Before you get too excited, we’re not talking about Secretariat here. This is not a racing horse. It’s just, well, a horse. “Stormy” is a 12-year-old, standardbred, that has been residing at Dee’s barn in Dix Hills for the last few months. She’s a beautiful animal, bay in color with four white “socks,” a snip on her nose and a star on her forehead.
My wife has grown quite fond of her. She’s been taking riding lessons and caring for Stormy (and the other three horses) for a while now. It’s something that she has always wanted and she certainly deserves it. For more than 35 years, she’s put up with me and what I always wanted, that’s for sure.
There were season tickets and World Series games. I spent more than $2,000 to go to the 2013 All Star game with my boys. I’ve gone to hundreds of concerts and bought my share of baseball hats and T-shirts in my lifetime. And through all those years, I was always secretly hoping she would find something she could be passionate about. And now, that passion is a mare named Stormy.
As a kid, she always had a soft place in her heart for horses and, while dating, I went riding with her a few times. I admit, sitting on the back of a horse, riding through the peaceful countryside, is quite intoxicating. But if I had a bucket list, horse ownership would be way down at the bottom, just above sky diving.
Although my wife has always wanted to own a horse, like anything else, life just gets in the way sometimes. It took me almost 40 years to realize my dream of being a columnist, but I finally made it. Now, it’s her time.
To the untrained eye (like mine), horse ownership seems complicated. I guess it’s kind of like owning a boat without living on the water. You need a place to keep it when you’re not using it. Last time I looked, none of my neighbors had a horse barn in their backyard. I can’t say that I know what a horse eats, but after watching Seinfeld, I know not to feed it “Beef-A-Reeno.”
There is a lot of maintenance included when owning a horse. If you own a dog, you know the daily routine. You also know that the bigger the dog, the more it, well, let’s say, eats. Do I have to spell it out for you? Imagine a dog that is seven feet tall and weighs more than 2,000 pounds. At least you know your grass is going to be well-fertilized.
Stormy will reside at the barn with her friends Secret, Willow and Bewitched, where my wife will take care of her needs. There’s grooming, feeding, mucking (don’t ask) and exercising. Stormy is being trained to become a pleasure horse, which apparently is not a naturally developed talent. You just don’t strap on a saddle and yell, “giddy-up.”
When you think of horse owners, you think of royalty or the rich and famous. There’s the Wellingtons of East Hampton or the Howells from Gilligan’s Island. At the Kentucky Derby, you see meticulously dressed people wearing outrageous hats, with chauffeurs named Jeeves.
Does this mean I now must look the part? While checking my wardrobe, apparently, I don’t own a white suit, or a white hat. Will I have to get salmon-colored socks and wear loafers? Better invest in a good pair of binoculars to do some bird watching.
In our life together, I’ve never seen my wife happier. She is finally realizing her dream. I’m just glad she’s taking me along for the ride, even though I haven’t ridden a horse in more than 30 years. I’m looking forward to this new adventure, and unlike any of our friends, we may actually ride off into the proverbial sunset some day.
By Jove, I think I’ve spotted a yellow-bellied sapsucker. Oh Beauregard, bring the Bentley out front, will you? And Lovey, can you pour me another mint julep?