Horses are not like chickens. You can’t fit them onto a small piece of land. On the other hand, they are like chickens in that they need to live with at least one other of their kind. Because of this and a multitude of other reasons, I can’t keep a horse in my backyard, which is why ever since bringing Tonka into my life last December, he has lived at a boarding stable. I was lucky to find a tidy and well-run place for my horse just two miles up the road from home. Tonka lived out full-time in a large dirt paddock, with a shed for shelter. For the first few months his pasture buddy was a gelding named Merlin. Then Bianca came and they shared the space. Recently, he’s had three companions during the day, and one at night. Unfortunately, as nice as the people and the farm are, it wasn’t right for Tonka. Horses need to eat all day. Other horses did fine on the two hay feedings a day, but Tonka hurried through his ration, and then had nothing left to nibble on until dinner. Instead of making friends with the other horses, he saw them as competitors for resources. There were scuffles. Last week someone bit him hard on his back. It was time to go.
I began my search for a new stable. There are a few large, professional boarding barns near me, but at each the monthly fee is more than our mortgage. I looked at smaller, less expensive places, but the riding rings were rocky and the fencing rickety. Further north and west were options that suited both of us. I found one a thirty-five minute drive from my house.
The first thing that you see is a chicken coop. I felt right at home. There was one stall available, and after discussion with the barn owners, it was agreed that Tonka would fit in nicely.
Tonka will sleep indoors in a spacious stall.
During the day he has a paddock all to himself.
In the next enclosure over is a lovely grey mare, who has taken quite a shine to Tonka. If Tonka feels likewise, they’ll be put into the same paddock. Horse friendships are wonderful things, filled with play and back scratches. Time will tell if Tonka is interested. For now, though, Tonka doesn’t have to share his hay (fed four times daily) and he is more relaxed than I’ve ever seen him. Right off of the property are miles of trails to explore. On the farm are an indoor and an outdoor ring, both with good footing, which means that I’ll be able to ride all winter, and Tonka will get much-needed exercise, and physical and mental challenges.
After years of not having to commute to work, a daily twenty-two mile drive seems very, very long. To make the drive feel shorter (and maybe even educational!) I’ve been downloading podcasts onto my iPhone to listen to as I cruise up route 3. Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me shortens the drive immeasurably. Perhaps I should download TED talks, too. Do you listen to a podcast? Suggestions? It doesn’t have to be about chickens, in fact, I’d prefer to listen to something else. Expand my horizons!