Yesterday we had a very cool, very windy spring day. I went out to the barn in the afternoon thinking I might ride both Cody and Keil Bay, but when I got to grooming, realized I probably wouldn't get to the riding part. Keil Bay had gotten into something (probably pine sap?) that had dried in hard streaks along his back, right in the saddle area. There was no brushing it out. It was cool enough and their fur was puffy enough, that I decided a bath wasn't going to work. I put the kettle on in the feed room to heat up some water so I could spot clean him.
Meanwhile I continued grooming and found that his
slightly swollen sheath was coming from a very badly placed tick that
had latched on and in fact dug in pretty deep. I got out the tea tree
sheath cleaner and when I had a big bucket of nice warm water I went to
work. Keil Bay had by this time moved from the big barnyard over to what
we call the grass paddock. The wind was whipping, Bear Corgi was
barking at the Big Bay, and the rest of the herd were crashing around in
the woods' edge sounding like elephants on the move.
Keil Bay, without lead line or even halter, just stood there so I could
get that tick removed and get him cleaned up. It took a few minutes to
get the tick, and the contortions I had to make to actually get my
fingers on that tick in that very delicate part of his body would not be
fit to post here even if I had the photo. I said out loud, "Keil, there
aren't many horses who would stand here and let me do this, and maybe
none I would trust enough to do it to." A few moments later I got the
tick, finished cleaning, and then went to make another bucket of clean
warm water. Keil Bay stood right there in the grass paddock and waited
for me so I could rinse him off.
By the time I finished
this I decided to go ahead and groom him completely, then move on to
Salina and the rest of the herd. The wind was whipping and they were all
happy to stay in the barnyard - they had chosen to stay there all
morning while I did barn chores, never venturing through the gates I'd
left open so they could go to the pasture if they wanted to. I went
through the entire grooming routine with Keil and decided to go ahead
and brush his tail out. I don't do this every time, but when I do it, I
really enjoy it. We walked together around the grass paddock, grazing
And suddenly as I got to the middle of his
tail and brushed out that last coiled piece I found it: one long pure
silver corkscrew curl hair. I couldn't believe it. I have one of those
myself, on the right side of my head, near my right ear. I found mine
awhile back and named it my wild senior hair, making it something
special, a sort of private metaphor for age and experience with a
young-in-spirit crazy streak to boot.
Keil Bay has one
too! I wasn't surprised, as he and I share a lot of chiropractic
outages, we have the same homeopathic constitutional, etc. Now we both
had secret wild hairs. Perfect.
I went on to groom Salina.
She came and stood by the barn doors on the big barnyard side so she
could keep her eye on everything the herd did. She planted herself there
and rested easily - they couldn't leave the area unless they walked
right by her. Salina had no ticks but an old bite that itched a bit, so I
rubbed if for her. I decided to brush out her tail too. Lo and behold,
in the middle of her black tail, there was a long, silver corkscrew
hair. Now we have a Secret Society of Seniors on November Hill!
I laughed and said this to Salina. She didn't seem to be amused, at least not as much as I was about this revelation.
on I had finished grooming and decided to take a break. I made a mug of
blackberry tea and dragged a chair to the barnyard. I started reading
Jane Savoie's book version of her Happy Horse course and was thinking
about what I might do with Cody next ride. I was juggling the mug, a
pencil, a notebook, and Jane's book, and was soon joined by Rafer
Johnson, who gazed at my tea and then at me, bringing his sweet donkey
eye closer and closer to mine as if he were trying hard to tell me
something. Well, of course he was - he wanted that tea!
all he wanted was to smell it, so when it cooled enough that no one
would get burned if it spilled, I let him have a long, deep whiff.
Redford came over and tried to intervene but was quickly told to leave
by Rafer. Salina came over, and to my surprise, she walked around behind
me and hung her head over my left shoulder, just touching me with her
muzzle, and stayed there. I let her have a nice whiff of the tea and
then resumed my reading. Rafer's kind eye on my right, Salina's empty
eye on my left (which meant her good eye was to the outside, so she
could keep it open to anything that might happen along), and the rest of
the herd were in front of us, eating hay and glancing over
The temperature had started to drop (we actually got down to
freezing last night) and suddenly I had a glimpse into the future.
Sometimes I wonder what it will be like when I'm older with all these
equines, and I wonder what the days will be like without my daughter
helping with chores. I didn't get to everything I wanted to do
yesterday, but once I let go of trying to do it all, I had a wonderful
time doing the things I managed to get done. And sitting with a cup of
tea and a happy herd was something I did more as a whim than a need -
but one day I'll need to take those breaks and I was very happy to
realize that the breaks could be as good as - or better than - the sense
of accomplishment when everything gets checked off my list, and even
better than a good ride.
I thought about long days at the barn and brushing out tails and
wondered if a painted pony with a white tail gets a silver senior
corkscrew hair or not. How about a chestnut QH? And the donkeys? Will
they get them too?
At some point my secret senior society will get new members, and
although Salina might not be with us when that happens, I'll always
remember the day I sat and we traveled ahead in time together, Salina at
my left shoulder, Rafer Johnson at the other, reading about happy
horses learning dressage, enjoying the aroma of blackberry tea, all the
herd in our sight line, all safe, all happy.