California Riding Magazine • November, 2012

Horsey Humor:
Tennessee Dreamin'

by Bob Goddard

There is one thing for sure: this ain't just a hobby. Anyone who owns and rides horses is well aware of the commitment it takes to make it all work. The amount of time and money we spend on these animals takes it out of the realm of the hobbyist and all the way to the brink of a lifestyle. It goes over the brink the moment horses determine where we live. Or want to live.

Real estate looms large in the horse world. Open any horse publication and you are bound to find some kind of advertisement for acreage and homes. As an experiment, I went to my ginormous stack of equine publications and with the aid of a step stool, I yanked out four magazines at random. It took me all of 90 seconds to find real estate ads in each of them. It took me longer than that to clean up the mess I made when my ginormous stack of magazines tipped over into Violet's litter box and beyond.

There is just something about equestrian real estate that gets the wheels turning. Even innocent non-equestrian bystanders such as me are not immune to its charms. In one of the random magazines, I found a delightful two-page spread for an equestrian community called The Highlands at Big South Fork Tennessee. "Equestrian Living with Miles of Trails plus stunning Overlooks Nestled in the Gorgeous Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee," the ad said. Inset photos displayed secluded and luxurious log cabin type homes with adjacent open acreage for the horses.

Actually the ad found me. Just sort of reached out and grabbed me by my imagination. Visions of early morning rides in the crisp mountain air popped into my head and I started to whistle the theme from The Last of the Mohicans. There would be plenty of hiking and exploring, of course. From our deck, we would watch the sun set over the mountains and sip on a preferred beverage as the horses play in the pasture. If I ever have to place an ad in a magazine for anything, I'm going to hire the folks that did this one.

For a few moments, I was lost in the fantasy, whistling and dreaming, my entertainment needs totally satisfied. But as it always does, reality came busting in and broke up the reverie. In this case, reality came in the form of an angry cat who launched from the top my file cabinet and plunged like Bruce Willis in Die Hard directly on top of the Highlands at Big South Fork Tennessee. No doubt Violet was upset by the state of her litter box and couldn't understand for the world why anyone would leave a copy of The Chronicle of the Horse in her place of business. Honestly, it was just a mistake.

The drawback to real estate fantasies is that we don't have to consider the gritty, boring, grinding details of everyday life. At the real Highlands at Big South Fork Tennessee, I would still have to contend with this angry cat. I would still have to take out the garbage, cut the grass and pay the bills. I would still stub my toe, nurse hangovers created by too much of my preferred beverage and, of course, find a way to pay for it all. With Violet's rear firmly planted on the Highlands at Big South Fork Tennessee and her pawing at my nose, I did some quick calculations on the monthly payment necessary to keep the place. Looks like we're staying here, cat.

The Highlands at Big South Fork Tennessee may be out of reach for us, but that's okay. I recently read an article about a study done on the relationship between money and happiness. As it turns out, money can indeed buy happiness – to a point. Researchers found that the higher the income, the more likely people were to describe themselves as happy – that is, up to $75,000 annual income. After $75,000 people describe themselves as feeling more successful, but not necessarily happier than those in the $75,000 range. I'm guessing that after the basic creature comforts are accounted for, happiness depends on how you approach things.

So, I put the magazines away, toss The Chronicle in the garbage and scratch the back of Violet's neck as a peace offer. I grab a couple of apples and a beer from our fully stocked refrigerator and step out of our air conditioned house and stroll down to the fence line to spend a few minutes with my neighbor's Friesians. They're good looking horses.