During this long season of quarantine and transition to a new way of doing everyday life, I, like many people, have taken time to count my blessings. I am truly thankful for good health, family and friends, and to still be gainfully employed. Unfortunately, the multitude of layoffs at my company has created a tidal wave of work. The long list of projects that was manageable with a staff of fifteen before has now become overwhelming for a team of five. I rely on two things to help me stay focused and sane: my faith and my mare Shiloh Grace.
During the initial COVID-19 lockdown in Texas, many of the boarding barns in the area were closed for weeks. Separation anxiety, for both horses and humans alike, began to set in. Frantic owners, accustomed to spending their leisure time at the barn or going to shows, had to settle for text updates and Facetime calls. Fortunately, as a self-care pasture boarder, I was able to see my horse every morning…just long enough to feed and groom her (and her three buddies!), and then quickly return home to start my workday.
I have spent my entire career in corporate America. Dubbed “The Cosmopolitan Cowgirl” several years ago (after being caught cleaning stalls in a suit, pearls, and muck boots), I walk the fence line between the tack room and the boardroom. My heart is always at the barn and, thanks to technology, I manage to work from there on occasion.
My typical work week is inundated with conference calls, Zoom meetings, presentations, relentless emails, and constant shifts in priorities. After 50-60 hours of leading my team and working to deliver quality service to our customers, I must “check out” or risk the consequences.
My “equine time”, as I like to call it, is when I recharge and restore my balance. It is during those quiet times in the pasture when I pray, sing, contemplate decisions, shoot pictures, and sometimes get bright ideas! Time spent with my mare is when I return to true North—when I am the most like myself—not the corporate version desperately craving the special kind of freedom that only horse owners comprehend.
Shiloh and I have been together eleven years now and the bond between us continues to evolve. Before COVID- 19, we might trail ride at a state park or head off to a local rodeo play day. Those events are fun—and my mare always seems to enjoy them—but truth be told, I prefer the simple pleasure of sitting in the bed of my truck and braiding her hair. We listen to music and I tell her about my day. Some evenings a quiet stroll at sunset is the only prescription for peace after a hectic day. The 75-minute commute from my office to the barn is forgotten when I walk into the pasture.
There are also those times when she is aloof or more interested in her “boyfriend” (Dollar, the handsome barrel horse) and I have learned to tolerate that. But over the years I have noticed that when I need her most, she is always there for me. She knows when I am struggling. It appears she can read me like a book; some horses just have that gift!
With my retirement on the not too distant horizon, I am looking forward to moving to a small farm and having horses at home 24/7. I made a conscious investment in my relationship with Shiloh from the onset; I went all in, and the returns have been better than my 401K!
I understand that not everyone has the time or the inclination to make that type of commitment. I have come to realize that my life would have taken a vastly different path had I not become a horse owner. The relationships formed, skills acquired, experiences enjoyed (sometimes endured!) would all have been missed. In retrospect, there are many things I could have done better, sooner, or not at all. Shiloh is the tool God has used to keep me humble, motivated, challenged, entertained, and centered. Through all the twists and turns I am grateful for what we have accomplished so far and truly optimistic about the future! Thanks to equine time, our best days are still ahead!
Pamela D. Scott, full-time IT executive and part-time cowgirl, has devoted 25 years to the healthcare industry. When away from the office, she’s a farmer, writer, singer, and livestock photographer. Pamela enjoys everything rodeo, is an avid PBR fan, and loves Food Network!