I pulled up behind the barn and sighed, it was raining- again. That meant that riding was not going to be an option, but that didn't mean I couldn't enjoy the company of my horses. I pulled my raincoat out of the trunk and shrugged it on, I was going to need it.
I walked around the barn to the pasture, calling as I went, Butch and Rocky managed to beat my horses to the wooden gate so I had to open the wire gate to let my horses out. Gwen, who hates that gate, bolted through while Coriander followed at a sedate trot. After closing the gate, putting on their halters, and grabbing their leads, we headed out for a long graze.
As we headed away from the barn towards the trails, Gwen was full of excitement. Her ears were perked, her nostrils were flared, and she stepped out ahead of us in a floating trot. Coriander was all business, he followed behind us with his nose to the ground looking for food. After taking a quick pit-stop at the small patch of grass above the barn, where both horses immediately started tearing up the grass in big mouthfuls, we continued on to our final destination.
We passed the horse-eating canoe, crossed the raging ditch of mud, slogged through the marshes of pine tree trail, scrambled over the remains of a broken down rock wall, and finally arrived at the promised land: the hayfield next door. I kept a light hold on Coriander's lead, but knowing that Gwen won't leave her brother, I unclipped her and let her explore.
The bright green of the new grass shoots peeking through last year's dead stalks was the only spot of color in the landscape. The sky was a flat shade of gray, with no distinguishable features visible past the water streaming off my hood. As the horses ate, steam started to rise off their backs, mixing with the low-lying clouds. The smell of rain started to be overtaken by the sharp tang of freshly cropped grass.
While they ate, a pair of deer appeared: a doe and her yearling fawn. They looked at us, wagging their tails and trotting around uncomfortably while they assessed our threat level. Apparently satisfied, the doe trotted closer to us and lowered her head to graze, a few seconds later her yearling followed suit.
The horses continued to eat, happily munching away. Coriander would occasionally raise his head and ask for a treat, which I dutifully gave him. It's not good training, but since I've supplemented their treats with minerals they need, I want them to eat as much as possible. Gwen would eat, then walk off and survey the landscape. Then she'd turn around, come closer to us and start grazing again. Pretty soon she'd head off in another direction and get a good look around. I could see her gaining confidence in this new place every time she wandered away.
Gradually, their bellies started to fill while my fingers turned red from the cold. Icy water ran off my coat and down my legs, drenching my socks. After an hour, I declared that grazing in the hay field was finished for the day; then, while the rain continued to fall, we slowly made our way back to the barn.