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It’s been a rough six weeks in the pasture. Winter has been hard on the horses and they’ve responded with increased “survival of the fittest” behavior. The winter pasture is grazed to nothing. There’s not an ounce of nutrition in the stubs of brown grass that remained.

When we’d come out to feed our two old sweeties, we couldn’t help but notice the desperation in the eyes of the others who dropped by to see if we’d give them a bite or two. Hunger had turned them into beggars. They’d kick and snort at each other and pull out their most aggressive looks.

“This is our bread line and you’d better get away from here,” the oldsters seemed to say.

We learned that the boarding facility had stopped the evening hay feeding about a month earlier. That explained Bud’s unusual drop in weight, and the ribby look of so many of the horses in the larger herd. Pepper was showing up with kick marks, which I presume happened as she tried to get her share of hay.

The mood in the pasture was bleak.

Tension rose off the backs of the horses like steam. It didn’t help that the days were grey and overcast.

That changed last Tuesday when the horses were let into new pasture.

They had fresh green grass to eat, and room to divide into their smaller herd families.

The tension evaporated, as did the worried looks on so many beautiful faces.

Pepper having a snooze in the sun.

The difference in mood was palpable.

When you don’t have enough, it changes your behavior.

Horse and human.

How do you react to scarcity?

Do you become more aggressive?

Do you isolate yourself?

Do you hoard your resources?

Do you become desperate and mean spirited?

Do you reach out and share with others who have even less than you?


When I slipped the halter over her head I caught the scent of freshly cut grass. Pepper’s breath smelled of green and summer and long, lazy days.

And for an instant, I was transported, catapulted really, back to my childhood when play was the only thing on my summer agenda.

I remember lying in the grass, looking up at the clouds in that Wyoming sky and reveling in the absolute freedom I felt. I had nothing to do but be the young girl that I was.

It was intoxicating and freeing.

In my memory, the heat of summer has mingled with the chlorophyll-laced scent of newly cut lawn and the pulsing ch-ch-ch sounds of an automatic sprinkler.

And to this day, it gives me a rush.

It’s a feeling of complete abandon and endless possibilities that stretch out before me like a highway.

I wonder what happens to adults.

What causes us to stop looking at clouds and lying in the summer grass and stepping onto that highway of our life?

When did the possibilities change?

When did the highway become littered with stop signs and detours?

And what, if anything, am I going to do about it?

Big questions.

For the moment, I’m going to simply appreciate Pepper’s gift to me: the scent of summer on her breath.



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