In the fall of 2009, Jason Heminger was shoveling manure in a horse barn in Colorado when he started writing music. This was unexpected for several reasons. For one, Heminger didn’t consider himself a musician. He had never written any songs before. He could play a few chords on the guitar, but he had never been especially interested in music.
For another, though he’d long been involved in different aspects of agriculture, he’d never taken much interest in horses, which he viewed as “sort of a useless animal in today’s modern agricultural age.”
But, not long before, Heminger’s “soul-sucking” job on the waterfront in Tacoma, Washington, had prompted a breakdown of sorts. He re-examined his life and priorities and realized something had to give. So he quit his job and moved his family to a little mountain town in Colorado.
"I was trying to get in touch with my intuition, trying to get to know myself again—my emotional, physical, spiritual self,” he explains. “And I couldn’t shake this inclination to learn about horses.”
In his typical fashion, Heminger soon dove full-force into learning about horses. He joined the rodeo association, called around to horse barns, and started working in stables in exchange for the expertise of local horse trainers. It was in the stables that the songs started showing up.
“In the course of a couple days while I was working, someone turned the faucet on,” he says. “I just started writing, hearing melodies.”
In less than a week, Heminger had written somewhere close to 10 songs, which he captured on a voice recorder to work out on his old Sears classic guitar. In a few months, he had almost two dozen songs.
“I was like, ‘What the hell do I do with this now? I’m not a performer,’” he recalls. “I’d never stood on stage. I didn’t even know how to hold a guitar while standing up, nor had I ever sung into a microphone.”