All the wonderful horse friends have left Wise Acres. Amy, the last one to depart, was a Tim Trabon intervention, a companion for Harley who was bereft and needed some company. When Harley passed away (a week before Tim did) it signalled the emphatic end of an era. Freddie had bought him for me well over thirty years ago as a colt. His good friend Amy made it through the last awful winter, then gave up the ghost on her friend Harley’s grave. It was the last place she’d seen him, and she chose to graze there a lot. It’s where she died and is buried. Sweet and gentle, she was an Argentine Criollo, an agile polo pony in her previous life.
Then the rains came. The storm season. But the damned tornadoes are no longer a threat to the horses.
I had a big beautiful Appaloosa with rust spots who loved storms. In driving rain and hail he’d be out there grazing. I think it must have felt like a massage to him. He looked like a war horse, but what a gentle old soul. Dutch.
I turned the stock tanks over, no need for them anymore.The salt blocks have melted away. The barn swallows are the only inhabitants of the loafing shed all the horses had liked for shade and shelter. They gathered there and seemed to conspire, to plan. When the little guy comes out with the fly spray, you all surround him and I’ll walk in front of him—don’t let him go until he knuckle-rubs our backs, and scratches our bellies.
Blue, Roxy, Dutch, Jack Ford, Mighty Mouse, Red, Lopez, Harley and Amy. The denizens of Wise Acres. Before them, Percy, Senor, Bullseye, Mr. Walker, Belle, and a dozen others. All with distinct personalities. Marvelous creatures with dignity, humor, a bit of crankiness, and all incredibly giving when it came to that. Harley was an actor. Ears back when I’d feed him. I’d laugh and pull his ears and he’d say, sotto voce, stop that, you’ll ruin my pasture cred in front of the herd.
He was also a joker. I’d be in his pasture intent on some chore, tightening some fence wire, and he’d come up behind me and tap me with his nose, causing me to jump, startled. He loved that. Any tools I would lay in the grass he’d pick up and run away with, hammer, pliers.
Anyway, end of an era, and a fine one at that. Before the latest and final loss, they had all taught me plenty. As I say in the upcoming book, Chickens One Day, Feathers The Next, their teaching methods were varied but fell mainly into one of two camps: The “Bad things happen fast” method, and the “Don’t do that again” method. Often the two were combined. I’ve been kicked, bitten, rolled on, dragged, chased, bucked off, run off with, tree branched and humiliated. I always came back for more. “The Horse Worrier” in the afore-mentioned book will explain a whole lot about the G-equine epoch which started when I was a little kid in Tulsa, and then haunted me all my days. I did love me some fine, fine horses.