Please don’t get the wrong idea when I say “live with.” I don’t live in a tent with flaps in the doors (so the sandstorms don’t blow in) and oriental carpets on the sand, sharing my fire with my husband and two horses, all of us within kicking range—although I’ve read about desert nomads who do something similar. Is the world still empty enough that nomads live in it who have no true home, just the horses they ride and the folded tents those horses (or maybe they have camels, too) carry?
When I talk or write about the horses I “live with,” I mean the horses I share property with. I’ve only lived with five horses, and right now I’m living with two—Prim, my beloved old mare, and Gunsmoke, her friend (or her boyfriend—her hormones sometimes get in the way of her vision), my first rescue horse. Having two horses must be what having quadruplets is like—although granted, I don’t have the stamina I did when I was in my twenties. Or the speed. So maybe having two horses is more like having twins. But somehow, the amount of manure I clean up each day is more than double what it was when Prim was an only child, and Gunner is a pig. By that I mean Prim doesn’t poop near where she eats. He poops anyplace, and then yanks hay out of the feeder that falls on top of it, and eats the hay. But then, he was half-starved when I rescued him, so I guess it’s understandable. (I also saw him eating his own poop one day. At least he’s stopped doing that!)
And somehow—now that I’m not in my 20s anymore—the amount of time I spend on mucking out twice a day, feeding twice a day, turning both of them out and brushing them both, swallows up an entire afternoon. Okay, so it’s dark by 4:30 p.m., but hey—the days are slowly getting longer. (Let’s hear it for the winter solstice!)
Please understand that I’m not complaining. I do ride these horses, under certain conditions—certainly not on a daily basis, or I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. But even if I didn’t, I would still keep them and love them and look after them—with the help of my veterinarian and my shoer, of course. As I said: I live with them. They’re family.