Yesterday, I got a new horse. I exchanged my 8 year old high
bred, gorgeous saddle bred pinto with blue eyes and the sweetest disposition
ever, for a plain grey quarter horse that was once owned by a cowboy. Tough on
the heart to let one go, let me tell you. This new horse (named Nuther Bandit on his
registration papers) is calm, shy and rides western style (we prefer English,
ah well) like a charm. He hasn’t got half the style or flash of my beloved
pinto, Joy, or even as delightful a personality, but he is solid, easy to
handle and I expect it’s only a matter of time until we will build a report.
He’s sweet, but aloof, so much so that he spends his day at the opposite end of
the pasture as Peppy (who could be his twin in looks) and donkey. Since they are herd animals, horses
usually stick together, so I suppose it will just take time for Bandit to feel
at home and accepted and a part of the equestrian family.
I suppose I should want a horse that looks different from the one I have, but for some reason, I like that my two are now a matched set. The only complaint is that when I look out the window, I’m not always sure which animal I’m seeing. There are subtle differences in the horses, but you have to be close to note them. They are both geldings, both considered “grey” though they are mostly white with light freckles on the neck. Both have warm brown eyes and their main and tail are the same length. Both even have the same georgia clay red stain in their hair. I should get some bleach and work on that one of these days. The new horse is a bit beat up with bits and scratches on his backside – must have been the underdog in his last pasture, but in time I’ll get him sleek and healthy.
Peppy looks across the pasture wondering why the heck there is a new horse over there . Hummm….. that other fellow sure is handsome. . . . he reminds me of someone, but I can’t figure out who. (Meanwhile, donkey blinks wondering if he needs glasses cause he’s seeing double. He wonders if it time to lay off the weeds…..)
Cautiously, they’ve begun to make friends, wondering if they have anything in common.
Yesterday, I ran home after teaching a packed morning yoga
class to see how he was doing. I put my muck boots on to trek through the creek
to where he was standing and gave him some carrots. I’m guilty of feeding
animals (and people) to make them love me. He let me scratch his ears and looked me in the eyes as if
he was assessing whether I was worthy of his friendship. I assured him I was.
Bandit has been set out in a pasture for the last 6 years,
only coming in to ride occasionally. He’s never set foot in a barn or stall,
and never been fed anything but grass and hay. I will have to be gentle in
introducing him to the finer lifestyle that includes shelter when the weather
is bad and some grain. His good nature is evident in the fact that he can go a
year without being ridden, and then he behaves perfectly when he’s saddled up.
This is exactly what I need. A bomb proof, consistent horse. The reason we
never ride in this family is because we have only one perfect horse and one
beautiful, wild creature that only I can get on. When Neva has a friend over,
they beg to ride, but since I can’t put a child on Joy, and taking turns on one
horse is no fun, we end up skipping it altogether. Now, Neva can ride with
friends, or when non-riding friends come to visit, they can go out for a spin
on the horses safely. All I have
to do is get over my ego – I happened to like owning a flashy, drop dead
impressive horse. Ah well. The outside of an animal (and a person) isn’t what
counts – what’s important is what’s inside and how animal (or person) enhances
or drains your life. Can’t cling
to things for the wrong reason.
I’ve made arrangements with a teen with lots of riding and
showing experience (her mother owns a horse ranch) to trade dance lessons for
riding lessons. She will be coming each week to give Neva a riding lesson using
our two horses, which means both my horses will get exercise and continual
riding to keep in shape. Perfect! And with Neva feeling more confident on a
horse, she will ride more, which means keeping these animals will make sense.
Meanwhile, this little girl with the perfect dance body and good mind will be
taking teen hip-hop and lyrical. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
The person who chose to do this horse trade with me is
shocked and delighted that I went for it. She is, after all, getting a horse
worth 3 or 4 times the one she is trading. But Joy is only valuable if she is
trained, and I am not qualified to train her, nor do I want to invest thousands
of dollars for someone else to do the job. In effect, she is not worth much to
me as is, but the other horse has inherent value, and so this trade is fair and
equal. Anyone who studies economics knows that the right price is determined by
equilibrium – supply verses demand.
What is nice is that we are both very pleased with our new horses. She
has a horse that will be a challenge, but after she puts in the time and
effort, will be a great investment. I have a horse more like what I was
promised when I was shopping for an animal – one that anyone can ride.
Deep down, I had this lurking fear that I’d get hurt riding Joy,
so I was overly cautious with her, not digging in to give her the work she
needs. Not that I’m afraid of a fall or two, but I’m no spring chicken and I
hear stories of people landing wrong and being paralyzed or out of commission
for months. I love to ride, but face it; I’m not interested in huge equestrian
challenges. I only ride for pleasure. It is more about the sun and wind on my
face, the feel of a warm creature under me and birds overhead, than putting a
horse through the paces.
So once again, my animal world has shifted. I no longer have
the llamas or angoras, but I have 40 chickens, 3 turkeys, 2 peacocks and some
ducks with great personality. I’ve got donkey, of course, and now two gentle
quarter horses that could be bookends they look so similar. It is the right amount of
responsibility for me – just enough get me outside everyday and to enjoy
nature, but not so much that I feel inundated with maintenance. I’m still loving
our country lifestyle, but it is nice to have a new business to grow and I’ve
missed dance and the energy that surrounds kids, music and movement.
Finding just the right balance takes time, but when you get
there, you start to feel so much more comfortable.