Hailee Lance, 6, brushes her pony, Buddy, on Wednesday. (Vanessa Kahin Photo)
Just one year shy of the end of a five-year grace period she was given to get rid of her livestock, Pamela Rhodes had — albeit temporarily — acquired more animals.
Rhodes lives on four acres of land on Atkinson Avenue. In 2007, before a neighbor complained about the smell and the noise coming from her home, Rhodes kept horses and goats.
Horses are special to Rhodes, not only because family members have owned them but because her daughter, Hailee Lance, 6, seems to be especially gifted with them. Lance has helped tame several horses and trained her pony, Buddy. Lance is also involved with 4-H, which might help the little cowgirl pay for college some day.
“That’s going to be her future scholarship,” Rhodes said of Lance’s work with horses. “Without that I don’t know how she’s going to go to college.”
Unfortunately, Rhodes’ home is on the wrong side of Atkinson Avenue. Although she lives just blocks from the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds and is surrounded by county land, her home, which is on the west side of Atkinson Avenue, falls just within city limits where livestock is prohibited.
If Rhodes lived just across the street on the east side of Atkinson Avenue, she would not be selling her home in an attempt to keep the horses that mean so much to her and her daughter.
“We’ve been trying one and half years to sell this house, but the market is not good,” Rhodes said. “If we could keep (the livestock) we wouldn’t move.”
Before the neighbor’s complaint, Rhodes said she was unaware of the technicality that made her livestock illegal.
“Everyone around us had animals,” she said.
The Roswell City Council first considered Rhodes’ dilemma in 2007 and decided then to give her a five-year grace period to get rid of her horses and goats. She has since then sold her goats. A few weeks ago, another complaint was brought to the city about Rhodes — she had acquired at least two more horses.
“Two weeks ago, Animal Control came over and said, ‘these weren’t the original horses,’” she said.
Rhodes said a family member bought the new horses so Lance could work with them and see which, if any, she could use. Rhodes said Lance is at an age when she must try out different horses until she finds the one that suits her best.
“She’s had three horses, but she’s little,” Rhodes said of Lance. “She’s a beginning rider and it takes time. … (The horses) were never meant to stay the whole time.”
Rhodes and Lance did settle on a horse — a 3-year-old gelding named Maximum Dollar. At the moment, Maximum Dollar is at a friend’s house in Artesia.
Lance also has a pony named Buddy to care for, in addition to two other horses.
“She feeds them, she waters them,” Rhodes said. “To me, (having horses) is teaching her responsibility.” In turn, Rhodes said the horses “love (Lance) to death.”
For now, Rhodes hopes she can sell her home before May 2012, which is when the city’s grace period is up and she will be forced to get rid of all her livestock.