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Over the weekend for two days, we watched this horse stand patiently at the gate, head jutting across the metal bar, waiting. His gaze never left the road ahead.
I suspect it was the road his friend walked down.
And now his self-appointed task was to remain vigilant until his friend returned. I don’t know how long this boy kept his vigil, but I have a good guess he stayed put until his pal was led back into the pasture. He certainly remained in place the entire time we spent with the Golden Girls, which thanks to Pepper’s slow eating habits, has stretched into a generous hour. Often more.
Like us, horses have friends.
They form strong attachments, and protest loudly when that bond is interrupted. Like this black beauty, they will stand guard at the point of exit, and wait. And whinny loud desperate calls. And wait some more.
They find comfort and safety in their friendships.
Sometimes they form a small herd, like our Herd of Oldsters. Others are content with one BFF. As we’ve gotten to know the horses living in the pasture, we’ve seen several longstanding friendships.
Honestly, they make me smile.
Humans and horses are social creatures.
We have our own special brand of quirky personalities, desires, and a host of things necessary for our survival.
Right at the top of the list for me are the people who make up my community–friends and family who help me feel safe and nurtured in this sometimes-unpredictable world.
Our peeps matter to us. We need each other.
If I go too long without spending time with someone important to me, I notice.
Something feels “off,” not right with my world, though I may not be able to put my finger on it right away.
Eventually I’ll figure out that I need to connect. Re-connect.
If I’m taking good care of myself, I’ll reach out– make that call, or schedule a time to get together. It’s an important part of what keeps me centered and able to go on about my life.
Eventually this black horse ended his vigil. I didn’t actually see the reunion, but I’m pretty darn sure it happened. His friend was returned to the pasture, putting the axis of one black horse’s world back in place.
Is there someone you might want to call?
Now could be the perfect time.
They weren’t at the gate with the others. Instead, they chose a spot where I’m sure they thought I couldn’t miss them.
They know me so well!
On the right is Old Joe.
He’s a grizzled old gelding, big and beat up from all his life experience. He’s actually a sweetheart, but because of his size, he gets deferential treatment from the other horses.
Joe goes where he wants.
Joe does what he wants.
End of story.
We have a soft spot for Joe, in part because his people helped me get “unstuck” when I drove into a snowdrift last winter. But mostly we like him because he is a horse of great soul. All you have to do is look into his face and you’ll experience the depth of his being.
On the left is Brio.
Now that Baby is gone, he’s the youngest horse in the herd.
And he’s fearless.
There isn’t a horse out there that he won’t approach.
Sometimes he gets told in rather strong horse language to get lost, but it never seems to deter his inquisitive spirit and boundless youthful energy.
Brio still has a lot to learn in terms of horse manners. He’s had some training and could use a tad more. Okay, maybe two tads more!
Sometimes I’ve seen Joe snap at Brio. It’s as if he’s using his best W.C. Fields imitation: “Go away kid. You bother me.” But other times, Joe seems a willing teacher.
And on this particular afternoon, when both were cold and hungry, Joe allowed Brio to stand with him.
Watching Joe and Brio made me think about friendships.
How sometimes we miss out on really great friends because we limit ourselves.
We may only choose friends of our same generation. Or those with similar interests. Or same lifestyle. Or values, or income. Or??
Years ago, my mother’s dearest friend was at least twenty years her junior. She always said knowing Pat kept her young. I think it was true. When you saw them together talking, or sharing the occasional forbidden cigarette, you never thought anything about their difference in age.
They were friends.
And just like Brio and Old Joe, had much to learn from each other.
Is your life enriched by “unlikely friendships?”
I hope so.
I’ve had a dear friend visiting this weekend. It’s been great fun reminiscing, talking about old adventures, looking at photographs, and getting caught up with each other. It’s been years since we’ve seen each other, so the time together is especially sweet.
Last night we took her with us to feed the horses. As we rounded the corner and drove toward the gate, we saw five horses waiting for us.
I looked closely.
It was the original cast of the Herd of Oldsters: Bud, Pepper, Red, Amigo and Chickadee. My heart did a little flippity flop.
No one else was around. It was just five old friends waiting for dinner and/or snacks.
I can’t predict what will happen tomorrow. Who can? But for this moment in time, it was a weekend of reunion; an all round celebration of friendship and connection. It was perfect. And wonderful.
It got me thinking how very important friends are to my well being. I suspect the same is true for you. Some days I get so busy hunkered down over my computer or other tasks, I don’t see anyone all day. When the days link together with more of the same, I start to feel this yearning.
I need to see my peeps.
Connect with the people who know me.
The ones who accept me for who I am.
Even when they know about all the warts and bumps.
There are many times when I don’t act on the yearning. I tell myself I don’t have time. “Keep you head down and continue working. You have a deadline to meet.”
Or a self-imposed goal.
Or a commitment to keep.
All good things in and of themselves. Until they begin to deprive me of the soul medicine I need.
Horses live in herds, as do many other animals. It’s how they survive. There’s a hierarchy, protocol and yes, politics that I sometimes don’t like. But all of it serves to keep them safe.
Spending these few days with my friend has made me realize how much I want my own herd. I need a predictable routine of time with people I care about, and who care about me.
Those who are near and far.
And with today’s technology, it should be easy enough to orchestrate. Facebook, chatting, texting (except for me) web cams, Skype, telephone, email, face-to-face time. To mention a few options.
And why is it that with more ways than ever to connect, many of us feel more isolated and alone?
How do you connect with your herd?
Is there someone you could reach out to today?