling preparation going on now for the sale in January. Although we are coming to an end with the foaling season, a whole other season is in full swing. My body does not cooperate with my mind anymore…I am in constant battle of convincing myself that I can push myself more and more every day, more mentally than physically some days.

This week I have had to vaccinate all my yearlings, as well as walk paddocks every other day in conjunction with organizing and dscf6519managing a whole barn of forty yearlings with five boys which included farrier twice this week, and a vet visit, as well as daily treatments and trying to get these yearlings in tip-top shape for a sale only TWO MONTHS away! Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.

We only have about nineteen mares left to foal on the farm, which is shocking, I can’t believe it’s almost at an end!  My fourth breeding season under wraps…although a whole new season will then begin for me…I have always left a farm after all the foals were born and I have never stayed for weaning or actually seeing the foals become yearlings. So, I am really excited to do something new and also have a place to call home for a year to save up some more money for my next adventure.  I had sleepless nights thinking about this decision…Am I wasting time staying here for a whole year? Am I just going to settle because I am comfortable? WHOA, let’s just hold on to those horses for a second. I am most definitely not comfortable! Hours are long, (but that changes with the season), I am confused by choices everyday because orders are coming from so many directions, and who do you listen too? Because if you “obey” one order the other turns their back on you…that is my biggest fear, becoming the hated. Are you afraid of being hated even though you know you have done nothing wrong? I am. People confuse it for “people pleasing”, but you know what…the world we live in today you are either somebody’s friend when you can be at their beck and call but once you say, “no” or even think of saying, “no”….in a blink of an eye you are the worst enemy. That is my biggest fear, hence I try to do my best to keep everyone happy and in the end I am the one who suffers. I will do favors for you, I will go the extra mile to lend a helping hand. I will do one hundred and ten percent for people even though I know that they wouldn’t even do the same for me. What is wrong with me?

Anyways, this weekend I took a stand for myself. I said NO for the first time in a long time, I said “no”. With no explanation or excuse, I plainly said I can’t do that for you.  Usually I would give up all my plans to help someone out, to lend a helping hand. This weekend I put ME first.  So, I have got to pat myself on the back and say well done Ash, for getting some balls and standing up for yourself for once. Like they say, Rome was not built in a day!

There you go, all caught up on the news and some of my thoughts on everything. I really just want to push this thought on everyone that will read this. Don’t ask someone to do something if you are not willing to do the same for them. Take it from me, the one on the other end…I have a really big heart and the word, “no” is hard for me because of that fear of being hated. That is simply called MANIPULATION.  It is not fair; it is not fair to put someone under that pressure. Don’t let someone fear being rejected by you so they are forced to do anything. I don’t know how else to put it, once again it is just the world we live in. But as my Mom says, why try so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out.

Let me just end on this beautiful picture that I took last weekend. These mountains make me feel so small and insignificant. I stare in awe of how beautiful God’s creation is. I feel rather selfish being caught up in my fears of being rejected by the people of this world and forget that the only acceptance I really need is God’s.

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“Be who  you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

– Dr. Seuss –

What consumes your mind, controls your life.

My last post was pretty emotional. It was quiet the emotional week to be honest. I am glad that I got it all out now. I see the world through new eyes, and with a closed heart!

So, remember I told you that on this farm “challenges” come in small swells, well last week we had a tsunami of a change. We have now moved around fodscf6446rty something yearlings into stables to begin preparation for the National Yearlings sales in Cape Town next January. I must say I handled the change pretty well, still very much getting used to this “in charge” story. It’s not as easy as it looks being in charge, especially if no one sees you like that. It doesn’t help when your voice sounds like a mouse with tonsillitis, and you’re as small as a pebble amongst the boulders. It’s quite hard, but trust me this mouse can lose it too. I have lost it quite a few times already, but have learned that it doesn’t get you anywhere.

For example, I had once situation last week where I could’ve used some calming words for sure. I am not too sure of how to put this story into a political way so I will just share the point with you, the point is…I CAN catch a foal, I CAN wrestle a foal to give it a treatment, I CAN walk a yearling, I CAN hold a mare for the vet. Uh, it’s slightly frustrating being told to be careful 24/7, and being pushed to one side because a MAN can do it better. I wouldn’t do this job if I was scared? Anyways, I make the most of it by picking up a broom where I can and personally doing all of my treatments, BY MYSELF, even if the horse is crazy, I go the mile because that is the person I am.

How do you earn an authority position? I don’t know how to do this, I always thought that being the boss and making decisions was my thing…but it’s harder than it looks. Here is where it gets confusing, if you are given a position of authority and responsibility and then every time you try to earn it you get scolded for doing it wrong? Does this make any sense? This is why it’s so confusing, I am trying extremely hard to earn this position and it keeps slipping out of my fingers. Don’t give up, keep on keeping on. Yes, yes I know.

My goal this week…my goal this week is to be strong. I may be small, but I have a big heart, my Mom’s fire, and my Dad’s wisdom. I CAN do this, God would not have given me this position if He thought I couldn’t do it. That is a really encouraging thought. Plus, I must learn to stand up for my opinions. Why would you give me the authority to make a decision and then tell me it’s wrong. No, this week I am standing up for myself! And I am not going to complain about anything  … no matter how SMALL it is. No matter what is it, work, the weather, no hot water, no water at all, bad hair day, anything and everything. I will not complain about anything! Challenge accepted!

After a nice week of sleep due to no mares that felt like foaling, and a nice off weekend I am ready to kick some bum this week! No complaining, no worrying, just smiling, having a good time, being positive…it cant be that hard. I think the world thrives on negativity and anger and complaining, it’s very easy to fall into the same trap when you work with people who thrive on it. My Mom always told me that we become the people we spend our time with. Time to stand out, and realize that this is not how you want to live all the days of your life…Don’t fall into the trap, take your knife and cut yourself out, break out from that circle of negativity. Let your light shine, and keep spreading that light.

That was a whole bunch of feelings in one post. The season is almost over and with the yearlings coming I feel like we have started the season all over again. One way to keep us on our toes! Still very excited to be staying for another year. I have made my house a home, I have my cat, and my family is in the same time zone. Life is GOOD.

Until next time, spread your light this week! Go on, spread it, what are you waiting for?

Like a wild flower; she spent her days allowing herself to grow, not many knew of her struggle, but eventually all; knew of her light. – NIKKI ROWE

Time flies when your having fun!

 

Eighty-two days into my Robertson adventure, my fourth breeding season, and my second official job. I am still smiling and enjoying every single minute. There have been a lot of changes but they come in really gentle waves which makes it really easy to get used too. For instance, our days have been a pretty regular with 7:00 to 17:00 job with an occasional evening of foaling, but now we have officially begun the breeding season, everything is in full swing which includes getting up a little earlier, catching more foals, the boys (aka the Stallions) will officially start their jobs, we will be seeing a lot more of the vets and we will wake up before the sun and go home without it. That is the next few months in a short summary. With already thirty-eight foals on the ground we have had a run up to the breeding season to get us ready for vet work and treatments and all the crazy that comes with it. Thanks to this, I feel totally prepared!

A lot of times this week I have wanted to sit down and pour my heart out into a post, but my Mom has always said that you should never write when you are angry or upset. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, like I said, a run up to the season. But also there have been unnecessary stress that doesn’t even belong here caused by things (or in fact, people) that are not worth wasting my breath on anymore. Perhaps a test? Why must there always be something or in fact someone who has to play with your happiness? It’s funny though, as much as it worries me, my happiness overtakes it times one hundred! It’s so funny actually! I am enjoying my job so much more than “they” think “they” are destroying it. Sorry, but I got some news for you. My God is greater, and He has got my back! I have worked TOO hard to get this far and for someone to destroy it!

I declare now that you are no match to my God, He holds my future and not you. I am not afraid of you!

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As much as I am happy where I am and so very thankful, I almost have an empty feeling I cannot really describe. You are probably all to familiar with that song, “I left my heart in San Fransisco…” well, I am pretty sure I left my heart somewhere on my adventures in New Zealand and Australia. I long with all my heart and soul to go back to that holiday I had with my sister in Australia. I would re-live those three weeks over and over again. I wished it would never end! How can you miss something so bad that it actually hurts! I wish I could just get us another plane ticket and go do it all over again! I actually think it’s a condition? I have got a serious condition, and the only cure is travel (preferably with my best friend aka my sister).

Well, as much as I wished I could turn back time…I have a wonderful, let me say that again, WONDERFUL job here and now. I am going to make the most of every minute and not waste any time. I am working towards that plane ticket! THAT is my goal, well, on top of my list of goals at least!

With long days ahead and lots of hard work I am looking forward to a busy week….I am focused and prepared for anything. My mind is ready and my goals are set! Watch out world, nothing can stand in my way! More exciting news is, tomorrow will be 10 days until I wrap my arms around my family! Yes, the Hammond’s are coming down to Robertson! I am so excited, I really just can’t hide it anymore! My boss asks me everyday how is my excited scale? Uuuuh, from 1 to 10…probably 100!

Anyways, good night and good-bye!

As I leave you, remember…

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.

HARVEY MACKAY

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