In the About Us blog post, I mentioned that there were several small things that led us to this property. It’s uncanny how the little “wants” that Brian and I talked about over 37 years of marriage were packaged in one miraculous gift – right here in this mountain-view log home. When I began writing, I thought I could describe these desires in one post, but because a story lies behind each one, it will take several tales. I hope you will enjoy marveling along with me and be encouraged that your dreams may come true for you someday!
The horses… Oh, how I have always loved horses! As a girl growing up in Southern California, it was my dream own one. My sister and I would go trail riding from the very few stables that offered old and unflappable mares who could dutifully circuit the familiar trail. Did we know much about riding? Well, we watched a lot of The Big Valley and Bonanza, so what else did we need to know? Actually, these horses knew our type. With their built-in timers, they knew the exact speed to give us a one-hour ride with an occasional trot for excitement. Looking back, I’m a bit amazed at that entire process! My parents would just drop us off for the afternoon. There were no waivers for anyone to sign – just an exchange of $15 per rider, two minutes of “Here’s how you mount, stay on the left side, and stay on the trail,” and then off we’d go! Times were very different in the 70s.
A couple of miles from my childhood home near a freeway overpass, there was a boarding stable. It was my hope that as an eleven-year-old, I could get a job mucking stalls and hopefully even curry the horses! Excitedly, I rode my bike down to the stable to apply for a job. It was hot and dusty, and the place seemed like a miniature ghost town. No one was in the ramshackle office, so I walked around the stalls patting the lonely horses and hoping that I could speak with someone about my plans. As I wandered around a corner of a low building, I came upon a bowl-legged figure in a cowboy hat. He was stooped over the fence near the freeway. “Hello!” I shouted, trying to make myself noticed above the roar of the incessant traffic. No response. “HELLO!” I shouted again – louder this time and then with my petition. “I’D LIKE TO GET A JOB MUCKING STALLS HERE AT THE STABLE.” The grizzled and haggard frame spun around and glared at me… with ONE eye! He only had ONE eye! I froze in horror. He looked as angry as Polyphemus, and he hobbled toward me with incredible speed. “Git out of here!” he yelled, raising a wiry arm menacingly. “Git! And don’t come back here!” I backed up in horror and desperately ran looking for my bike. “GIT!” he reiterated as he stamped after me. I wasn’t sure if he’d beat me or eat me, so I sped off toward home. That ended my career as a stable hand in Downey, California. I was initially terrified and then crushed. My one grand plan to be near horses disintegrated.
Brian on the other hand, grew up in NH on a dairy farm, and his sister too always wanted a horse. His parents sold the farm and built a home on five acres. It was easy for Tracy’s dream to come true – only Brian often had to do the chores and clean the stall. “It wasn’t MY horse,” he’d remember (still a little bitterly.) “And I NEVER want one! The only animals we’ll have will serve a purpose – and horses don’t give milk, or lay eggs, or make good hamburgers.” When we moved to Strafford, we had enough land to own a horse or two, but the kids and I knew there was no persuading their dad.
Then one year we got the best of both worlds. Our next-door neighbor (also named Brian) grew up in our previous home on 2nd Crown Point. When his parents sold the property, they subdivided eight acres, and Brian built an awesome little Post & Beam house on the adjoining lot. He is an amazing woodworker! Brian B. was a bachelor when we bought the place, and since our daughters’ room faced his property, our girls were always spying on him (poor guy!) Fortunately, we switched their rooms, and the boys weren’t interested in their neighbor at all – until Brian fell in love and got engaged. Kris, we learned, had two horses, and Brian built a beautiful barn to prepare for his new bride. That got everyone interested in watching! Kris moved in with two gorgeous horses: Maestro, a chestnut Halflinger, and Homer, a Belgian-Morgan Cross. We loved to watch them from our kitchen window – their golden coats shimmering in the afternoon sun and their flaxen manes blowing in the breeze. “Now these are MY kind of horses,” my Brian would say, “I can totally enjoy them, but not have to do the work.” My favorite memory was watching those two roll around in the snow. It amazed me how such large creatures would frisk around in the drifts – so like my children. Then in June 2020 a “For Sale” sign went up next door. Brian and Kris were selling their home and moving to Maine to build a new home next to his parents’ blueberry farm . They had instant offers and within a few short weeks, they were gone. As we sat at the kitchen table looking sadly at the empty pasture, my Brian sighed. “I really miss those two horses…”
Just three weeks later we stumbled upon this property formerly known as the Mahoosuc Inn. It was listed on Facebook as an “Equestrian Center”. Green pastures, a riding ring, nine stalls, a tack room, and a washroom were included. The day of our first visit, an athletic young woman was briefly introduced to us as we toured the barn. She leased the stalls, and we were told that we might consider keeping up her contract. Umm…wait a minute…there were horses grazing in the fields that we wouldn’t have to take care of??? Weren’t we just talking about this??? I began to count the horses. There were eight of them – and a donkey! I’ve loved donkeys ever since I was in the 4th grade when I went on a class trip to Knott’s Berry Farm. The highlight of that day was the burro ride. With their inquisitive personalities and humorous expressions, those burros absolutely delighted me! Times have changed however, and the only burro left at Knott’s now is Brutus. (Probably because no one had to sign waivers…) Anyways, back to 2020. I was suddenly reliving my 9-year-old giddiness. A donkey came with this property too!
On the ride home we had so much to talk about. “How crazy is that? We were JUST talking about missing Kris Bozack’s horses!”
“Sure, I’d lease the barn to that girl! We don’t have to clean up after them. I might need a tractor though.” (That’s a future blog post…)
It was this strange and wonderful coincidence – no, rather this strange and wonderful Providence that led us on this journey. Every day we get to watch these beautiful and majestic animals. If you ever chance to stay at The Inn at OxBow Acres, you will meet these equine angels. Dakota and Finn are the youngest pair and share a pasture. More than likely, these two will be the first horses that guests see upon entering the property. Dakota (the Paint) is owned by Lynn who also runs the Yokohama Restaurant in Gorham. He stays close to Finn (a Thoroughbred) as much as possible – until Finn starts kicking up his heels and racing around the fence line for the sheer joy of running. The only time Dakota will share Finn is when his owner, LeeAnn, works with him. Otherwise he will pine for his buddy.
Shannon the stunning Quarter Horse has a glistening red coat and belongs to Evie who comes every. single. day. Shannon is one lucky horse! No matter the weather or the season, Evie comes like clockwork to care for sweet Shannon. Then they ride for miles along the Androscoggin Valley trails. Someday, when things quiet down a bit, I will take Evie up on her offer to become her riding partner. She is an inspiration to me!
Moses (the Morgan featured in the heading photo) and Coyote (another white-socked Thoroughbred) are owned by Christina who leases the barn under her business Gale Force Kennel and Stables. All the horses are given the best of care as Christina faithfully comes at least twice a day. Each of her charges has a special diet, and Christina personally supervises their meals so they don’t steal each other’s grain. There is such a unique bond between these gentle giants and this accomplished equestrian. The barn is practically her second home! On weekends it’s like watching a horse show as she practices with Moses and Coyote. In fact, these two have earned many awards within the White Mountain Riding Club.
Cheyenne (the tan Quarter Horse) also belongs to Christina and is a striking mare. She’s Brian’s favorite because she’s so comely and calm. When my son and his family came to visit, my daughter-in-law was able to go on a trail ride Cheyenne. Exploring the hills and meadows on horseback is an incredible experience, and the weather could not have been better that lovely spring day!
Taz, an Appaloosa owned by Eileen, is Brian’s “other” favorite. “He looks like a horse you’d see in an old Western movie!” All the horses have unique personalities and quirks, and Taz definitely has his. On sunny days, he likes to hang out in the shade under the canvas-covered shelter – or just near the shelter to guard it. When others try to join him, he chases them off. But when it’s raining, does Taz go UNDER the cover? Nope. He’ll get wet, roll in the mud, and live his best soggy life ( adding a few more mud spots to his hindquarters.)
Lastly there’s the “Land Orca” – Shadowfax the Spotted Draft. Before Christina adopted them, Shadowfax and Donkey were pretty much left to fend for themselves in a field. They were an inseparable but loveable mess. (Imagine no proper diet, hoof care or grooming!) Shadowfax is gigantic – although all he eats is grass and hay. Each night these two trot into the same stall together to munch their hay. Donkey (that IS his name – Donkey) loves to try to rile up the other horses. He will chase and body-slam and bray at them until they will engage with him. But he doesn’t irk his giant buddy. They just meander around together like Gandalf and Frodo. Truly, Donkey is a halfling next to him! Shadowfax has a unique feature – he grows a mustache in the winter months. I’m not kidding – it’s a full out Castro-type mustache! I may have to get him a fedora and a cigar. I saved him for last because he is the horse I ride regularly. After waiting ALL these years, Christina instructs me each week, and Shadowfax is my steady and patient steed. He tolerates my mistakes like a true gentleman.
It took decades for me to realize my dream of being surrounded by horses. On the other hand, it only took weeks for Brian to once again enjoy horses without lifting a finger! We have the best of both worlds! And we weren’t even expecting it! It is a wonderful gift to daily observe these incredible creatures. Perhaps one day, I will eventually own one. For now, it’s just a marvel that this desire materialized for both of us. And it’s just one of many details that convinced us to invest in this home and The Inn at OxBow Acres. If you are looking for a peaceful fall getaway, book your next stay with us! You too can relax surrounded by our graceful equine friends, and you won’t have to lift a finger! Come experience the Fall Colors With Views of Horse Pastures and never give up on your dreams! They can come true when you least expect it!