Monday, July 7, 2008

Small Potatoes

We moved to our current location eight years ago from a typical starter home neighborhood in a bedroom community outside Dallas, Texas. The lots were tiny and the houses so close together you could almost reach out the window and scratch your neighbor's back or other parts you may not want to scratch. Mr. Fry's dream has always been to live in the country, hearkening to fond memories of childhood on his grandparents' farm. Always one to bloom where I'm planted, I agreed. We found five rolling acres of mixed open and wooded land which, coincidentally, was zoned to allow horses. We thought we were in high cotton with all that land. At that point, horse ownership was still a "maybe someday" thing.

After about five years, I had pretty much written off having horses at this location because of the logistical challenges of the property. My brain said it wasn't going to happen, but my heart refused to let my dream
die. Then came that fateful day in late October 2006 when I impulsively ripped a notice from a bulletin board and dove in without a clue as to how deep the water (or manure, as it were) might be.

Right away, I found my perceptions of our property warping in and out ala special effects in The Matrix. For example, when Poco was confined to the front 2.5 acres, it seemed really small when I saw how fast the grass got eaten down to nubs. Same thing when I saw much poop one horse could generate and how quickly it could pile up. However, that same 2.5 acres morphed into a massive estate as soon as I started shoveling. Once Jaz arrived in January 2007, Mike was on a mission to get the rest of the property enclosed before the front 2.5 acres were completely devastated. It seemed so huge when I'd look out to check on their whereabouts and might not be able to find them at first glance, or when I went out to catch one. When I began riding Jaz on the property, those same five acres turned into a postage stamp. He can traverse the whole length of it in just a few strides.

There are definite advantages to being a small-time horse owner. I'd say "backyard," but that term is used pejoratively. The best part about it is j
ust being able to walk outside to my horses. My initial internet plea for help and advice brought the gamut of responses, but the ones that hit me like a blow to the solar plexus were those claiming I should board my horse out for at least six months. Why would I do that? I won't waste my money on a gym membership because then, not only do I have to be motivated to exercise, but I have to make the time in my schedule and put forth the effort just to get there! Why would I want to spend even more money to have my horse at someone else's place? Besides that, I just wanted to be around them, to hang out with them, understand their nature. I've waited my whole life for this. No way would I settle for only seeing my horse when my schedule allows it. Riding is great, but it's just a part of the overall experience. While I may not always have the time or the energy to ride, I always have a few minutes to hang out.

We didn't have the money or the time to cross-fence to keep the horses any distance from the house. We've been
fortunate, because neither horse cribs or has been destructive in any way. The limited landscaping we have is xeriscaping, which is uninviting and indestructible, in any case. The only casualty in that regard was a large pampas grass plant which The Boyz munched down to the roots in the dearth of greenery last winter. The unavoidable proximity has made the horses very social and people-oriented. Since they can come and check out all things human, they are much more acclimated to the sights, sounds and smells of things that many horses find scary. Several times, I've had to bump Jaz out of the way as he stood in the middle of the driveway to welcome me home. I've had to shoo Pokey out of the back of the SUV when he came up into the garage to check out the groceries I bought. Our relationship with them is not unlike what we have with our dogs; they are a part of the family in a very hands-on (hooves-on?) way.

There's another five-acre parcel beside us that's been for sale ever since we bought ours. I sure would like to buy it, but until the economy picks up, that will remain a pipe dream. Still, I can't complain. The horses are happy and healthy, and Mike and I continue to be able to live indoors. Life is good.

No comments:

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin