My eyes thirst for the sight of dark red-brown and cinnamon brown. Involuntarily, they jerk to the field, the water tanks, the manger. Where are they hiding? Are they all the way at the top of the field? Are they napping in a soft hollow out of the wind? If we start doing chores and banging gates, surely they will hear us and come trotting over. But the field is horseless, and there are no more horse chores to do, only memories and loose hay blowing, hoofprints filling with dust, places they liked to roll, and plentiful droppings that will continue to invigorate our compost pile, garden and greenhouse.
Stormy went west while Esperanza went east. We found them great homes, a huge relief,
but Henry and I are sad and unmoored. On the day of her move, Esperanza wasn’t sure about stepping up into the big trailer, but eventually she did, trusting us, relying on her mostly good trailering memories, breathing through a spike in her heart rate, as was I. The bucket of grain was a big help too.
We followed the trailer east and south the back way on endless dirt roads to San Acacio
where our friends raise paint horses and cattle on rich grassy bottomland lined with cottonwoods, the place where they promised to give Esperanza a forever home when I asked them soon after receiving my diagnosis.
I am so grateful for their generosity, but I have to wonder, with so much uncertainty in the world, how can anyone promise anything these days? And yet, this promise feels right.
Having set this up and seen it coming for a long time, now I have to let go and trust them to give Esperanza what she needs — other horses, capable riders, the fruits and waters of paradise, shelter, and gentle care. I need to remember that no matter what happens to me, Esperanza will get to live out her life in the valley where she was born.
I don’t remember seeing Esperanza get out of the trailer but I know she prefers to do it frontwise and slowly, as opposed to Stormy who would rather explode out of a trailer backwards. In any case, with my balance compromised and attention lapsing these days, I stayed out of the way. No more falling like I did the other day when I got tangled in the halter and deep snow when I walked out to the field to fetch Esperanza for the brand inspector. Esperanza, from her position curled up in the snow, had allowed me to use her as a ladder to find my feet again.
Now my ranch friends are leading Esperanza to a large outdoor pen with several yearlings, an old paint mare, and some heifers. Guess who instantly becomes queen of the herd? You got it. My little bossy red-brown mare with a kite shaped blaze trots out in front with her neck and tail arched, as if she were the drum major of a parade.
I’d like to see what happens when they put her into the big field with the big mares, many of whom are swelling with a new crop of foals ready to drop on the ground this spring.
(A warning to anyone who wants to visit me: I will probably ask for a drive to see my horse and her herd.)