"Get some extension cords and the hair dryer, Cashlyn. We're gonna thaw these dang water pipes."
It was 4 degrees. In NC, that's bad-word cold. And she and I were butt-ugly tired from fighting it and sleeping in the barn lounge three nights straight. We'd kept 55 horses inside, dry, fed and watered. Hand watered because the water main that feeds the barn was frozen at the road.
On the fourth morning, I'd had it. Exhausted from hauling water from a neighbor's spigot in our old plastic water wagon, I remembered Cash blow torching something up at the road after every deep freeze. But I never paid attention to what. Under a broken cover on the ground, I found what I thought might be problem. Then I realized: I don't know what a blow torch looks like, if we still own one, or much less how to light it. The roads were solid sheets of ice. That's when the blow dryer idea hit me. Heat's heat, right?
Half hour later, jerking with cold while firing the hairdryer into a hole in the ground, we got nary a drip. Disgusted, I flipped the off switch. Stupid. What was I thinking? I'm not cut out for this farming life. Columbia University degree? Humph. You're an idiot.
Then I heard Cash, over my barrage of self-criticism, just as clear as he was standing beside me. "Turn the hair dryer on and leave it running. What's it going to do? Catch on fire in all this ice and snow? Go ahead. Do it."
Against my better judgement, I propped that hair dryer up against a piece of metal and left it blowing on the water main. And I drove away. Inside the barn an hour later, we heard the whoosh! A spigot in the barn belched out a beautiful stream of water!
As I so often do, I paused, smiled, and whispered Thank You Cash. Rare is the day at Cash Lovell Stables that he doesn't make his presence known. Many described him in his heyday as "larger than life." Then during his long illness, when he looked normal but displayed monstrous behavior, he looked largely evil. I have long been tormented by both Cashs. But in the year and a half since his death, I've learned to love a different Cash - the one whose spirit protects and guides us.
Sometimes I'm struggling with a horse, and I hear, "Cross rope him." Or as happened recently when I was looking at a horse for a client, I heard, "Good one. Buy him."
Sometimes, Cash's influence is more of a knowing. It's guttural. Maybe I'm crazy. Heaven knows plenty of people have branded me so. But after all the years of betrayal and hurt by those who fed off of his illness, our business -- and my ignorance -- it feels good. Whatever you call this voice or knowing, it's helping me make decisions at CLS that are proving to be good.
We are no longer strictly a Saddlebred barn. (Though we're working some pretty awesome Saddleseat horses.) As you'll see in this month's newsletter, we're developing a barn for horse lovers - not just Show Horse lovers. All disciplines are welcome. Saddlebreds will always be our foundation. There is nothing more grand than a Saddlebred Show Horse. But what do we do with the horses that aren't going to be show ring stars? And what about the people who can't or won't be bankrolling the show horse "industry" -- but who love and want a horse?
The horse world is changing. In order for there to be a Cash Lovell Stables for Cashlyn to inherit, we've had to change our business model.
In my bones, I know our new direction is right for Cashlyn and me.
We have grown a wonderfully eclectic barn family. Some of our riders are showing. Some of us are barrel racing. A few are trick riding. A whole bunch of us are riding hunt seat and trail riding. A few don't even own saddles, 'cuz it's just so dang much fun to ride without.
I can hear him laughing. Thank you Cash.