Kentucky, Chapter 2, In Which We are Attacked by Spiders

I didn’t know how much I have come to rely on my own training program at home and how hard it is to flex to a different topography for conditioning somewhere else. At Polestar, I know how to use the cross country 100 acres for my gallops and how to mix in the sprints up the steep hills. I know how to keep shoes on (mostly) and how to sustain heart rates up and do it efficiently and smoothly.

Moving to the barns in KY has made me rethink just how hard others work to keep their horses fit. I have a hay field to use as a gallop, but only the mowed perimeter and the downhills are so steep that I don’t dare pound the front legs, but the uphills are brilliant! But, how do you maintain a steady gallop for 6+ minutes? I’m struggling. I’m doing what I can with what they have, but its not quite enough for me to believe Archie is keeping his fitness.

One other not-so-minor thing is starting to affect me in all aspects of my life. Spiders. Steve’s barn is having an outbreak of epic proportions of Huge, Disgusting, Fat, Fast, Black Spiders. He says its because of the hurricane rains and this 18 degrees above average temperatures, which I totally believe is true. The only problem is that I am starting to get PTSD about them.  Locals call them wolf spiders. I could handle a few, but there are times when I can see over 10 scurrying across the horse’s stalls.

One night the Hubbard Horse Transportation shipper came to Steve’s to pick up a load and he went around the stalls to check paperwork, and in the process killed 30 spiders! He counted each one off as he popped them (THAT big!) and he impressed upon me just how bad the situation was. I really dislike spiders, but I am able to quell my emotions and calmly ask for help removing one, I’m not hysterical, I just do not want to not be near them.

Oh yea!!! Try and get this out of your mind!?!

I started to be afraid to pick things up, because inevitably there were 3 spiders underneath a saddle pad. If I moved my groom box, at least 2 more scurried away. Every single morning there would be 1-3 either drowning in the horse’s water buckets or just floating on the surface.  Every shoe became a potential spider cave, every moving thing became a spider. I started to dream of them, and finally I was riding Archie and ahead of me I saw a shadow from a tree with a spider form and my brain had absolutely NO trouble jumping to that conclusion.


I decided that despite the fact that I consider myself a rational scientist, this was beyond the acceptable limits of rationality and I needed to leave immediately.


Lucky for me, I have a friend here in Lexington who gave me the barn owner’s name of where she stays to see if she accommodate us.  Madelyn is the owner and I called her out of the blue and she wanted to know all about what I needed and what my trip is like, and yes, she said that she has nearly blow torched her own house down trying to barbeque the wolf spiders. She, like everyone else, has welcomed us to her place with incredible southern charm.

Besides the spiders, the horses need a different living situation. I neglected to tell you that Archie has not laid down since October 27thand that was the beer can overnight barn in St. Louis, Missouri (not a fraternity type story, but the silo was painted like a beer can).  Archie has rolled and gotten muddy in the field, but his vigilante personality has prevented him from being comfortable anywhere else in Steve’s stalls other than over the stall guard watching.  The stalls are safe, but they are not horse-friendly. Big difference.

Last night, Archie laid down! It was our first night at Madelyn’s and I went to feed him his morning grain and he had shavings all over him. First time in 11 days! I think that it is incredibly important to pay attention to that sort of detail for horse management. Lack of sleeping must contribute to a low level stress that he feels, and then you must start thinking about ulcers, and then you must start thinking about lack of attention and so on and so on.  I am so relieved to be in a place that makes my horses happy….. and with less spiders.



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