The End of an Era

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Carter’s love for all things horses started when she was two. She had a baby sitter who exercised horses at a lovely barn in town. Being a smart girl she learned to double dip by baby sitting for Carter and exercising horses at the same time. One of the sitter’s charges was a horse named Bob, who had an injury and could not take any weight above 50 pounds. Carter was the perfect rider.


Then Carter started riding in the summer at a barn near her grand parents farm. Mrs. Brown’s summer horse camp gave Carter a lot of experience taking care of horse and riding. The taking care part was almost her favorite part.


Eventually she wore me down by begging to find a barn at home so she could ride every week. When Carter was about seven she started going to Rolling Hills stables in Chapel Hill. It is quite a trek from our house, but every week and sometimes twice a week or more since then she has been going to Rolling Hills.


When Carter was ten her trainer Piper asked her if she wanted a job as a barn girl. Are you kidding? A job where she got to clean up after horses, who cares what she got paid. SO even though most barn girls had to be twelve, Carter, who was bigger and stronger than most girls three years older than her started working and riding.


Eventually she went from the junior barn girl to the senior and about four years ago she started working on Saturday mornings, which meant she was responsible to all the morning feedings and cleanings since Piper was not usually out at the barn at 8:00 in the morning.


This early morning Saturday job meant that some parent had to get up at 7:00 in order to get Carter to the barn a half an hour away. Carter was incredibly lucky that her sweet father, who never gets to sleep any day of the week, dutifully and willingly volunteered to do the one hour round trip there and back twice every Saturday.


No matter how much work he has, even when I say I am happy to do the driving, he says, “No, I’ll take her.” Carter and Russ have their Saturday rituals. Shay goes with them and the three of them stop into Bruggers to get bagels and Russ goes to Starbucks and gets his coffee. Even shay gets a bagel that she eats while riding on Russ’ lap.


Then around 1:00 Russ and Shay will get back in the car and make the trip back to the barn, stopping someplace to get lunch with Carter on the way home. Even though it takes up a good part of Russ’ day of rest he always does it with a smile.


Today, when Russ got home from picking Carter up form the barn he said with a sigh, “That was the last time I’ll ever take Carter to the barn.” She next Saturday Carter has an away basketball game in Charlotte and then the next Saturday she will have her drivers license, assuming she passes the test.


It was a sad day for Russ and even sadder for Shay. Those hours in the car are the biggest block of time he gets to spend with Carter alone. More learning, conversations and growing up probably happens on those Saturday mornings than any other time of the week.


I think that when Carter gets her drivers license I am going to have to find some errands I need her to run that involve carting her father around.

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