Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Grazing in the rain

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.


  1. I love this post. The simplest moments with horses are usually the most magical to me. Thank you for writing it.

  2. That's exactly how it felt, it was cold and miserable but wonderful at the same time.

  3. Your socks may have been soaked, but it was magical time spent with Gwen and Coriander. You were making a memory. :-) Nice to see that Gwen is becoming more confident.

  4. I left her loose for the walk back too, she kept running around and checking things out the whole way back. At one point she was staring and snorting at a stump and then three seconds later she was grazing next to it.

  5. How cool to have the deer that close... Despite the icky weather is sounds like everyone enjoyed the day.

  6. I love this post. I have been in your position many times. I try to imagine how much fun they are having and how comfortable with the rain and temperatures they are and ignore how cold and miserable I feel! Also, I have this desire to live in the UK so when it is green and misty and damp and cold and my fingers are raw, I pretend I am there and all the wet will translate to green, lovely pastures and flowers on the next sunny day.

    Coriander and Dawn are SO lucky to have you.

  7. I2P- I was surprised at those deer. They looked pretty agitated at first and then they decided to come closer! I think Coriander made them more comfortable. He's deer colored when he's wet.

    Juliette- I never thought of it that way but you're right, it was like being in the UK. I like the way you think :)

  8. sounds like the quality time with your horses (and those deer--how cool!) more than made up for the rain. i love days like that in the company of horses :-)

    and i also like what juliette said - i lived in scotland for a while, and have spent some time in ireland too, and those rainy, misty days here at the farm always take me back there. my little way of making otherwise miserable weather a little more bearable (and motivated! i try to remind myself that i wouldn't have made excuses and sat inside if i was still there - i'd be out with the horses! ;-)

  9. THIS is perfect!

    No matter what is going on in your world or the weather world..having horses to love, even standing in the cold, misty rains makes anything-cares or plans- melt away into enjoyable times spent filling the heart with the horse.
    Let plans get washed away in rain or sweapt away in the wind and cold..redeemed they are, as you stand near the furry warm of your horse!

    Never a moment is wasted near them!

  10. jme- the way I look at it they live outside in the stuff anyway so it doesn't make a difference to them. I only have to deal with those conditions for an hour or two, I can suck it up for that.

    allhorsestuff- for some reason your comment made me cry, it's so true!

  11. Even though it was a miserable rainy day you made the most of it. Can you imagine simply standing out in the rain if you didn't have a horse or two with you. People might send for the men with nets but the image it conjures in my mind is beautiful instead. A girl with her head bent and rain pouring off her watching as her horses heads are bent to grazing just seems like it would make a wonderful photograph. And of course it's always time well spent with our best friends.

  12. Horses are good for getting us out there in the elements--even when it rains. What a wonderful moment with them, and I bet they loved munching on the grass!

  13. I had to laugh when you mentioned the deer. I have a mare here that runs the deer off. She's not allowing those interlopers in any pasture she inhabits. Good thing Gwen has no such intentions towards them.

    Sounds like a nice hour spent with your horses.I find myself needing some of those quieter times for a change. High gear all the time is getting old.

  14. Such a well-written, beautifully-descriptive post!