My travels take me to many islands where horses have found homes. The most common island is Long Island of New York. Other than it’s name, it is hard to realize that this highly populated strip of land connected by 3 huge bridges and several ferries is an island. Maybe I shouldn’t consider this as an island I visit worthy of this blog. It deserves its own blog with the amount of time I spend on it.
I am sitting on Orcas Island in the northwest United States as I write this. On the map I’m the blue dot. Home is the red dot. Can’t get much further and still be in the US.
This is a place where people get away from it all. It is a place where access form the population is limited and the cell phone signal waxes and wanes. In town there is everything you can desire and within a few miles you are in old forest. As I’m waiting for the ferry I met Minta. She was born and raised on the island though she has recently moved away off island. The horse owner I visited is third generation islander but she too is planning on moving to the mainland. Minta tells me that people here are like family where everyone takes care of each other, where time slows it’s pace, where people look at each other and converse without electronic interruptions. My client says simply, it’s quiet.
I’m not sure I like it. Everyone wears sandals (not flip flops) and is into nature, biking, hiking, camping and not horses. Definitely no cowboys. I am a fish out of water, but still I love this visit because it is so refreshing. I look forward to my return 6 months from now when the summer tourist are on the mainland and it is more like the home Minta describes. From what I saw today, it’s a nice place to visit but I might go crazy.
Another island I have worked on is Shelter Island in New York. It sits between the north and south forks of the eastern end of Long Island. Make a V with 2 fingers pointing to the side (facing east if you want). Shelter Island sits between these 2 fingers and the only way on is by either the north or the south ferry. I worked on a boarding barn there for years. After work the owner and all the barn help would go out to a local establishment for dinner and some drinking. Everyone on this island knew each other and I became part of this family, though briefly. The barn changed owners and I never returned. But it was fun.
The most interesting island I have worked on is Gardinier Island off the northeast tip of Long Island. It is one of the largest privately owned island in the US. The caretaker of the island was the third generation to do so. He expertly piloted his boat from my pickup point for the 30 minute boat trip. The very old horse lived in a field with access to the lower part of a two story brown wood barn. Upstairs was parked a brand new, fire engine red, H1 Humvee Hummer with all the modern day fire fighting equipment installed.
A tour of the island was offered by the caretaker which I gladly accepted. Pristine workmanship was being applied to the restoration of the out buildings with historically correct replacement of materials to things like the wooden eves troughs and downspouts. The mansion was in need of some work which was being planned. Stories from the caretaker included the burial of Captain Kidd’s treasure on the island as well as the posting of Army personnel to monitor incoming attacks from the enemies of Europe. All fascinating stuff with details on Wikipedia if you are interested.
The horse lived a wonderful life over the few years I was in charge of the teeth until he died of natural causes. Today’s visit reminded me of these islands where old horses and people live a very relaxed life. Enjoy the images I took today of the trip to Orcas Island, WA.