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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Can you work at a stable?

My entire life, I have always seen horses as majestic beasts that ran like the wind, their manes flying off gracefully behind them as they went off into the sunset. Only recently I realized that in reality, horses are intense pooping machines who enjoy lifting their tails and passing gas as you walk by.

Forcing myself awake at a whopping 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday, I got ready for a day at Garrod Farms, a stable in the hills above Saratoga that specializes in horses and wine tasting. 

At the stables, Santa Clara University student Kyle Gerner, who had worked at the stables since 2008 and had ridden horses since age 5, greeted me. Comfortably dressed in sturdy leather boots and a worn cowboy hat, he fit tidily into my preconception of a rugged All-American ranch hand.

As one of our introductory activities, the 6'2'' Gerner easily swung a ten-pound saddle on a horse about his height, while I, at 5'2'', could barely carry the saddle, let alone place it on top of a horse taller than I am.

After swinging the saddle up as high as I could, and somehow getting it onto Flyer, a dark brown gelding, we moved onto bridling. Bridling is basically sticking a metal piece into the horse’s mouth so the rider can urge the horse in the right direction.

Though bridling seems deceptively simple, horses, like humans, actually dislike having strange and foreign objects jammed into their mouths. During my attempt, the horse decided to jerk its head around and around, disgustingly slobbering on me the whole time, until Gerner finally came to rescue me, once again showing his superiority.

After bridling, we briskly moved through a myriad of tasks like filling feed buckets and scooping manure. As part of my training, I had to spray and rub in butt fungus treatment on a pony’s lovely posterior. Adding to the joy of touching his rear end, I also had to run after him because he refused to stay still.

Despite it all, the highlight of my visit was definitely leading a pony from one pen to another. After clipping the lead onto the Shetland Pony Simba’s halter, I pulled him along with me. His long hair made him look like an equine rockstar; the way he walked so slowly and his absolute shortness made him the cutest thing I’d seen all day.  

All in all, I loved my day at Garrod’s. I came home exhausted, smelling of horse manure and bug spray (which is sprayed out automatically from sprinkler-like nozzles attached to the ceiling of the barn, unfortunately for unknowing people standing under the spray like me), and ready to sleep. Working at the stables may be something I may want to do for real at some point, poop and all.

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