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It happens every spring, and each year I tell myself I’ll remember next time.

And then I promptly forget.

When the pastures finally green up and the horses are able to eat their fill of the sweet, new grass, they develop a serious case of “green-grass-itis.”

And our sweet girl, Miss P. is no exception.

This eating grass is serious business – nothing to trifle with or be distracted from.

So on Friday, as always, I went out to feed Pepper.

It’s a bit of a hike, since the herd has been moved to the back pasture, but no worries. It was a beautiful day and the walk was good for me. I fixed her food and set out to get her.

Of course she and her little band of friends, Amigo and Chickadee were in the southernmost corner of the pasture.

Of course.

When I got close enough, I called to her. This usually gets me at minimum, a raised head. More often she walks toward me.

Not this time.

Didn’t acknowledge my presence at all.

I can almost always count on Amigo to get the group going, if Pepper doesn’t.



When I got right up on them, I said, “Hey girl. Are you ready for lunch?”

She finally deigned to look at me.


Then she put her head back into the grass and resumed eating.

I walked closer, put my hand on her neck and stroked it. “ Come on Pep, time to eat.”

She continued to ignore me, as if she were suddenly deaf.

I didn’t bring a halter. These days we just don’t need it since she comes in on her own.

Except when she has green-grass-itis.

I stood for a while trying to coax the horses in. But they were having none of it.

At one point they looked up, gazed at me, and then shot a look at each other. It was as if they were considering my proposal. But quickly they unanimously agreed, “No thanks. Not today.” And they put heads into the sweet green grass.

I can’t say as I blame them.

The way they plucked the blades of grass into their mouths made it sound quite delicious.

It’s been a baren pasture this winter, so I get their fixation on the green.

And soon enough Miss P. will figure out that the grass is here to stay.

And I will remember to take a lead rope with me.



I’m taking a leap here to even mention the word spring, but all reports tell me the nice weather is on the way.

This weekend.

Seventies, they say.

Now Pepper knows all about that warming trend, and she doesn’t ever listen to the weather forecasters.

She has her own finely tuned system encoded in her DNA.

So spring in the pasture means two things:




And it seems we’re well into both.

Pepper is shedding out with abandon.

I suggested she hold on to a bit of that hair when the previous snow was on the way, but by that time, the process was rolling along.

Every day we get handful after handful of hair from our girl.

She’s going to slick out and be gorgeous.


When I look at all those globs of old, dry hair on the ground around Pepper, it reminds me of new starts. Every year she essentially starts over.

In the natural world, many animals have an annual routine of shedding the old and beginning anew.

I think I like that.

It makes me wonder what I’m holding on to that I could shed.

Lighten my emotinal load.

Or my physical load for that matter.


If it were as simple as brushing out the old and welcoming the new, what would you shed this season?

P.S. I think it is exactly that simple!

When Baby was introduced into the pasture fifteen months ago, there was another yearling in residence – a colt named Brio. From the beginning they didn’t get along.

Maybe it was a jealousy thing.

Or a boy-girl thing.

Whatever the reason, they did NOT like each other.

Brio and his mom became occasional visitors to the Herd of Oldsters when I was out feeding.

They quickly identified me as the snack lady and wanted in on the action. They never stayed long and were treated as interlopers. Amigo and Red did their best to intimidate, though it only partially worked. Brio and his mom would simply move down the fence line and wait for me to hand out snacks, which I did. Have I mentioned before that I am a total softie?

Yes, I think so.

Unlike Baby, Brio is well cared for. His people make sure he has the perfect feed for a growing horse. He gets a blanket in the cold, visits from the farrier, and has already had his first round of training, so he knows at least a few horse manners. I honestly hadn’t paid that much attention to him. He wasn’t part of my herd and he had his own people who loved him.

There’s a saying that has floated around various sources for so long I can’t identify the author. It goes like this: When one door closes, a window opens.

One afternoon about a week after I learned that Baby had been taken to auction, Rick and I were walking in the pasture to get our two old sweeties. They had apparently decided that the grass at the very far end of the pasture was the most delicious. At least on this afternoon.

As I tromped along in the wet grass, I felt a horse come up behind me. It was Brio. He stayed at my back, pacing me. Eventually, when he wanted me to stop walking and pay him some attention, he began nibbling on the shoulder of my coat.

I stopped and turned to face him.

“What are you doing you silly horse?”

He replied with the sweetest expression that seemed to say, “Aren’t you glad to see me?”

He was feeling playful. He’d nibble on my coat for a while. Then he tried to take the lead rope from me.

Even though he was probably doing nothing more than looking for a snack, it was fun for me. Young horses have such a sweet energy.

I know that in grief you can’t replace one animal with another, or one person for another, and magically feel better. Grieving doesn’t work that way.

But I also know that I came away from that afternoon in the pasture with Brio, feeling lighter and less sad.

He opened a window for me, and for that, I’m extremely grateful.



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