I live in a lovely home on about 1/2 an acre, smack-dab in the middle of quintessential suburbia. Our house is on a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood that's about 18 years old. Fortunately, the homes are not nearly as packed in as you'll find in many modern suburbs, and there is no model exactly like ours anywhere in sight. It's really very, very nice and I'm fortunate indeed to live here.
But the biggest selling point for me was the fact that there is a real, live, functioning HORSE BARN abutting our property! This would not be everyone's cup of tea but of course it was an automatic plus in my book. (It helped that I walked into the real estate office that day wearing riding clothes. The realtor knew she'd hit the jackpot with this customer, alright.). Here is the view from my kitchen window, on this extremely snowy day. We got almost 10," a blizzard by our standards:
The place must have started life as a dairy barn since that is a disused silo on the left. There's an outdoor ring in front, and a stall row between it and the taller building to the right, which is the indoor arena. Between the trees and the barn complex is their parking lot. A dressage ring lies off to the left; in the summer I can hear the trainer shouting at students.
Yes, I get to hear neighs and smell good barnyard smells every day in the summer, and at least get to see equines on a daily basis. How lucky is that... even if none of them actually belongs to me. Given its proximity, you'd think I would have taken lessons at this barn when I was doing that. Nope - they're mostly dressage. A few hardy souls actually jump, but the majority of the clientele are dressage folks (with a good proportion of divas). I am just not ready to pack it in and relegate myself to purely dressage. Futhermore, the owner of the barn is a right royal bee-yotch and I want nothing to do with her, other than being super-friendly when my dog happens to chase a cat into the barnyard. Such is her charming personality that I'm always scared she'll break out the .22 (dog's only done that a couple times in eight years, thank goodness).
You may wonder, how does this barn exist in the middle of a suburban neighborhood, anyway? I have been told it was grandfathered in since it was built many years ago, and the city fathers allowed to remain since our little burg started life being billed as a "resort community." (We have two gorgeous man-made lakes.) They could boast of having riding stables available, though trail rides were never offered, believe me. Around 50 horses are kept there on a total of five acres. Accordingly, turn out for most consists of a short sojourn in a dirt enclosure that's maybe 15' square. Woo-hoo, time to kick up your heels, guys! A lucky few get put in a couple of dinky grass pastures. Horse paradise, it is not... One time my dog startled a horse that was being hand-grazed. The owner shouted at me, "It's okay, he doesn't get out much." No, REALLY???
Ironically, the city rules governing my property specifically prohibit animal husbandry of any type. No cattle, goats, sheep, hogs, poultry, etc. or equines of any type are allowed. Are you surprised I have checked? We're not even allowed to have a fence unless there's a swimming pool (dog's is electric). So no home horse-keeping for me, no matter what (although I do have a very, very big garage...hmmm).
I also wanted to tell you about some of our neighbors when I was a kid. You know how I thought a horse would fit nicely in our backyard? Well, that's debatable, but guess what - these people nearby actually kept not one, but TWO equines in their yard, the same size as ours! I am not kidding. The poor things inhabited a small dirt paddock with a run-in shed. The neighbors had a trailer, so they loaded up the horse and the pony and took them to a stable where they rode the horse and the pony pulled a cart. What's really funny, is sometimes they would stake out the pony on their front yard so it could eat actual grass. We had a few visitors who pulled up at our house saying, "Gee, your neighbors sure do have an awfully big dog..."
As you can imagine, this just about killed yours truly. It did not help one bit that the equine's owner was a girl exactly my age. "But Daddy, Sandra has a horse and a pony in there. Why can't *I* have one??" I had to walk by this place every single day on the way home from the bus stop. Torture. It's too bad that said girl and I mutually despised each other (dating back to well before the horses arrived, but massive jealousy on my part did nothing to improve the situation), or I could have really been on to a good thing. You will learn more about this girl and I in a later post. Hint: It has something to do with that treasured blue ribbon displayed in my room...