We are oh so lucky Lara found SAFE! She has been a rockstar on the Sunday PM shift, stepping up as Shift Lead and then Barn Assist coming early to help with hay drop and turn in. Not only does she work a full time job and commit one of her weekend evenings to SAFE, she also shows up each Thursday night for Night Check to make sure all the horses are healthy and tucked in for their last meal. Thank you Lara, for everything you do for our horses, fellow volunteers and the staff! Learn a little more about Lara:
How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about?
When I was 12 my sisters and I, after years of begging, had the ridiculous privilege of being gifted a grey Arabian mare named Fancie as a Christmas present. Big red bow on a green halter and everything. I remember being terrified at first, in awe of her size and energy and pure, undiluted mare-ishness. I have a distinct memory of the moment I realized that if I occupied my body and meant what I asked, Fancie would respond. Her ears flicked forward from the ever-present pin, she became a partner. She loved being out on the trails together, and so did I. It seemed like magic, to link up with this big, sensitive wildness. I’d go for a ride most days after school, an essential reprieve from the tumult of adolescence. We’d trot through the semi-rural, semi-suburban neighborhoods nearby, galloping up the gravel shoulders on the hills. On weekends I’d eat my morning toast on her bareback while she grazed.
From there I spent the rest of my childhood in the barn as much as humanly possible. I joined pony club, took lessons a couple times a week, cleaned stalls and did feeding and turn-in as after-school jobs. I cycled through a few horses that were too green, too hot, learned (and fell) a lot. My dad bought a young Tennessee Walker as a trail horse, and on weekends we’d trail ride and horse camp. I had a nasty fall my junior year of high school – got bucked off on a cross-country course and shattered the thumb joint in the base of my hand. I continued to ride through the end of high school, but the severity of the injury and the transition to college shifted something for me. I haven’t had consistent contact with horses again until now.
What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE?
I like so many things, but the embodiment it requires is maybe my favorite part. I spend my work life pretty physically still, in my head. There’s something about being outside, connected to animal needs, immersed in the sensory experience of the barn, settling into the rhythmic movement of my body, that is both pleasurable and grounding. Connecting with lovely people, being of service, and tending to horses are also pretty great.
Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why?
I’ve found that I don’t have hard and fast favorites, exactly. I always have a soft spot for the big guys – Camille, Kelly, Cramer. I’m quite fond of Bijou, who reminds me a lot of my mare, Meg, who was my partner in crime for a time in high school (and who I broke my hand on.) I love the energy, the aliveness, the personality that wants to be close, curious, connected. I tend to be drawn to the sensitive ones, for better or worse.
What do you do when you are not horsing around with us?
I’m a psychotherapist. I’m lucky to love my work, and spend a lot of my time reading, thinking, and working towards deepening my skills and capacities in that realm. I’m very curious about the mind and how people navigate emotional experience in both conscious and unconscious ways. I find that I feel the most alive in the encounter with our most fundamental human conflicts around things like intimacy, presence, power, fear, time, loss, love and hate. I’ve been both intentional and privileged in being able to create a life where I get to attend to those rich, complicated relationships. Those realms are so present in horsemanship, and in my work, and are maybe the threads that connect my love for both.
Outside of work, I also like to bike, hike, cook, read, watch stuff, and spend time with family and friends. I’m actively looking to get started riding again and getting more hands-on horse time.