It had been a long week, and we were looking forward to the short pause we try to give ourselves before another week gets under way. I put out the last hay of the day at dusk, looking forward to going inside for my own dinner. When I went into the house, though, my husband was dressed in fresh clothes ready to head out the door. “Search and rescue,” he said.
The night ended up being very short; organizing the search for the next day delayed bed time by several hours. Then it was an early start; I took my husband to the firehouse at 6:30am, from where he left to join the rest of the search team. On the way down the driveway I noticed two ponies inside the hay stack yard in their paddock. Apparently I’d been too tired the night before to shut the gate properly, and my two boys were happily having an early breakfast.
When I returned from the firehouse, I walked down to correct my error. Lucky Joe, my two year old stud colt, seemed a little apologetic, as though he knew he was somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be. Once he was back on the proper side of the fence, he looked at me very oddly. I was wearing pajama pants because I was trying to delay launching into the rest of the day. Lucky Joe lowered his head and sniffed my pants curiously, seeming to say how different they were from my normal blue jeans. His expression and action made me smile. So perceptive!
After the (successful) search was over, about eighteen hours from the first alert, I met my husband at summer pasture to do a few chores. One of them was to reunite the mare herd, combining two smaller herds back to the normal single one. This involved leading my newest pony Madie across the river to the east pasture. I wasn’t sure how Madie would react to crossing the river. I couldn’t remember if she’d ever done it when she was a baby here, and I knew she hadn’t crossed it since she returned. I was thrilled, then, when she followed me into the water and across to the other side without hesitation.
A second unknown then quickly presented itself. We had seen a very large bear track the previous day, and I didn’t know if a scent remained that might alarm Madie. Again I was thrilled that she continued to follow me willingly all the way to the rest of the herd. I moved Mya shortly thereafter, remembering to grab the camera this time to photograph us crossing the river!
After the chores were done, I walked back over to check the reunited mare herd. They were all happily grazing in grass up to their withers and didn’t hear me approach until I called a greeting. My three homebreds came running to me, which I found really touching. Then the oldest, Rose, followed me as I headed back to the gate.
I stopped and scratched her in her favorite places and gave her a hug and told her how much she meant to me. She kept following me, seeming to say that she missed spending time with me. The feeling is mutual, so when she called out as I disappeared from view, my heart swelled with gratitude for the presence of these ponies in my life. Their varied expressions of interest in our relationship helped me forget for a moment the fatigue from the unusual eighteen hours we’d just experienced.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2015
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll also enjoy the books A Humbling Experience and What an Honor, available internationally by clicking here.