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Horse Math and Wrong Turn Ranch 1.0

It wasn’t long after we had adopted our first two, then four, okay six, horses that we realized we needed a better long-term solution than boarding.

Before we got that far, I’d like to share what it’s like to have a horse for the non-initiated.

This is an excerpt from the book I’m currently writing.

Step 1: you have a crazy idea that spending time around other people’s horses makes you think you should have a horse of your own, so you scour the bulletin boards at the nearby feed store and you pour over Internet postings for a perfect bombproof-kid-safe-trail-friendly-not-too-young-but-for-sure-not-too-old horse and you hear about a pony that needs a home from the vet tech when just there for a routine checkup for your dog and eventually you decide to go meet a horse or two.

Step 2: the horse takes ownership of you. You fall in love. You decide you must be with it as often as possible. You notice that no horses live in your suburban neighborhood because it’s not zoned for horses. You find a relatively nearby facility that is, and you talk to the people who run the facility and you hope they will love and care for your horse as well as you could assuming you had the time and expertise to do so. You pay a small ransom every month for the privilege of being near your horse. You give your horse carrots and cookies because you love it so much and it is now officially the best thing ever and the best thing ever really likes carrots.

Step 3: you wonder why you’re driving all over town for horseback riding lessons to ride a horse that’s barely trained but will eventually get there, and wouldn’t it just be easier to rescue a horse or two that already has some miles on them and then your trainer can help you learn to ride on your own horse? Now you have three horses.

Step 4: you were boarding one horse but now you’re boarding three, and there will be at least one more who will eventually finish working with her trainer and move home, so that’s four and wouldn’t it just be easier to move to a new house that’s zoned for horses?

Step 5: you make a list of the ideal criteria for a home with horses, not only the facilities, but what it feels like to be there and wouldn’t it be lovely to find one with white fences and rose bushes and a basketball hoop and a house big enough for your family and visitors and enough space for all of your horses to live in pastures but also room for stalls, a barn, and a wash rack with hot and cold running water and you write that all on a very important list in a notebook you put somewhere but can no longer find.

Step 6: you look at homes zoned for horses and realize that to live with horses in Los Angeles means that either you will have to win the lottery, possibly more than once, or you’ll live rurally and you won’t have the same access to clients that support your businesses or WiFi or sushi bars or dry cleaners or the award-winning high school you dreamed of for your kids and speaking of what about their friends since preschool … and wouldn’t it be easier, or at least better, to not live with your horse(s)?

Step 7: you become really good friends with your horse trainer that lives an hour away, and you begin to think wouldn’t it be easier and even more amazing if your trainer/friend was living and working with all of your horses all of the time and wouldn’t it make more sense to consolidate horses and trainers and locations and not have to split time between home and Topanga Canyon and Palmdale?

Step 8:  you locate a property for rent that could work for you and for your trainer and her husband and not be too far away from home and be able to accommodate your now six horses because three horses with one in training, plus a baby horse who needed a home after she’d been abandoned tied to a neighbor’s fence near your trainer the day before you were going to visit and then there was that dream horse who followed you across the pasture and wow, horse math is funny.

Step 9:  you make an offer on the property, and the owners say yes, right before they say no and counter offer with something even crazier than having any horses at all, so you write an impassioned letter explaining your vision, and why horses, and why your trainer, and why this particular property, and why horses in Los Angeles…and it’s still a no.

Step 10: you think “outside the box” as if having horses in Los Angeles because horses help heal people even if you’re not riding them (and especially if you’re not riding them) wasn’t outside the box enough, and you visit a property in Santa Ynez, 100 miles from your home, because you love Santa Ynez and you go to Santa Ynez all the time because it’s quaint and charming and sweet and one of your favorite restaurants is there and the local Pinot Noirs are delicious, and you find out that the owner of the rental property 100 miles away actually lives a few miles away from you in town and his kids went to the same tiny school as yours and by the end of the month you are moving your horses and your trainer’s horses and other horses she is training to Santa Ynez.

Step 11: you sit on the balcony of your ranch house one weekend morning while working on a project and you flip open to a page of your notebook while gazing at the rose bushes behind the white fence right next to the basketball hoop and notice that the house you dreamed of and wrote down is precisely where you are sitting right now.

At least that’s how it worked for us.

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