USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘barn’
Legends
Narrative

“Silver Spring Barn” Ghost Story

Main Piece: “So at this barn where I would always go to ride horses, there was one corner of the ring…where shit hit the fan every time. There was nothing different about this corner than any of the other corners, but every time I would ride my horse around the ring the horse would either tense up, or the horse couldn’t go near the corner of the ring. So one day after a ride I was complaining to the barn owner about how the horse was acting, and I mentioned the fact that it kept happening in one very specific corner of the ring. The barn owner said that she was very familiar with that issue, and it wasn’t just me that was experiencing problems with it. Practically every horse, regardless of who the rider was, would have a really visceral reaction to that corner of the ring. So the barn owner told me one that she went to a psychic as a family. They told the psychic about some other things that were happening, and without being told about the corner of the ring and without ever seeing the property… The psychic said that there is one place that everyone gets scared of, and that it is causing problems for animals and the people. The barn owner said she was shocked that she knew about this, and then the psychic after doing a couple other rituals came to the conclusion that…. the recently deceased grandma was spending her days sitting in that corner of the ring watching the horses and the trainers riding them. The barn owner told me that the grandma rode horses as well and so the barn owner accepted it just tried to avoid that corner whenever she rode so as not to disturb her grandmother or spook the horses.”

 

Background: GR spent so much of her time at this barn training horses and riding them in events that this story really stuck with her and made her a little uneasy at first. GR said the idea of having the ghost of the grandma watching her was a bit unsettling, but at the same time she got used to the idea since there was never any threatening actions that were being made against her or the horses. GR talked about how the whole family that owned the barn all rode horses, so this idea of the grandma spending her time sitting in the corner of the ring and watching the horses made a lot of sense to her. Because horse riding is such a huge part of that family and the community, it was seen by the barn owner and GR as almost a beautiful way for the grandma to spend her time in the afterlife watching the thing that she loved so much while she was alive.

 

Context of the Performance: GR told me this custom, while we were talking about the things we would do in our free time, and what types of hobbies we like to do. Since GR is from an area where horse riding is far more popular than in California, GR had a lot of stories to tell about the barn that she used to ride at. And when we were talking about some of the ghost stories from around the world, she mentioned that she had one from her barn.

 

Analysis: Ghost stories are always fascinating to dissect as they generally have so many elements working throughout them, that may not be readily apparent. In the case of this particular ghost story, I think that this one is functioning as a way to help ease the pain for the family that owns the barn after the passing of the grandmother. Losing a family member is always hard, and after the loss it is incredibly difficult to cope with that pain. I really liked hearing this story, and it was told so well that I honestly got goosebumps when hearing the reveal that the grandmother was expected to be the reason for the horses getting spooked. I also find this to be a rather beautiful way to memorialize their grandma as white the pain of losing a loved one cannot be erased, knowing that she is happy and spending her days watching the thing that used to bring her so much joy is rather heartwarming in a way.

Folk speech
Proverbs

“If your horse isn’t cool, don’t be a fool… leave your helmet on.” Horse Riding Proverb

Main Piece:If your horse isn’t cool, don’t be a fool… leave your helmet on.

 

Background: GR grew up with a long history of horse riding, and that is one of her most favorite things to do when she has the free time and is able to make it to the barn. GR says that this proverb is incredibly important in terms of rider safety, especially when she was younger, the rhyming nature of it helped her to remember it very vividly. Essentially, GR says that this means that you are never supposed to take care of yourself and start getting ready to finish unless your horse is okay. Sometimes if its the end of a ride and you are getting ready to leave and pack things up, there are times when the horse may either be spooked or acting strange, and its important to never take off your gear and helmet before the horse is okay. GR said not only is it a respect thing for the horse, to make sure that the animal is okay and that you help to calm them down if something is wrong, but it is also a safety concern for the rider. If the horse does something out of character or unexpected, and it hits you or knocks you off and you are not wearing a helmet, you could get seriously injured. GR also said that its important to look out for the horse first too because throughout the event or the training you are asking a lot of the horse, and if you are not listening to it and ignoring its needs, it may also be less responsive the next time you go to ride the horse.

 

Context of the Performance: GR told me this custom, while we were talking about the things we would do in our free time, and what types of hobbies we like to do. Since GR is from an area where horse riding is far more popular than in California, GR was able to inform me about some of the expectancies that come with riding horses.

 

Analysis: Seeing as how it would appear that horse riding is something that people in this community generally tend to learn from a young age, it makes total sense that this proverb would exist as a way to help remind people of the dangers of working with these animals. Horses are incredibly powerful creatures, and the ramifications of being unsafe while riding them could be very severe and I believe that this serves to function as a cautionary reminder to these riders. Additionally, it seems that another main part of this is the respect factor that is involved with the horses. GR mentioned that a huge part of this saying is to serve as a reminder to respect your horse, and make sure that they are okay.The horse riding community puts a huge emphasis on respecting your animal, and it is interesting to see this as I feel generally in American culture there is certainly less of an importance placed on the well being of animals. We generally tend to see them as less important, and so in parts of the country that do not usually interact with animals besides house pets, there is far less importance placed on their well being.

Legends
Narrative

El Chupacabra in the Fog

Folklore Piece

“So my story… Um… It’s the myth of The Chupacabra by MK. When I was… When I was, let’s say 10 years old, my eldest cousin, one of my elder cousins, um came in one christmas and shared that he had witnessed something in the fog in my grandparents house. Imagine an old red house in the middle of the farm. Outside of their house, which was a quintessential farmhouse out in the country in Corcoran california, which, side note is best known for the Cochran Prison that houses Charles Manson. Charlie Manson? Charles Manson. Anyways, so Cochran. And he went outside and came back in and claimed that he saw lying on the side of the road, a Chupacabra. Now, if anyone is familiar with El Chupacabra knows that it’s basically a mythical creature, um, and he claims in his heart that it wasn’t a wolf, it wasn’t a coyote, it wasn’t a possum. It was all those things put together as one. And he came in and he scared us. We actually went outside to try and find it. And it was miraculously gone. OK? This animal that wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. He claims he saw. And it was scary for us because we knew it wasn’t true, but at the same time the myth of The Chupacabra lived on. Because every year, or every time we would be out there, and it was just a little bit foggy and there was a full moon, we would hear this animal that was said not to exist, which was said not to exist, but we knew in our hearts that it did. And I do honestly think it’s true. I think he saw something that wasn’t, it wasn’t, like I said it wasn’t a wolf or a mountain lion, it wasn’t any of those things. In my heart I believe that it was true, because when we went out to go find it, it was gone. This animal that he had seen. So there it is, the myth of The Chupacabra, and we still talk about it to this day.”

 

Context: When I asked the participant if she had any stories to tell, she told me immediately. “Oh, yeah, but I’m sure you already know about The Chupacabra.” I pressured her a bit more to tell me her version of it, and it ended up being the story above; not on the origin of El Chupacabra, or particularly any action by El Chupacabra, but just a possible sighting. She likes this piece of folklore because she says she “doesn’t generally consider [herself] to believe in this sort of thing, but I do.” And that, if anything it’s a “fun story that shows how crazy my family and I are.”

 

Personal Analysis: Legend sightings are prevalent throughout the world. Be it alien sightings, ghosts, demons, Bigfoot, Loch Ness, or Leprechauns. What’s interesting about these stories is that the person experiencing the sighting doesn’t often actually interact with the entity; they’re other-worldly both in that they do not take a typical earthly form but also that they can not be interacted with along the same plane as the informant.

Take this story, as an example. The participants cousin saw this animal-like thing through the fog, and it laid motionless on the side of the road. Despite not having interacted with it, he is certain it was El Chupacabra. His certainty also impacted the participant and her family; they believed the story despite never having seen it, simply because her cousin saw it through the fog for a split second.


I believe this is because these legends are constantly reinforced to the point that they create confirmation biases. Everyone in California has heard of El Chupacabra, similar to how everyone in Scotland has heard of the Loch Ness. If one might not have, they probably would not see the objects they see as anything but what they actually are: perhaps roadkill, a rock and a stick, a funny looking shadow. Instead, they take their previously conceived notions about these legends and projected them onto their sightings to confirm them as the creature.

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