Equine Fever: it's contagious

We own horses.

I would think this is pretty obvious judging by the fact that every third picture I put on Instagram seems to feature them. For awhile there, the photos were so frequent that I’m sure some of you were wondering if I still had Rinn or if he’d been part of the trade agreement when we bought Dakota and Atlas.

I assure you I would never trade my son for livestock.

But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had moments where I thought about it. You know when your kid tries to climb on your lap to cuddle and accidentally sticks their tiny, insanely sharp elbow into the meatiest part of your leg and the pain is so intense that you wonder if this is the end? That’s when I imagine my Craigslist ad reading:

“Looking for alpaca herd, willing to negotiate trade of handsome 6-year-old”.

That is not however, how we ended up with horses.

Two years ago, I spent a decent amount of time working with these creatures. And by decent amount, I’m talking 40-72 hours a week, depending on the season. There were days I would scream that I was going to quit and “NEVER RIDE A HORSE AGAIN.” Turns out I’m really good at making and then reneging on claims about never doing things again. Riding horses, getting married, not buying any clothes in 2019 (because it’s not even February and I might have already bought a hat.)

Turns out I missed riding, and more than that I missed their companionship. While I had never personally owned horses and I’m the furthest thing from an expert in equine care, I was sure I knew enough to keep one alive (even if it had to live on hugs and kisses until I figured out what I was doing.) For those of you shaking your head, know that I approached first-time motherhood in the same manner and Rinn seems to have turned out just fine.

Enter Dakota.

While Travis doesn’t give into my every whim (refer back to the herd of alpacas) he does try to make all of my realistic dreams come true. So when I told him I wanted a pony for my birthday he said “ok.” I have to remind myself of this when he doesn’t put his dirty laundry in the hamper.

“He bought you a f-ing horse…FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY...you can handle socks on the floor.”

Dakota was perfect. Affectionate, food-motivated, and tall-dark-and-handsome. Don’t worry, the irony there is not lost on me. Then, much as I predicted, Travis caught equestrian fever. And while Dakota might be tall he wasn’t quite tall enough. Have you met my husband?

He would try riding Dakota and the tips of his toes would’ve drug on the ground if he hadn’t been using my stirrup settings and Dakota always looked dangerously on the brink of falling over because of his top-heavy load. (Travis is going to accuse me of making a fat joke here and I’m going to have to caress him, softly tell him that people are beautiful in all shapes and sizes, that he’s not fat, and that he looks wonderful in his man body.)

Unfortunately Dakota was built for girl bodies or guys with girl bodies or child bodies, maybe even man bodies that aren’t 6 foot 3. But definitely not Travis’ body.

Enter Atlas.

Formerly known as Goop. Which if you ask me is kind of a terrible name for a horse. Especially this one. Not that I’ve always ridden horses with fantastic names. There was Spook. I mean, he was sweet but who wants to ride a horse named after the exact thing that you don’t want them to do. And Gator. Who was great but how confusing to be named an animal you aren’t and a mean animal at that. Oh and Amy. So maybe Amy isn’t a terrible name so much as Amy was just a terrible horse. To this day, I talk about that bitch with such disdain that people often assume I’m talking about a human girl named Amy and think I once had a really moody, lazy co-worker who ate their own poop. Which technically I did since Amy and I worked together but she was definitely a horse, not a human.

Let’s consider that one of my longest tangents to date.

Anyway, back to Atlas. He is big. And tall. Built more like a moose than a horse but not quite draft size so tacking and getting on him won’t require an experienced climber or the use of a trapeze. In a weird twist of fate, we didn’t have to go far to find a husband-safe horse built for a man body. Atlas was ALREADY LIVING AT THE STABLES WHERE WE BOARD DAKOTA!

I should clarify, at first we did go far. We scoured Facebook ads, auctions, had friends and friends of friends on the look out, even drove forty minutes to see one that turned out to be nuttier than squirrel shit; but then the universe intervened.

You see, Atlas was originally adopted by another boarder; believed to be lame, he was a former competitive jumper turned pasture pet. To be looked at and loved on but not ridden. Travis met Atlas while on a trip to visit Dakota: Atlas stuck his giant head out of his pen and rested it on Travis’ shoulder. Travis declared love at first sight and I told him it’s inappropriate to love another person’s significant other. Of course he did as Travis does and ignored convention. Him and Atlas would carry on a love affair for over a month. Travis would sneak off to the barn and generously give his new MISTERess treats, pets and undivided attention. I might have wished I had hooves at one point.

I remember quite clearly the way Travis looked at me when we got married; an expression of love, adoration, joy. I thought I was the luckiest lady in this hemisphere, maybe on Earth. I wish I were joking but when we got word that Atlas’ keeper was looking to unload him, Travis’ face lit up in much the same manner. Now whenever I hear Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” I think of Atlas.

I made a call and set up an appointment with the veterinarian for a once over. Remember that part where he tries to make all of my realistic dreams come true? I do the same, but I couldn’t justify paying board on what could potentially be a giant lawnmower. A push mower to be exact because all horses could technically be called “giant lawnmowers”. However, if we were going to take in a “giant lawnmower” at the very least it had to be a riding lawnmower.

Fate was on our side because Atlas was diagnosed with arthritis (aren’t we all) which is easily managed by wearing the right shoes and the occasional horse ibuprofen. Atlas and I have very similar self-care regimens.

The papers were signed and all was right in the world.

Well kind of, Rinn still needs his own horse…

in the meantime, Atlas has enough love to go around.

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