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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.

The distance of my commute.

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.

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  1. It was very nice to meet you on the ferry from Orcas. I’ve had a great time reading your blogs. Thank you for sharing your education and experience. I’m learning a lot. – Gwen

    1. Thanks Gwen – I’m at SeaTac today heading to the New England area for work this week. The nutrition course is launching this week and the dentistry short course is moving the the University site by the end of this month. I am adding 2 more courses: “The Ten Irrefutable Laws Of Horsemanship” and “The Physics Behind Soundness.” Please consider becoming a member of The Horse’s Advocate:

      Good luck finding a new farm in the area. Doc T

  2. Hi Geoff! Thanks for the pleasure of your words and the beauty of your pictures. I almost feel like I was there with you. As horses are special beings, islands are special places. The air is different, the light is different, time is different; living within a tidal zone is fundamentally different. They are magical places to visit and to live. Thanks for sharing your island vignettes.

  3. Always love your stories and photography. Felt like I was there seeing through your eyes. Looking forward to more continued travels with you.

  4. It’s so awesome that you can travel all over the country doing what you do so well and still come home to take care of all your clients in south Florida. Thank you and safe travels!

  5. Thanks, Doc, for sharing! Small world. My sister’s in-laws owned a hotel on Orcas some years ago. We traveled there back in 1998 (?) to attend my sister’s wedding. It was so beautiful. Like your choice of Sesame Blues, too!

  6. Beautiful Geoff I have seen these islands, it’s the near constant rain that makes this part of WA state so beautiful. My sister lived on Whidbey Island for over 20 years. The mountains look unbelievable if you happen to catch them out. They also have beautiful hay fields in the summer. So glad you took this trip and shared your wonderful stories with us ” Dr. Herriot ” all the best.

    Judy Dalal

  7. What a beautiful Place. So lucky you get to travel all over our wonderful Country and meet all kinds. Too Funny with your lunch and Blue Chips! Gotta love Doc!! Stay Safe and have a great 4th

  8. Hey Doctor Tucker. I lived in northwest Oregon as a kid. That part of the country is breathtaking, but I was so happy to get out of the wet stuff. Seemed to rain 9 months of the year. I used to joke that my horse was going to have webbed feet! As a kid I assumed all beaches were like the Oregon/Washington beaches with gorgeous mountains and a beautiful ocean. You can imagine my shock when we moved to Louisiana and friends took me to the beach in Biloxi, MS, LOL! The pacific northwest is a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t trade our mild winters that allow us to ride 12 months of the year here in Louisiana. You take care, be safe, and can’t wait to see you in January 2018.
    Carol Pecot
    Amite, LA

  9. Hi ‘Dr. T’,
    Very Interesting reading about your trip to Orcas Island. I am a client of yours and live on Long Island, but I have been to Orcas Island several years ago. A childhood friend of mine was married to a Native American on that island and I invited. The groom is part of the Lummi Tribe whose ancestors were the early settlers of Orcas Island, if I have my facts correct. I am sure you can imagine the effect of the setting, overlooking the water and distant islands from several hundred feet at that side of the island, and the mystical feel of that special place. Combine that with drumming by some of the tribal members and the Lummi wedding ceremony, it was truly the most memorable wedding I have attended. Unbelievable beauty.
    Marilyn Locke

  10. Thanks for the post + pix, Dr. T. I think I might go crazy on Orcas too, but it is beautiful. We’ve been to Bainbridge nearby. Years ago when we lived in NYC we visited Shelter Island. Didn’t know there were any equine residents. My parents retired to Eleuthera in the Bahamas, it’s an island I visited regularly over more than 40 years. There is an old polo field on the island from the days before independence from Britain, and old timers who grew up there used to tell me stories about when horses were their only means of transportation up and down the island which is 100 miles long but very skinny. There is definitely a chill factor with islands;)