The Morning After.

I always hate the morning after work. Always.

I worked yesterday – a full day at the place where I do horseback safari’s. My day was very long, (always is). I start work at 5:30am when I hike out into the bush to find my horses and it finishes at 7:30pm (or 8pm as it did last night) when I hike back to where I had left my car after I had pushed the horses back into the field. I spend about 7 hours of the day riding and the rest running up and down, organizing my helpers, talking to people about the horses that we have, catching the odd stray pony and trying to figure out how to take a group of 15 people out when we only have 13 saddles. I did my last two rides yesterday bareback because there were only enough saddles for the people I took out and one for my helper (I used my private saddle for her). Even if you’re a seasoned horse rider… That hurts. My guide horse yesterday was also a young, spirited animal and I was very relieved that I had not fallen off at the end of my last ride (a fast ride for advanced riders). It’s hard work and I always pay for it the morning after.

I’m bruised black and blue, I’m raw and my chest and nose are blocked from allergies (ironically, I’m very allergic to horses). I’m sunburned and dehydrated despite the fact that I drank almost 4 litres of water. The African sun is a hard task master. It’s on a morning like today that I’m very relieved that I’ve not quit the job although my physical well being was the last thing on my list when I started with the reasons for doing so. I’ve been working with this company for 6 months and sadly, I’ve had enough. The pay is terrible (for my American friends -$28 for the day) and although I’ve always been able to justify it, saying that I enjoyed it, I can’t do so any more. Things have changed within the company, and now – the focus is on making money, not taking care of the animals’ well being. I have complained and cried and practically shouted at the owners when I voiced my opinions and their answer was a blasé “we know, and we’re working on it.”

I’m sad to say that that was the last straw. I’m tired of working with horses that are over tired. I’m tired of working with animals that, although they have so much to give, they can’t go any further. I’m tired of seeing the animals that I love continuously get hurt. Although the horses are in a good physical condition, it’s something in their spirit, something in their soul that’s tired. I can feel it, but it’s so damned hard to prove. The thing is that I’m only the weekend guide, working 3 Sundays a month. The main guide don’t see it that way and can’t stop raving about how good the business is doing and in what a good condition the horses are. When he does this, I have a black fury that rises up inside me, because I feel that he’s not seeing what he should.

So, I quit. I feel as if I’m abandoning them, I feel as if I’m a drop out and a quitter. But. I quit. I have tried to change them but I have come to the realization that people will never have my priorities, will never see horses the way I do. It’s a sad fact of life.

So, I’m sitting here with my aching body, with my cuts and bruises and sunburn and I’m relieved that this is almost the last time. Next weekend, I will step away there and probably not look back. I’ve burned a bridge I suspect, but that’s the way it is.

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