Have you ever noticed that horses and other animals make great ice breakers in meeting new people? Babies, too, but for us, it’s really been Bug, my wonder horse, who has helped us get to know the other people who live in our neighborhood.
We live in an area that seems like the country while being close to town. It is not zoned to exclude livestock, so when we purchased Bug, we decided to build a barn and keep her at home. The barn went up with no problem, we fenced in a nice paddock, we were ready to bring her home.
The real issue, that became an opportunity, was how to exercise her? Housing, got it. Exercise? Hmmmm. Walking Bug through the woods was nice, but unsafe if it was windy, slippery from rain, or if it was hunting season. In addition, I wanted a trail to follow when I was riding, instead of fighting my way through the woods all the time. Just up the road from our house, there was a nice path around a family cemetery. We needed to get permission before we used the area, which required finding out who we needed to ask.
After making several calls, we deduced that the people who could give us permission lived just a few houses down. We immediately got in touch with them and told them our situation. They were very kind and said it would be fine to exercise Bug around the perimeter of the cemetery as long as we cleaned up any messes. Then another issue arose: how were we going to get past the Rottweiler that guarded the house in between ours and the cemetery? After a long talk with those neighbors we agreed to call whenever I was planning on walking Bug to the cemetery, and they would make sure their dog was inside.
Meeting one set of neighbors also led to meeting other neighbors. We don’t have much grass in Bug’s paddock. The folks with the Rottweiler suggested we get in touch with the man who owned the huge field across from us. I wrote a letter and within a few days, the owner called and said that he would love for us to use the field since it wasn’t getting much use anyway. I thanked him and told him we would put up temporary fencing and make sure we kept the pasture neat.
Dealing with the issues of caring for Bug in an area close to town is working out better than we could have hoped, and has brought wonderful opportunities for friendship. Bug gets exercise, which is great, and my mom and I get to make new friends, too. Getting to know our neighbors has been, and continues to be, an amazing experience. It’s nice to talk to them, hear their stories, and share tips and opinions with each other. We have lived here over nine years, and are just getting to really know them with the help of Bug, my friendship horse.
Who do you meet when you’re out riding?