I remember exactly how excited my wife and I were when we found the house we live in now. It’s a two-story farmhouse on six acres of rolling hills in rural North Carolina. We had been searching for a house with a barn, or at least with enough land for a few horses. (Of course, the space for horses was the most important part.)
Unfortunately, we weren’t finding anything. After a few weeks of looking I was sure that we were going to have to buy some land for the horses, sell all our things and just pitch a tent beside the pasture.
One evening, we were taking a new shortcut to a friend’s house when we drove right past the old farmhouse with its “for rent” sign. Two days later we were writing the owner a check for the deposit. Granted, we had idealized buying a house, but this place was better than anything we’d looked at in the area where we needed to live.
The house was in decent condition. It had some wear and tear, some mildew and a few doors that wouldn’t close properly. We could easily fix what we couldn’t live with. There was a single row of tin-roofed stalls out back, which hadn’t been used in about 10 years. The structure was entirely overgrown (mostly poison ivy) and had obviously been cannibalized for most of its wood. We knew we could clean it up and build new walls. The pasture needed a fence and we could build that, too.
It was a lot of work, but what a wonderful thing it is to have your horses at home, especially after years of boarding. We moved in with one horse and bought another shortly thereafter. We threw in some dogs and cats and had our own little slice of heaven. We were very happy for quite some time.
I began to notice, however, that the experience of owning horses often mimics dating experiences from our younger years. We grow apart from something that may have worked well only a few months earlier. Perhaps you long to ride beyond the ability of a $500 horse. Possibly you want a nicer saddle. Maybe you have a run-in and now want a barn.
Kimberly and I wanted more safety. We had certainly done well by being able to bring the horses home, but there was a definite need for improvements that weren’t going to occur on this rental property. Now, Kimberly is a very skilled rider, though I can think of a few times that I glanced out the kitchen window only to see our horse, Vander, jogging through the front yard with a freshly-emptied saddle. Fortunately my wife is intelligent, beautiful and durable.
Other events include horse escapes, which was the case with the most recent event. We were in the car and almost home from work, when we spotted our second horse, Skip, casually walking through a field beside the road. I immediately pulled over, and Kimberly hopped out of the car to grab the horse. Luckily, we had a halter in the trunk and weren’t too far from the house. Apparently, one of the old tobacco barns flanking our stalls had completely blown over and Skip responded by running right through his once well-reinforced and latched door. We weren’t going to assume that any future accidents would be so simply managed. The time had come to move on.
It was bittersweet to give our 30-day notice. Actually, the breakup with our landlord was far more sweet than bitter. We just found a new “perfect” place. It is also a large farmhouse. This one has 16 acres, multiple pastures, two new barns, a round pen and a riding ring. Any accidents at the new place will be fenced-in accidents. Fences might well make for better neighbors, but we’re far enough out in the country that we don’t really have any neighbors to speak of. We just want safer spaces for riders and horses.
I’m excited and positive that this new home will be better for all of us. Why am I excited, you ask? I am quitting my job to become a full-time stable boy. (I was never very stable before.) We are going to try to fill the new farm’s stalls with boarders. Besides, I’ll need any left-over time to write about everything that happens, right?
Jeremy Law and his wife, Kimberly, live on a small farm in Grifton, N.C., with their two cats, two dogs and two horses.
Read Jeremy’s other columns in EquiSearch’s Humor section.