Tuesday, January 3, 2012


For the last six and a half years my horse Sam has been my escape, my challenge, my sweet and spoiled horse.  One thing he has never been is my neighbor. 

When I bought him in 2005, I boarded him at a wonderful barn on Colorado's front range.  There, I reveled in the gorgeous surroundings and tried to trust in a happy ending for the two of us.  Tucked down a half mile long driveway off a country road, the barns perched on a rise at the edge of a pine forest.  On clear days, Pike's Peak was clearly visible from the outdoor arena.  But even when I couldn't see the mountains, it was just peaceful and glorious.

That barn was forty-five minutes from my home, and a few times the roads from me to him became impassable from snow and ice.  It was worth the inconvenience, though, for the excellent care and wonderful community of fellow horsemen.  Some of the best horses and horsemen in the region all shared arena space with Sam and me, and although I trained him myself, we were warmly welcomed and easily accepted.

The only reason I contemplated moving Sam was that I was moving to Texas to be with Cabbage. 

In May of 2007 I left Sam at our beloved barn, in the able care of the managers, and moved myself to Texas.  That was not easy for me to do, since I'm a no-man-left-behind kind of person, but it was the right choice for his well-being.  Once in Texas I quickly found the barn you've seen in all my pictures, and there Sam has lived since 2007.  Same stall, same paddock, same arenas.  Consistency is good for horses, and he had it. 

I struck gold a second time with that barn, sharing space with more wonderful and warm people, their hilarious horses, and finding that second home all horsemen need.  Having spent my adolescence in a barn teeming with lessons, students, and a busy atmosphere, there's nothing I like better than riding in a busy arena.

Lately, though, it seemed a burden to have one more stop at the end of each long day.  I couldn't carve out time to drive there to ride, or even brush Sam, if Cabbage was busy or the baby was napping or any number of small everyday obstacles.  And then there was the cost... Although the price was fair, it was very expensive to board Sam. 

Even Sam himself seemed to say it was time; in Colorado he was notorious for galloping wildly (and foolishly) through his pasture.  Over the past few years, though, he's mellowed and learned to be a bit wiser.  In talking with Cabbage I discovered that I really felt Sam could deal with our rocky, treed pastures.

I was still nervous.  Moving him meant taking us both out of our comfort zones, and I was worried the change might go badly or he might hurt himself.  And... there's no place to really ride on our little ranch.  We have land, yes, but it's peppered with rocks and studded with trees and cactus.  Cabbage has done a lot to clean it up but it's not as if there is an arena or open field- or even a good perimeter- to ride Sam along.  Oh, for the open grassiness of the ranch in Ocala!

Ok.  All misgivings aside, every argument weighed out, and each caution addressed, I realized that it was just time to bring Sammy home. 

I rubbed Sam's star and said "Will you come home and live with me?"  So on the last day of the year, Cabbage left with the trailer to bring home my horse.

Meanwhile, I rearranged our other four-legged friends.  Earlier, Cabbage had cleared the front junkyard pasture of some last-minute junk. (thank you, previous owners!) 

Cedar and Goldie were then turned out in that pasture.  It meant drama.  Crazy galloping and much drama.

And snorting.

They were foolish.  They were wild.  They were exuberant.  I described it to Cabbage later and said "That is what equine joy looks like."

Eventually (finally!) they settled a bit.

Junior was next.  Because of his colic surgery last summer and some slow healing at the incision site, he has been on stall rest for five months.  That's an extremely long time for any horse to be confined, but especially one so young and vibrant.

And that, my friends, is why he was sedated. 

Without some good drugs, Bro would have been nutso.  With some chemical help, he merely paced and hung out, trotted a little, watched the girls' antics from across the fence, and nibbled on some hay.  Pharmaceutical companies: holla!

Just as the sun dropped low, my husband and his precious cargo rounded the bend in the road outside Cabbage Ranch.

Hello, my horse.

Please stay here with me, and be happy.


  1. Katie! What a great story. I especially like the part about equine joy... Every time we rotate pastures with our horses and buffalo, they all do the same silly dance. I can't get enough. Best wishes in every single detail of adjustment. I have a feeling this will be the beginning of another fantastic chapter at Cabbage Ranch!

  2. How cool to have Sam come home. I can't wait to hear how much you love being closer to each other!


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