The early evening July air is heavy and hot. The fields and paddocks are empty of horses. Approaching the barn, Greta gave a welcoming nicker. She is the lead mare of the herd and her bright brown eyes said hello. Wednesday’s at the rescue tend to be solitary evenings. The dogs are inside. The horses are finishing supper. The hour is set aside for making a fuss over Geo. He gets Reiki with grooming, or as Vicky says, “all slicked up.” On the outside, he has a regal manner and graceful movement. Inside, he is still a playful little colt. He likes to paddle his hoof in the water trough leaving a sand pile in the bottom. He loves to toss his head and tease with his barn mate Rusty. If his stall door latch is not secured, out he will go trotting free in the barn and laughing as he dashes out the door. At nineteen, there is plenty of love and life in him.
Tonight, Winnie is at her new home and the stall is empty. Her companion Bandit, a chestnut pony with flaxen mane is all eyes looking for her. This little elf will join her soon. They came to the rescue in late March. Sunday barn volunteers, Liz and Lee started around the same time. I can still see the two horses that first week, laying in a big sunbeam in the blue round pen soaking in the warmth of the day. They were brought out of a difficult place and now rest in comfort. Lee has taken in Winnie and Liz has Shaker, an adoptee from the MSPCA at Nevins Farms in Methuen Mass. How all their lives have changed now!
Since early March, five horses have found new homes. Sunday is dedicated to volunteering at the barn. Thirty years ago, I made a neat living working on a private farm in New Jersey caretaking five horses for Miss Jane. I had a big bay Trakehner/Quarter Horse I called Ivanhoe. He taught me how accepting horses are of humans. They consent to domestication. We have formed a bond of mutual interaction over the centuries. Horses know they are remarkable creatures. They take care of the rider and keep us safe.
But wait, where is Zingra? She is gone to be a companion horse at a farm nearby. She may be adopted or return to the rescue. How Zingra beamed with quiet joy last Sunday when groomed by Bill and Marley. She will be missed this week. Doc, the big bay Quarter Horse gelding, is calling for his Zingra, they have been the best of friends. When it is time to come in for the night, he is the horse that is brought in first. What a spectacle to see him charging up to the gate. How impressive he is with his neck crested and powerful as his legs dance in a soft passage. This horse is 25 years old? It takes years to cultivate that kind of free movement under saddle. Here he is, collected from head to tail saying, I GO FIRST, I GO FIRST to the other horses.
So much happens in a day. The small things that make horses a force irresistible. I thought these days were behind me. Can I be strong again? Greta leads the herd with soft confidence, it is her confidence I must gain to be accepted. After five months of showing my worth, I took a step forward tonight.