Four-Legged Creatures

by

By: Wendy Orrison
Head Field Hockey Coach

In my last blog entry I explained that my second duty was no longer lacrosse but the riding program here at W&L.  W&L’s head coach, Gordon Reistrup, is a trainer and owns his own show barn.  He is a part time coach for W&L so he does not have an office here at the University.  The idea is for me to help him with recruiting.  There are often students that come to campus interested in our riding program but there has not been anyone here on campus to meet with the potential rider.  Likewise I will try to help Gordon with e-mails and phone calls since he has a full time job outside of W&L.

The riding season is a split season with 3 or 4 shoes in the fall but the majority of the shows are in the spring (if you can call February spring).  During the month of February W&L’s riding program moves from the farm in Collierstown to the Virginia Horse Center here in Lexington.  There is an indoor arena so no matter what the weather conditions there is the ability to ride and train.   Gordon and his amazing staff then try to be two places at one time, running back and forth to feed, clean and exercise the horses which are now split between his barn 20 minutes south of town and the horses that are at the horse center.

Even though it was intended for me to help with recruiting, I have been helping at the barn three mornings a week.  I figure indirectly I am helping with recruiting because any time I spend helping with horses is time that Gordon can spend e-mailing, calling, or resting.  I also felt that I needed to get a feel for the animals, the team and the operation so that I could effectively recruit and describe the program to interested prospective.

There has been anywhere from 10 to 12 horses at the VHC for the past 3 weeks.  They must be fed and watered several times day, their stalls must be cleaned and they must be exercised.  It is actually imperative that they are exercised as they are in 12 x 12 concrete stalls and they start to go a little stir crazy.  Horses are mobile animals…as grazers they need and want to move throughout the day so standing in a stall really starts to where on them.

It doesn’t really matter if it is snowing and cold, or a beautiful day, the horses must be cared for.  We always had animals growing up because my parents felt that having animals was one of the most effective ways to teach and instill responsibility.  I agree and I have begun the same tradition with my own children.  Gordon and Amy (his barn manager) not only have to teach train and help 16 riders they also have to care for the 16 animals all year long, everyday.  It is a daunting task and their work ethic impresses me.

We were supposed to have our first two shows this weekend.  One today (Friday) and then one on Sunday both have been postponed. Yet the animals still need care and exercise each and every day.  I am enjoying my new second duty and although some folks think it is odd that I am willing to shovel a stall and walk a horse it is a wonderfully therapeutic type of work.  There is a beginning and an end to the tasks.  I can see when I have finished my work, which is often not the case in recruiting and office work.  Likewise the horses are always quiet and always there.  They don’t talk back or forget to show up; they don’t care if they start and they are extremely reliable.  Well that’s it- I need to get out of here before W&L shuts down for the day.  Sledding, sledding ,sledding… here I come.

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One Response to “Four-Legged Creatures”

  1. Winnifred Kahookele Says:

    Hi, I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you that I really finding your website,

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