Friday, February 1, 2008

Hank, and the History of Horses, Part 8

Hank came home on Independence Day, 2002. Symbolic or not, it's easy for me to remember.

I remember standing in the yard after we unloaded him. Just him and me. He was eating grass, looking around, eating more grass. I was standing there watching him, wondering What The Hell Did I Just Do. What level of dementia had I attained to decide to buy a horse? The real truth of it all was that I knew nothing about these big hairy animals, and who was I to assume I could take care of one? What huge responsibility had I just taken on, and worse yet, what would happen if I failed that responsibility.

I suffer from buyer's remorse. I enjoy having new stuff, but I go through a period of second guessing my decision to have the new stuff. Cars, trucks, lawn mowers; it's all the same. I wonder if I really needed it in the first place. I wonder if it was money well spent. I wonder if the previous item would have been good enough for a little while more. I don't think I looked at my new big screen tv for two weeks after we brought it home. Buying Hank caused a different type of buyer's remorse. It wasn't so much the expense of the purchase or the expense of the things to come (tack, boarding, vets...), but it was the worry if I could hold up my end of the deal.

A horse is not just a big grass eating dog. You can't just put them on pasture and throw some kibble at them every now and then. There are similarities in their care, but everything a horse needs is on a much grander scale than the needs of a dog. Food, shelter, and vet care are just the beginnings. Like dogs, they love attention, but you can't just stand in the pasture and throw a ball for them for ten minutes a day. They are working animals, and you have to give them a job to keep them occupied. Fetch is not a job. Whether it be riding or driving, a horse needs to be worked to keep it's mind sharp. Grooming, exercising, riding and basic care was staring me in the face and I wasn't too sure if I was ready for it.

Sure, we had horses for a couple of years before this, and I learned lots in that time, but having my own gave me a sense of responsibility that I hadn't felt before. This was A Big Deal. But we endured. I had to rearrange some of my priorities, but it wasn't tough. I had to rearrange my budget, but we made do. It was my job, from that day forward, to care for this big mass of muscle and bone. And it was going to be all right.

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