Tonka’s New Home

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.

SRS coop


Tonka will sleep indoors in a spacious stall.

SRS barn


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.

Tonka at walk


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!


  1. Sorry, I’ve never heard of feeding a horse twice a day. This might help fix the feelings you were getting while training. A hungry horse will not be so ready to listen. I also prefer the inside housing for a horse living in a winter area. He sure is a beautiful horse! He only has you to count on to make sure his life goes well all the time… you picked right up, even at the cost of a long drive, and did what a horse person does!

    • I agree with you on the feeding – I was hand-grazing daily to fill in the hours without food, but I couldn’t keep that up in the winter. But, Tonka did just fine outdoors 24/7. Ample shelter with protection from the elements.

      • I remember last years mud. The inside stall should make things easier on you! You’ll never get a winter and thaw without mud but having the inside stall makes life easier on both rider and horse…I think. I’m so glad he’s eating properly now.

  2. That’s terrible that “someone” gave him a nasty bite! Poor little guy, I guess there are bullies everywhere. Have you thought of bringing him home and getting maybe a burro for a companion. I know nothing about keeping a horse, I’m probably way off here.

    • A pasture pet horse can hang out with a burro and do fine, but it’s not easy to separate them when going off riding. I can just see me going down the trails with a braying donkey trying to keep up :)

      • What a cute picture that would be, of course you could let the donkey just follow like a mare with her foal.

  3. I love listening to audible books during long drives. Though sometimes it is hard to get out of the car because the story is so good! I’m glad that you found such a nice barn for Tonka!

  4. Tonka’s new digs look wonderful. And what a bonus that you can enjoy some winter riding.

    I have an hour and a half commute to work (each way). Books-on-tape/Audiobooks are my entertainment of choice. I even have favorite readers (and some not favored).

  5. I tend to agree with Marie’s comment. I think it would be lovely to have Tonka at your home and get him a nice donkey friend to keep him company. Having all your animals at home seems idyllic. Although you must have your reasons for not doing this, but it seems the perfect solution and how wonderful to have your whole animal family together (and much easier for you too). However, hope he settles into his new home and hope that your daily travelling doesn’t get you down. Best of luck.

  6. Good luck with the new digs for Tonka – I hope it all works out. I, unfortunately, don’t live in the country but have about a 45 minute commute in Austin traffic – so I love my podcasts. I have listen to lots, but I will suggest my 4 favorites (you already mentioned my very favorite, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me). Check out BBC History Extra Podcast, it’s an offshoot of their magazine, they usually cover a couple of subjects a podcast and it’s not all British history and it covers pre-history to post WWII. Another history related one is Stuff You Missed in History Class, tells the stories that don’t always get told in depth in school. Selected Shorts are renowned short stories read by celebrities (John Lithgow, Jane Curtain, etc) and finally The Moth – true stories told by the author – some funny, some poignant, most have an ah ha moment. Sorry for the long post – but I do love my podcasts. Enjoy

  7. Looks like you have found Tonka a wonderful place to lay down his hooves. I imagine the drive to go see him will be much more relaxing though maybe a little longer, knowing he is a happy camper. You have been busy, checking out all those places for your biggest boy…..nothing worth having comes easy, does it?

  8. If you get tired of listening to words, try tuning in to my radio station – Nothing but classical music 24/7. The only ads are those for the station itself although some of the sponsor’s acknowledgements do come close. The station is totally listener supported and runs almost entirely with volunteers. It’s quite an amazing operation and very relaxing.

  9. AHhh…I love podcasts! CarTalk, Science Friday, Radio Times, Fresh Air, DEFINITELY TED Talks, and I even downloaded a few free language ones so that I can start learning a new language. So far, it’s working nicely. I’ve already tried the few phrases I’ve learned on native speakers and they have told me I sound good!! Accent and all!! So – pick a language, go to iTunes and type in that language in their podcast section…browse around and pick a few. Different ones have different “personalities” so you may have to try a few before one sticks. And you don’t need an iAnything for them. I put them on my Mp3 player. I can’t afford iPhone stuff.

  10. Hey Terry – so glad you were able to find a great place for Tonka. I know what it’s like to make sure your horse is happy where they live!

    I love podcasts and a few I think you’d enjoy are:
    The Moth
    Fresh Air with Terry Gross

    I listen to others, but not sure they’d be up your alley. Lot of nerdy type things about comic books, sci-fi, etc.

    All best, Jen

  11. We just found the perfect horse for my daughter. We, too, have to board, and our barn does not have an indoor. But there is lots of nice trails. We also have a drive of about a half hour. Our boy, Trigger, is sweet on a grey mare in the next pasture. Unfortunately, she will be leaving in a month. Horses and chickens, what a life!

  12. Terry..So glad you found a new home for Tonka. I understand how stressful that can be. His new home looks wonderful!

  13. I listen to podcasts all the time. They go walking with me. My favorite (besides Fresh Air which you already know about) is Futility Closet. Close behind are the Stuff You Should Know podcasts (there’s a huge family of them).

    Lucky Tonka to have you for a friend and leader.

  14. So glad you found a place you like. Feeding four times a day is soooo much healthier for the horse, physically and mentally. And it’s just sad that your former place wasn’t more careful in their pairings. You didn’t say whether Tonka needed vet care or not. I hope not. The back is a bad place for a wound.

    And an indoor riding ring? And trails? That alone is worth the drive. :) I can’t contribute to the iPod issue. I’m still a bit technologically challenged. My daughter got a new one as a graduation gift and left her old one here for me. Um. I’ll get there eventually.

  15. Not much for podcasts, though I have been listening to Robert Caro’s four volume work on Lyndon Johnson.
    Also they have a turken !!! Do you know what her name is ?

  16. I got to enjoy “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” this summer. It reminded me of a similar game program I used to enjoy, called “Says You”. In it a regular panel would try to out-bluff each other (if that makes sense), making up definitions to uncommon words. Also I really enjoyed David Sedaris’ audiobook of “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.”

  17. If you can find it, Live Wire! is an awesome show. Audiobooks are also a choice.

  18. Check your local library’s website for down-loadable audio books. The titles available are usually a bit older but still entertaining and free to listen to.

  19. If you like listening to light and funny stories, The Vinyl Cafe is a fave from Canada. Stuart Maclean is witty, funny, and family-friendly.