We have a horse. Her name is Misty.
Our daughter has been interested, no, in love with, horses since the age of four when we took her to the petting zoo. I never loved horses as a child and have zero experience with them as an adult. Hank never loved horses as a child, but has some experience and a lot of pluck as an adult. And our son, I'm not exaggerating when I say he is horribly allergic to them. But our daughter, the Rancher as we call her now, is calm, quiet, disciplined and persistent. This experience is just what she needs to build her self-confidence and take her responsibility to the next level (she was in charge of the chicks all summer). I imagine that coming out the other side of this, we'll find a mature young lady in our house.
Over the past years of horse-getting discussions, Hank and I had impressed upon our little Rancher the amount of responsibility required by a horse. We'd talked at length about the before and after school chores, the worry of making enough hay and having enough pasture, the potential health problems, the overall costs and the simple fact that we didn't know much about owning a horse. In fact, we'd done such an effective job of drilling this, that when the Inevitable came, our Rancher was almost afraid to be excited, the thoughts of all those forthcoming responsibilities weighing heavy on her small shoulders. It took a couple of days before Reality really sunk in, and our daughter realized that Misty was hers, not only her responsibility, but also her joy.
Hank has taken the reins (harhar!) on this inevitable Homestead Experiment. He's put in the time, done the reading and sets his own To Do list aside when the little Rancher comes struggling around the corner with the saddle. He knows how much this means to her, and their relationship grows stronger every day as together they work with Misty. It reminds me how blessed I am to have such a husband, such a family, such a Life that can afford these simple joys. Simple joys that took us on a family trip to the new Tractor Supply store where we ogled over the pretty halters and matching ropes. Simple joys that led to an entrepreneurial discussion on how to market Misty's manure as the "world's best compost" (while we were shoveling it). Simple joys that will involve the sewing of saddle pads and quilted blankets. As with any new undertaking, Misty seems to have momentarily permeated all aspects on the Homestead.
Right now our goal is to fatten Misty up a little before Winter and, of course, learn the ins and outs of the equine species. At the Homestead, our animals well-being is our topmost priority. We aren't in the business of winning ribbons or breeding for perfection or even making money. We raise animals for our own enjoyment and our own sustainability. We strive to ensure that they have the best lives they can, with minimal stress and maximum affection. So it appears that this Fall the sheep have a little more competition for hay and pasture, but as with most deals made over the fence line, I think the Shepherdess and the Rancher can work out something mutually beneficial. I'll be sure to post updates on Misty, and I would love to hear your advice for a confessed Newbie!