Who needs a guard dog when you can use a horse instead? 15 hands and 33 years old, he’s definitely not your average guard animal. He is pretty scary to the UPS man when he comes trotting at him looking for grain.
But we don’t usually have horses wandering around our yard. After we built electric fence last week, our horses were limited to eating off the round bale. Being so old, the other three horses aren’t very good at sharing the hay with Barney, and he isn’t very good at eating it when he gets some. So until the grass gets a little longer, Barney is stuck being our guard dog munching on the front yard (he goes back with the other horses at night though).
Barney has been a part of our family for almost ten years. Back then, I was one of those horse crazy kids that had to have a horse NOW. By chance, a guy at my dad’s work was headed to Alaska for six months and needed a temporary home for his horse and mule. So I got a horse for me and a mule for my riding buddy (or whoever I could con into riding with me). But at the end of the six months my nine year old world ended, and Barney and Ruby (the mule) had to go home. Six months later they came back as their owner headed to back Alaska and they haven’t left since (probably cause they didn’t have the heart to take them away from me again).
Barney wasn’t just my first horse. He basically taught me to ride. Granted, I had been taking horse lessons at B and B Farms for a year or two but that was riding in an arena. Barney taught me the ins and outs of owning your own horse. But most of all, Barney helped me find my passion- barrel racing. As my first barrel horse, he won my first rodeo and put up with me as I learned the ropes.
But just like every good guard animal Barney is getting old, really old. And it’s coming to that time in an animal’s life where the owner has to make a hard decision. For now, Barney is perfectly content munching on the yard, but when winter rolls around again, it may be a different story. How am I supposed to make that tough decision?
“Are you going home again?” Every Thursday, my day is full of the same question, and of course, the answer is always yes. Most people don’t know why I go home each weekend, but for me the answer is simple. On Sunday, I rode my horse, Rowdy, with my barrel horse, Chex, ponied beside me. As I loped around the field, the answer was easy. I go home because I love the simple things in life. I like driving home on a two lane back road with good music in the background. I like coming down our driveway and seeing horses on one side and cows on the other. I like painting our pulling tractor on a Sunday, splitting wood on a Saturday, eating a homemade supper on a Friday night. I love the smell of hay as we feed our cows and the sounds my horses make when it’s feeding time.
Thinking about all the simple things made me think of where I would be without my farming background. I wouldn’t have any hobbies, responsibilities, or anything to do in my free time. I wouldn’t have horses or cows, and I wouldn’t know how to drive a tractor or a truck and trailer. I wouldn’t have the fun memories of fishing and swimming in the pond or sledding behind the four wheeler. But most of all, I wouldn’t have the friends and family that share the same experiences with me. Basically I wouldn’t have a life!
Going to college made me realize that my heart would always be in the agricultural industry. It also made me slow down and enjoy the simple things of life. Even though, I may change my mind about what I want to do with my life, I know it will always be centered around the simple things.