“So hard to find my way, now that I'm all on my own...” Van Morrison
“Jayne, you could have let Peaches graze beside the barn after your ride, like you used to let Sportie,” my co-stablehand commented as I put the strawberry roan back in her clean box stall and hung up my tack. “She wouldn’t have taken off. She’s a homebody like he was.”
My eyes immediately filled with tears as they have every day since the end of August, when Sportie passed on, at the mention of his name.
“OK. I don’t have time today, I have to get going,” I lied, turning my head away because cowgirls only cry in front of their horses. The after-ride grazing ritual was just mine and Sportie’s. I didn’t have a connection with Peaches.
I usually ride in the mornings, but when I got to leave work early the next Wednesday I went out to squeeze a ride in before sunset. I had only ridden Peaches a couple of times and this was my first time getting her after turnout. I found her out in the pasture on the far side of a big, deep ditch with a few of her friends. I worried about leading her back through the ditch because she might try to jump it in a rush and then I could lose my hold on the lead rope, so I stopped 100 feet away. I called to her and patted my treats pocket as I had the last time I had worked with her. I hoped none of the other mares would know what that meant because I didn’t want a stampede.
Peaches immediately looked up at me, then looked down at the ditch and walked right through it to stand beside me. As I gave her a treat and a hug, for the first time in weeks the tears that came to my eyes were happy ones. We had connected! I know the treat was an added incentive, but I have also seen a lot of horses ignore their owner because they prefer grass and staying with their friends to a treat and working.
Peachie Girl and I had a peaceful ride with a fiery red sunset backdrop, and as dusk fell I sat on the grass beside the barn watching her graze. I got lost in her liquid brown eyes and knew this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.