Casalae Farms’ stable usually has a ‘present’ for me to discover and unwrap. Whether small or big, each one gives me a more complete picture of The Way of Horses.
Here’s last Tuesday’s bright gift.
Bryn-dog and I had spent the morning at home in the garden, weeding, spreading manure, cutting the grass, and generally sprucing it up. Then, after she and I ran up and down Grand Traverse Bay getting g out the kinks I cooked us both a simple meal, settled her for a nap and drove to the Farm for my 1:00 lesson, the first one in a while, as working in the Secret garden has consumed almost every waking hour.
It was about 12:40 p.m.
I drove past the lovely winding fences to the parking area, noting with some surprise that nobody was about. Everyone had popped down the road for pizza. The sun bathed the Farm in light and warmth. There was very little wind. Swallows flew busily back and forth from their nests in the barn’s roof rafters, to the great outdoors, hunting tasty morsels for their chicks. (I’ve learned that barn swallows no sooner finish raising one brood than they often begin a second family. Though surely exhausted, they whizzed over my head, snatching insects on the wing, and still managing to gossip, and cheep the same cheerful songs as they stuffed their catches into their gaping chicks' beaks.)
Lots of horses were outside in their paddocks in small groups, standing or lying quietly, munching hay, or simply dozing in the spring’s gentle sun. I grabbed a large Red Delicious apple from the car seat, stuffed it into my coat pocket and trotted into the barn and straight down the long corridor to Menesson’s roomy stall. I’d offer it, then take him to the crosstie area to brush clean and saddle before my lesson- - But he wasn’t there.
For heaven’s sake, I’d driven right past him! His paddock, close to the long driveway, is lush and large, with a mature tree at its far corner under which he can stand and doze. He wasn’t that easy to pick out amid the white fence and white-bright sunlight. I ran outside, then paused near my car to search for him.
Under the tree, and on the other side of it, he dozed in its leafy shade.
The next thing that happened was strange- a sort of mental linkup?
One second after my eye found him he snapped awake and did a classic double take. His head jerked up; he lightning-scanned the area before suddenly returning to the spot where I stood, close to my car, easy to miss at first glance.
Aha! There she is!
He bolted toward me, neighing. (Had my scent wafted all that way?) Reaching the paddock gate (I was still rooted to the driveway 60 feet away, lost in admiration) he whinnied loudly again and galloped back and forth along the fence’s entire length, tail streaming, neck stretched high, or arching, mane flying...the very picture of power, speed and beauty. He’d stop on a dime, wheel around and take off again, neighing, snorting, dancer-light on his feet, perfectly balanced...
It was the most enchanting greeting I’ve ever had.
We reached the gate at the same time, and he pranced in place while nickering deep and low. Oh, God, he was stunning! I’d never seen Menesson move like that, had never heard him neigh, or make those gentler sounds, until then.
Anyone who has a beloved dog, or cherished children or grandchildren, knows all about joyfully effusive hellos.
I steadied the apple as he carefully bit into its polished perfection and unhurriedly munched each chunk. Not a single bit was dropped. (It was obvious that he’d rolled happily in damp earth at some point; I wouldn’t get him totally clean today, but hay, neither of us would mind.)
Six bites later he’d eaten it all. He foraged through my hair with his flexible lips, then nosed my nose, nibbled my ears and breathed deeply onto my face, smelling sweetly of apple. I stood there, eyes closed, grinning as he playfully rumpled my eyebrows.
Finally, reluctantly, I snapped on his lead rope. Together we walked back to the barn, his shod hooves rhythmically clip-clopping over its cement floor as we strode down the long aisle past the stalls to the crosstie area at the other end. We were a bit lesson-late, but unruffled by the barn clock’s stoic admonishment as it ticked off the time.
A very special box holds my special horse-related memories.
That Greeting is there.