During the fall break, while I was staying in Jeju Island, I had an invaluable opportunity to work at a horse ranch for a week. It was an especially eye-opening experience because I am applying to study veterinary science, I was able to work at Arion Horse Riding Center by recommendation of the owner, who is an acquaintance of my mother. At the center, there were seven or eight horses. My jobs for the week was to clean, groom and feed the horses, and clean the ranch.
|[Me cleaning the ranch. Photo taken by my mom]|
|[Arion Horse Riding Center in the early morning. Photo taken by the writer]|
Before I started working at the center, I was given an orientation on precautions. Horses in general because, regardless of size and age, they have a strength that easily surpasses that of humans - always need to be watched carefully when a person tries to approach them. This was because horses are capable of causing severe and lethal injuries when they intentionally or accidentally kick someone with a hind leg. To prevent such accidents, the horses' legs needed to be observed with extreme caution; I was taught to notify horses either verbally (calling their name) or physically (touching their head first then to the body).
After becoming acquainted with all important precautions, I started each day by cleaning the horses and preparing them for riding. I first cleaned them by grooming their whole body to get rid of the dust and soil that stuck to them during the night. Also, while grooming, I looked for any scratches or wounds that the horses got to prevent the injuries from spreading or becoming infected. Then, I saddled and haltered each of the horses. Lastly, I bridled the horses. While bridling, I was frequently warned that I must do so gently and softly. The instructor told me that bridling horses too tightly could graze the horses’ skin off. Also, when I muzzled (part of the bridling process) the horses, the instructor said the horse bridles and halters should never be pulled forcefully because it could cause a lot of pain to the horses due to the muzzle stretching the skin of horses' mouth.
|[Me grooming a horse. Photo taken by one of the workers at the center]|
|[Me bridling a horse. Photo taken by one of the workers at the center]|
Even though I worked for only a week, the experience was shocking and meaningful. Contrary to my expectations, the horses were not simply grazed and left on their own for the rest of the day. They took a lot of time and effort from the animal keeper by requiring the keepers to maintain a good dietary plan, daily health care and examinations, cleaning and opening ranch, and regular exercise.
|[Me leading the horse took on the last day of work. Photo taken by my mom]|
On my first day of working in the center, I was quite shocked by the enormous size of the horses. I was afraid that I could get injured while working with horses, and I did not fully ‘open’ myself to them. However, horses were living creatures like ourselves and they could acknowledge and feel how I shut my heart; as I was not opening myself to them, I could feel that they did not want me to interact with me as well. They ran away when I walked up to them and they pushed me away when I touch them. As I spent a few days in the center listening to the instructor how pitiful the horses are in the center, tied up and restrained by bridles and halters, I felt sympathy for the horses and that I have to respect the horses. I opened myself to the horses by understanding their situations, and toward the last days of the week, the horses allowed me to lead them to the center and the ranch. This - bond - that was created during the week taught me a meaningful lesson that humans must respect all living things by first forming a bond with them.
Korea International School Jeju
Dongki Kim firstname.lastname@example.org
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