The boys are going to the back pasture today. The sun is warm on my back, and the weight of the halters and leads rests familiarly in my hand. Huckle comes over first and lowers his head into the straps. He leans into my hand as I fasten the supple leather crownpiece. I give him a scratch between his ears and look up at Sky. Impatient to conquer new grass, he is already standing at the gate. I watch the light shimmer over his slick coat while Huckle and I approach.
I have to work around the heavy mass of his mane to get his halter on. The riot of black and white hair makes adjustments difficult but not impossible. The poly ropes feel different in my hands now. They are alive with an indefinable connection. I open the gate and start up the small road, flanked by the spotted horses. The ropes remain draped lazily between us as we march uphill over the detritis of decades of fallen foliage. The slate beds beneath resonate with the tattoo of their footfalls like a primordial drum. The sun beams have found a new playground among the vermillion leaves of poplars and the dense needles of pine. Shadows scatter and regather on the path before us as a slight breeze picks up in the treetops.
Black and sorrel ears swivel in response to the rustle of the branches that wave in acknowledgement of the air currents. The geldings hesitate when they spot a puddle in the road, but then quicken their pace. The green expanse of the upper field has come into view. Apprehensions forgotten, they splash through and disrupt the clouds and sky reflected on the tiny waterbody. We pass through the gate, and I cue the horses to turn around. Their white-stockinged legs move in near unison as they face me. I unfasten their halters and they dangle, once more heavy and lifeless. The horses begin to work industriously on the grass that has grown since they were last here. I turn and leave them at the uppermost part of their diminutive kingdom.
Photo by Elaine Poulin