The Mucking Time
from the Executive Director -
Kristen de Marco
Horse people will tell you - our best ideas come while shoveling… well, you know. I’ve found myself cleaning stalls a lot more frequently during quarantine--spending hours on the farm with the horses, alone. This mucking time with our horses has allowed me to deepen the bond with our herd- the heart of our organization. I’ve been able to slow down enough for them to show me just how far we’ve come as a team. From our almost unleadable mares, Fannie and Rimtiana, adopted from The University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, to our squirt, Nova, who refused to let anyone (especially our barn manager, Tom) touch her for several months, I sit with them now in stillness in the barn and see our progress and connection through our daily commitment to one another.
I admire how different their personalities are, and cherish how I know each of their quirks (Fannie must bang her door LOUDLY on the fan while her blanket is changed), and, most of all, their closeness to one another. They have overcome past abuse, neglect, and trauma to trust again. I have watched them find joy and peace together as a herd. It has taken time, intention, and repetition for all of this to happen. And, every moment I am with them, I have to earn the right to be with them.
In my years offering equine-assisted psychotherapy, I have watched many people make this same transformation. I can’t quite express what a privilege it is to witness people find their own solutions and heal from unimaginable pain. I am humbled by their courage and vulnerability. During this pandemic, spending time mucking has once again reminded me how deeply resilient we can be. As I make my way through all of my shovel-fulls, literally and metaphorically, and sense my own uncertainty about the world today, I am still filled with hope. We will make it through this, I remind myself. Just for today, it is enough just to show up and grab a shovel.