Hillbilly Zen – Ponies on the Patio

When I was a kid, I had an imaginary stable of horses in one of my Granny’s flowerbeds.  There were horses of every conceivable color and breed, their names changing each day with the winds that swept the hilltop of our old homeplace.  They were perfect, requiring no food or maintenance of any kind, always ready for any adventure that a solitary child with a vivid imagination could dream up.  All I had to do was pick one from the “stalls” lined up in the beautiful deep purple iris beds that lined the fence in front of the house, saddle up and we were off to the far reaches of the farm, as fast as my pudgy little legs would carry me.  Scraggly scrub cedars became a dark, forbidding forest.  The large pile of moss-covered limestone remnants from an old rock fence was the perfect spot to converse with faeries and elves.  I pretended that the barn was a haunted castle (complete with very real cows that would occasionally emerge from the shadows to scare the peewaddin out of me).

Now I’m on a farm that reminds me of the one I grew up on, and I have three real horses that require real food and maintenance.  Lots and lots of maintenance.  Iris blooms don’t keep them in their stalls these days, and patching the dilapidated fence around their pasture is often an adventure in itself.

One repair mission in particular produced a surprising result.  Luckily, most of my neighbors are truly good people who alert me when there’s been a breakout, and sometimes even help capture the varmints.  A friend’s son was on his way home and noticed a large hole in the fence, my three hay burners investigating the gap with obvious mischief in mind.  He alerted his mom, who in turn sounded the alarm to me.  So it was that at midnight on a 20-degree winter evening I found myself ankle-deep in snow with wire cutters in one numb hand and a stubborn strand of barbed wire in the other, seriously questioning the benefits of horse ownership.

Hooves and Hammers

The three potential miscreants observed attentively, crowding in way too close and completely ignoring my irritated attempts to shoo them away.  Irritated is a gross understatement, and the printable gist of my grumbling was a caveat to my “helpers” that if they got knocked in the nose by a hammer it was their own darn fault.

It wasn’t until my grumpy muttering finally subsided that I began to notice the frigid tranquility of the night.  In the ensuing silence hooves and boots squeaked in the snow, interspersed by the crack of hammer against fence post that echoed like gunshots across the frozen field.  As anger’s heat dissipated, I began to feel the warmth of their bodies as they surrounded me, and appreciate their steamy puffs of breath as they peered over my shoulders.  Squinted grouchy eyes widened to see the brilliance of a full moon sprinkling diamonds across the snowdrifts, rivaled only by the crystalline clarity of the stars.  I was entranced, lingering even after the last strand of barbed wire was in place, just being present in that moment, trying to absorb such wondrous surroundings.  After planting frosty goodnight kisses on three soft muzzles, I drove back up to the house, musing on what I’d have missed if I’d have continued to feed my initial anger.  It’s extraordinary what our Creator sends us when we open our hearts and minds, and shut our mouths.

Equine Therapy

As I write this, my three red-legged devils are roaming loose in the yard, having escaped their pasture yet again to take up temporary residence with the dogs and cats.  Between working full time in town and more pressing chores on the farm, there just hasn’t been time to remedy the situation.  Truth be told, I’m dragging my heels a bit because I’ve grown to like having them so close.  There’s just something about having a conversation with a horse through the back door that makes me smile.

Some of their antics are not so endearing, true, but I love them just the same.  I love the way they smell when they’ve been warming themselves in the sun, and the calmness that envelops me while combing burrs from their manes and tails.  They listen patiently without judging as I recount the day’s events, commenting only with soft nickers and gentle nudges.  They don’t understand a word I’m saying, of course, but that doesn’t matter in the least.  They respond simply to the love they feel in my touch and the tone of my voice.  They also respond to the peppermints they get as treats when they hold still while being groomed, but mostly to the love thing.  Really.  It’s the love.

Even the mounds of “horse apples” that dot the yard (and the driveway – and the patio – and on one unforgettable occasion one of the cats, but that’s another story) are somehow comforting. They remind me of where I came from and where I am now, of childhood dreams that have come true.  If I don’t watch where I step they’re also a fragrant, squishy reminder to fix that fence.

 

Horse

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lovinchelle
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 14:26:32

    Very very cool. I know someone that keeps her horses out and they actually work as watchdogs lol. Thanks for sharing a lil insight into the great hillbillyzen

    Reply

    • hillbillyzen13
      Jan 11, 2013 @ 17:17:09

      Her horses are much smarter than mine, then. I love ’em, don’t get me wrong, but for a peppermint they’d tell a burglar where the silver is! Thanks for reading and commenting, If I was all that great, I’d have had that fence fixed by now😉

      Reply

  2. lovinchelle
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 14:28:48

    By the way. I was always Tarzan growing up and running through the woods

    Reply

  3. janna hill
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 19:39:49

    What a lovely image you created in telling this story. I could almost hear the crunching snow under hooves and boots. It must have been beautiful.

    Reply

    • hillbillyzen13
      Jan 11, 2013 @ 19:52:05

      Once I got over my little hissy fit, it was beautiful. Colder than a witch’s boob in a brass bra, but beautiful😉 Thanks for reading and commenting, Janna. Your encouragement is always appreciated.

      Reply

  4. Mustang.Koji
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 23:45:36

    So nicely told… Wonderful writing! I will also alert another horse lover; perhaps the two of your blogs will go hand in hand… Her ID is seapunk2!

    Reply

  5. seapunk2
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 00:21:54

    Thanks for stopping by! I enjoyed your post and look forward to more. 😀

    Reply

    • hillbillyzen13
      Jan 12, 2013 @ 01:53:02

      You’re most welcome, and thank you. Mustang.Koji referred me to your blog, and I’m so glad he did! I hope Amadeus is feeling better.

      Reply

      • seapunk2
        Jan 12, 2013 @ 11:51:32

        Actually, he is! (I think) He’s back to pinning his ears and being irritated that I’m not feeding him fast enough or standing near his hay, cleaning his space. !! He seems to be moving more normally now, FINALLY. I decided to try making my own ‘medicine’ which is in the form of a cookie. It includes flax meal, spirulina, oatmeal, pumpkin seed meal, raspberry leaves dried, and a few other goodies. I may spring for some CBisquit, as well, which includes bentonite clay.
        Oh, oh… I’m blogging on your blog. 😀

      • hillbillyzen13
        Jan 12, 2013 @ 14:31:11

        No worries – if it helps someone else with a horse that’s under the weather it’s all good. I’m so glad he’s feeling better – skritch him behind his ornery little ears for me, will you please?

  6. Russel Ray Photos
    Jan 22, 2013 @ 22:22:41

    Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while today. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as good as when I arrived. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks!

    Reply

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