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I realized this morning, after using my hand to warm up the bolt snap on the paddock gate chain that I had married my horse.

The trick to opening up a frozen metal bolt snap is to take off your glove, which is keeping your hand warm, and wrap that comfy body part around the bone chilling metal until the snap mechanism can be released.

I learned this torturous routine last winter when it was below freezing for most of the winter and for the first time in my life I responsible for a horse. This was not like when I was growing up and mom and dad paid for the barn, supplies, food and the horses. This was me now as an adult, after we moved to a small farmstead property and Germaniac, aka “Manny”, the retired race horse, came to live with us three weeks after we moved in.

I Married My Horse

The impact of horse ownership didn’t hit me until I realized that from now on, every morning and every evening of my daily life I would be required to go out to the barn to feed the horse. That didn’t count for times during the day when I would muck the stall, groom him or just hang out.

We didn’t have running water in the barn last year, so that meant hauling buckets from the farmhouse to the barn twice a day until the summer when miraculously the water flowed once again. This winter we have water out there and a heater system set up to keep the water from freezing.

I realized this morning, after using my hand to warm up the bolt snap on the paddock gate chain that I had married my horse.

Do You Take This Horse

Owning horses is hard work. I knew that because I grew up with them. But when it is your very own horse that you love and are responsible for, the commitment is real. Like a marriage or long term relationship. Or having children to care for.

I didn’t understand this at first.

Now I know that my off track race horse, retired and adorable, is a life I must take care of, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, and while I don’t force him to obey me, we do work on “respect my space”, “don’t eat the barn” (he’s a cribber) and “no nipping”.

He puts up with me, just like my human husband does. He acts like a toddler, requiring toys to keep him entertained. He is highly intelligent. I learned to listen to him. We both have trust issues, which is the greatest lesson of all. We are partners and trust between us needed to be earned.

The Commitment

When my horse trainer and friend gave me the option of bringing this Thoroughbred, who is a rescue who came off the racetrack with a leg injury, to our new home, I knew I would not be the one to ride him, if he is ever ridden. He is prone to jump straight up into the air when a bird flies past him and is afraid of puddles of water. I loved him anyway and he needed a home.

It has taken a year to get his permission to be near him while he eats. Now he asks for me to rub his face and ears, whereas before his ears flattened back and there was no approaching him. The only horse here, he is always worried about his safety. We have to work on the 18th century barn, which is slowly being restored, and add on to the pasture, before we can bring in another horse.

A relationship works when there is time to get to know each other. I rushed into my relationship with this horse. A few months ago I felt I didn’t deserve him. Last winter I thanked every day that I didn’t screw up his care. I would march out to the barn in my barn boots and thick coat and wonder if he would still be alive when I got out there.

This is a horse who eats bagels and has a chicken named Houdini for a stall mate.

I chose my horse well.

Usability & Accessibility Specialist, Creative Vision Web Consulting; Speaker/Writer;

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