Saturday, March 13, 2010

Horse Cookies

I've always wanted to write about the ponies who live at the Barn where I ride. They are amazingly patient and kind and so full of personality. And most of them are rescued ponies, coming from sad, unknown, and better left unknown situations. I've yet to find the perfect story, but in honor of just sitting down and writing, in honor of making sure I'm writing something, here is something about the ponies.

Pickle and The Mighty Hercules

Rainy days at Ocean View Farm were quieter than normal. On rainy days the barn was gray and dark enough to keep the lights on. It was hard to tell what time it was, and to keep warm, everyone drank lots of warm coffee. But the air smelled wet and green and full, and the mist outside sat on the tops of the trees, like a sugar frosting. On rainy days the leaves looked shiny and silver, the puppies played in the puddles, panting, and the horses settled in their stalls, munching on their hay and rustling in the shavings, peeking outside every once in awhile, looking for the sun.

The day the ponies came was a rainy day. The silver trailer rattled up the stony driveway pulled by an ancient red pickup truck, rust decorating its edges. It rolled up to the blue barn doors and stopped. The man who stepped out looked just as ancient as his truck, except that deep wrinkles instead of rust rimmed his smile and his eyes. His hands were rough, and he wore overalls that had worn to the color of dirty.

He greeted us with a nod, and said “I have the littlin’s for ya.”

We stepped out into the drizzle to watch him pull down the ramp of the trailer. He walked up, and led two ponies out of the dark inside. One pony was black, the other a grayish roan: speckled, like someone shook cocoa and flour all over him. The black pony was bigger, with a kind eye and a shaggy coat, and the speckled pony was tiny and so scared that he looked like he would dig a hole and hide, if he could.

Holly went and put her hand out toward both ponies. The black one stood her ground and stared, but the little one jumped, startled. His head stayed high and his eye followed Holly as she ran her hand down his back. Both ponies looked like they hadn’t been brushed in weeks—they had little scars and nicks that seemed to speak of scary chases and snarling dogs, or barbed wire. Holly sighed, and said, “Looks like you’ve been in a pickle or two.”

And that night she named the black pony Pickle Lilly; Pickle in honor of the life she used to have, and Lilly in anticipation of her new life. But naming the tiny, scared pony was harder. She was just going to have to get to know him better.

The ponies spent that night and every night after that together, in a big stall heaped with cedar shavings and a few flakes of sweet hay. They smelled the wet, full air, took deep drinks from their fresh water, and munched on hay, peeking out the window every once and awhile, looking for the sun.

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