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Posts Tagged ‘horses’

Back story: we stopped at a little brewery out in the country after we cut our Christmas tree last December. While we were there, three lovely women in jodhpurs came in to sit by the fire with us and chill. What are jodhpurs? Only the kind of pants one wears when riding “English” or huntseat on a horse. Their very presence said “horses nearby”. I happen to be incredibly horse crazy although I’ve only ridden western and I haven’t owned a horse for 18 years.

Flash forward to about a month ago, same place, but we were sitting with friends. “K” was lamenting how she wished she could smell horses in a barn again and how she’d passed a lovely looking barn/arena on the way to the brewery. And – serendipitously – two of the same women came wandering in to chill, wearing their riding clothes. I made the bold move of edging in on their table and introducing my friend. We had a great conversation about horse rescue, volunteer opportunities, and “just come to the barn to see the horses”. My friend has an autoimmune disease and I hoped this would be a great low-impact opportunity for her.

Sadly, she never followed through. On the other hand, I started following the rescue on Facebook: Arabian Horse Rescue & Education. I kept forgetting to call to see if I could come to take photos to use for artwork, but still – I was following them. The other day, they posted a shout out for volunteers to help bathe the horses and my husband suggested I follow up on it. I messaged the rescue to see if I could come in at the same time and take photos and the answer was “YES!”

I was there by 8:30 this morning, camera in hand. Most of my photos are sketch quality only – just general outlines of horses & horse heads.

Arabs are so inquisitive and have such unique faces that it is hard to not fall in love with their profiles. I tend to like other breeds more, but even I fall for these gorgeous dish-shaped heads and pointed ears. They’re around 14-15 hands, which is not a large animal in the horse world. Intelligent, loyal, and sometimes a bundle of nerves, these particular animals have come out of abusive situations and auction houses (where the other bidders are from the meat industry – in short, they were animals headed to slaughter for no more reason than someone decided they couldn’t keep the horse any longer or they never learned how to handle it in the first place.

I haven’t got to the best part – her name is Amirah and she has the same calm persona my horse did. I had a little Arab/Appy that we passed on to a friend when we moved into town with the understanding that I could come visit Whisper when I wanted to. They kept her a couple of years before giving her away to an unknown party and I have no idea what her fate was. It kills me.

Amirah is thirty-ish, the same age Whisper would be if she is still alive somewhere.

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This is how I met her. That battered old face hanging over the stall wall, just asking to have her ears scratched. She was waiting her turn to be groomed and bathed, calm, serene, and an absolute love.

She looks pretty amazing for an old girl, and a lot better than she looked when AHRE saved her.

I am fully, completely, irreversibly, in love. Best of all – she is so photographic!

I left after an hour, my hands smelling like horse (best smell in the world) and my heart full. I’ll go back. I’ll be donating to the upcoming gala to help fund the rescue. I am not in a position to own a horse right now, but I can foster one of these babies (or help foster). I feel like God opened the door for me to begin to understand what my mission here is truly about – at least partially.

I’m also very grateful to a husband who suggested I step out of my comfort zone, get up early, and just go.

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Jarbidge. Mahoney Ranger Station. 1957-1959.

Mahoney. Ma-HOE-nee. Irish. “Descendant of the Bear”

Jarbidge. Shoshone, probably. Tsahabits? Giant in the cave. Site of the last know Stage Coach Robbery.

The best mud pies can be made in a gravel drive as long as the fire crews aren’t expected any time soon. If there are fire crews, you can’t play in the driveway.

I liked to pick the rocks out and mix the white dust with the old rain water until I reached a moldable texture. It was all in the feel of the mud, cool and brown between my fingers. I picked wild yarrow and Queen Anne’s Lace and pulled the tiny florets off to mix into the “dough”. I didn’t know the flower’s names then, those came with age.The idea was to make the pies pretty, but the mud enveloped the florets and turned them an icky brown.

I wiped my hands on my top and looked around. If there was an adult watching, I was blissfully unaware. In retrospect – not in memory – my mother was probably by the picket fence, holding my infant sister, and watching. My brother was probably getting into trouble.

There was an empty pasture to the west of the parking lot. The barn to the north, with the corrals. Eastward, where the ridge came down and the aspens mixed with pines, there was a pair of pastures between parking lot and tree line. In the southern pasture, a lone horse was held. The palomino.

There was something wrong with the palomino, but I didn’t understand what. He was wild? Crazy? Hurt? Today, he was antsy, pacing his pasture and nickering. When I turned to watch him, he suddenly reared up onto his hind legs and pawed at the sky, whinnying loudly. Sunlight glinted off of his cream mane and tail. He reared a second time and then bucked a little in the grassy pasture.

I was delighted. He’d done this just for me. I clapped my hands and bobbed on my legs, “Pretty!” I had my very own Trigger, in my very own back yard, even if I was supposed to stay away from him!

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I looked around at the fetlocks and hooves. The smell of horse was overwhelming. Dust swirled around me. I was so happy.

Then I looked up.

Maybe it was the voice that prompted me to look up. There was a face in the little window of the barn loft, a face pale and ashen. It was shouting my name. I didn’t know who the face belonged to, but he sounded upset. I froze. Was I in trouble?

“The baby! The baby is in with the horses!”

Somehow, I knew I was in trouble.

Then I was not in with the horses and the memory disappears.

My father confirmed that yes, I did walk into the corral while they were feeding horses once. Yes, his heart stopped. Yes, he thought I would get kicked. It never occured to me or to the half-wild remuda that circled around me, fighting for hay.

I have a crooked middle finger on my left hand. I asked my mother about it once and she blinked. “I think it was the cow,” she said, quietly. We were both nursing a glass of wine. I was 17 and she was my best friend.

“The cow?”

She nodded. “I sat you down. We were watching them rope or something. I forget. We were so far away that I didn’t think about it, then the cow bolted. It came straight for you and I couldn’t get to you in time. It stepped on you. I think. I think it broke your finger.”

I don’t remember the cow. She swore I was no more than 6 months old. She didn’t know if my finger broke or not. Who took kids to the hospital from remote Jarbidge, Nevada?

Sometimes I wonder if the horse memory isn’t mixed up with the cow charging. But I could stand when I toddled through the horse corral and the fire crew freaked out. And I only remember the smell of horses, that wonderful hay-y smell of horses. Hooves, shoes, fetlocks, and dust.

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