Certain things were a "given" when we moved to the farm. It seemed that they all involved animals....and no one ever said a thing to me about any of them. The first one was cats. I am allergic to cats...easy out. Each time we saw a cute little kitten in the city, I reminded the boys that I was allergic. Once we got to the farm and met THE RAT, cats and kittens seemed to magically appear....they stayed outside, my allergies coped just fine and the rat population diminished.
Next was a German Shepherd. My oldest boy had always wanted a German Shepherd. I explained that it wasn't a great choice for a small city house on a small city lot. We settled for a poodle. I will say that my boy was not thrilled. When we settled in a bit at the farm, we found ourselves looking at German Shepherd puppies in the dark at a place I would call extremely questionable. Yes they were registered...(but my mind was screaming filthy! underfed! PROBLEMS!!). My boy was thrilled. Gentle suggestions about continuing to look fell on deaf ears. My boy had found HIS dog! I am so glad we listened to him. She was malnourished, filthy and wormy....he named her Doegee. The vet said her ears would never stand up - I ground calcium tablets and put them in everything she ate...her ears stand up! This girl puts Lassie to shame...I always know where my boys are...follow the dog. When my youngest was learning to walk and took a tumble...Doegee stood guard over him until he had help or managed to get on his feet again (usually using her fur to haul himself back up on his feet). She checks out all the visitors...I know when to be wary by the way that Doegee behaves....or doesn't :) I wish she would live forever!
Then came the big one....horses. "Of course you have horses when you live on a farm"..little voices made this proclamation. The loudest voice belonged to my oldest boy. Everything I had ever heard about horses involved great deals of money. Feed, vet bills, feed....I was very hesitant. But we ended up with a couple of horses. One named Dusty (because he always is) who appears to be a cross between a quarterhorse and a pony and the other is a registered Morgan Mare (now for sale!).
These animals have been the least expensive of them all. They are extremely easy keepers...they have only needed additional feed when snow covers the ground and there have been very few vet bills.
It was all worth it when I saw my oldest boy on the back of Dusty racing along the bottom of the ridge at the back of our farm...fast as he could go....just a flyin'...I knew that at that moment he was experiencing the fullfillment of a lifelong dream....and all I could do was to stand there with the tears rolling down my cheeks in gratefulness to God for the joy I knew my boy was experiencing at that moment.
Now the two younger boys are enjoying Dusty....Josiah rides as if he was born in a saddle...somhow that boy just becomes a part of the horse when he rides. This is the child that does all physical things well...the first time he tries them. He and Dusty become one...Josiah has no fear so they tear around the fields at high rates of speed...Josiah wears the biggest grin on his face when he rides!
Elijah is just beginning to enjoy riding. He is a little more cautious than his older brother. We have had him in the saddle since he was a toddler. One parent holding him on and the other leading the horse in a slow walk. He now thinks he is ready to ride alone in the coral....before I know it he'll be all over the farm.
My oldest boy likes to take Dusty all over our little valley. I am sure the younger boys won't be far behind.
This is one of the greatest pleasures my boys experience on our farm. There are many responsibilities involved in being a good steward of their horses. Before riding they need to be brushed out, perhaps their mane needs a trim, their hooves need to be picked out and if they are going to be on asphalt they need to be shod. During the ride they have to make sure they don't wind the horse, they need to give it access to fresh water on a hot day if it is a long ride...and then after the ride they need to check their hooves again, brush them out, and care for the saddle and tack....great lessons!
It also gives my boys a sense of freedom, of maturity and I believe a sense of manliness...just something about flying across a meadow...just you and your horse!
Yep, horses are like pocketknives, as my father-in-law would have said.... every boy needs one.