Hoofprints In The Snow

January 24, 2009
By Anonymous

I stepped outside into the picture perfect winter wonderland that lay before me. Each unique flake swirled around in the sky until it landed on the fencepost's, the big yellow wheelbarrow and the roof to my big barn. I stepped off the porch with my 3 layers on underneath my Carhartt, a scarf wrapped around my neck and mittens and trudged through the too deep snow. Each step I took I sunk into the foot of snow on the ground, so much that from my knees down was buried. After what seemed like ages, I reached the barn. It was a struggle to get the big red barn door open with the snow and the ice freezing it shut. With a couple heaves and dare I say a couple falls I pushed it open. Weird you wouldn't think you would have to step 'down' into a barn but I did just that, quickly shutting the door. Taking refuge away from the frigid cold. I was never one for cold, though I loved the snow.

The warm, musky smell of horses welcomed me and I sighed contently. Horses had always been my release. If something was bugging me, out to the barn I'd go. I would chat to my horses, telling them my problems. Rusty was a goof ball and his silly little mannerisms would crack any mood. Max was, well in short the grumpy one, he was good at wallowing. And Flicka was the one who seemed to comfort me the most. She would bury her head in my chest and let me love on her or cry on her if needed. Flicka has been my girl for 10 years, ever since my grandpa gave her to me. Little did he know what he was really giving me...a protector, a comforter, and most of all a friend for life. Some people may think it's strange to talk to animals or horses, claiming that there's no point because they don't understand. But horses are completely capable of carrying on conversations...that snort when something frightens them, or the friendly nicker reminding you about that treat you promised and neighs of longing to a mate a pasture away is all conversation.

I felt a warm breath on my neck and turned around to find Flicka holding the end of my scarf in her mouth, giving me the 'Who? Me?' innocence look. I took the scarf from her mouth and replaced it with one of the many horse treats taking stock in my pocket. She happily munched on it and the Max and Rusty stamped their feet, feeling neglected, though they were far from it.

“You wanna play?” I took two halters off the hooks and attempted to halter Max and Rusty. My gloves made it difficult to clasp the latch but I was too stubborn to take them off and subject my hands to the cold. So after much struggle the boys had their halters on. The back door to the barn slid open with much more ease than the front. When the boys caught a whiff of the arctic winter air their ears pricked and nostrils flared, to take in the wind. Their thick,furry winter coats prepared them for the cold and they were raring to go. My usual well-mannered Geldings pranced alongside me, trying to hurry me along to the big pasture where they knew they could run. They didn't seem to grasp that their slow human only had two legs, not four and continued to drag me to the pasture.

I let Rusty go first and the second his halter dropped from his face he whirled around and took off spitting clumps of snow behind him. Then Max was let off and instead of running he slowly stepped through the heaps of snow, his nose buried in it. He knelt down and plopped his 1500 pound body into the snow and began to roll. As he got up, his furry black coat had white clinging to him and his muzzle had snow resting there. He looked like he was impersonating Santa. looks like my Max has taken up a new hobby. I couldn't help but laugh out loud at him. They loved to rediscover the world when it was covered in white.

As I made my way back to the barn I listened to the lonely nickers of Flicka. Boy, you would think that after ten years she would know she wouldn't be left out, that this was only our tradition. As I came into view of Flicka she was all worked up, pacing her stall, wondering where her buddies went.

I now grabbed her her purple halter and brought my drama queen from her stall and into the cross ties. I settled the red saddle pad onto her spotted back and gently swung the saddle on top. As I let down the girth and tightened the cinch Flicka tuned in and realized what we were doing. Sure we were going on a ride, but not just any ride. Every year on the day of the first snow, the boys are let out to play and Flicka and I ride the ranch enjoying the white fluff, completely in our element. “Ready, Girl?” Flicka led the way to the snowy outdoors as I stuck my foot in the stirrup and swung myself up.

With ears forward, tail up we began our ride. Flicka picked her feet up till they almost touched her chin, as if she was a dressage horse, to keep her pretty little legs from getting cold. My curly brown hair was coated in white flakes and the snow was coming down in significant amounts. I was sure by tonight there would build up to be two feet. I used to despise large amounts of snow when Flicka was boarded at a barn further away because each added inch of snow added yet another day away from her. But now, with my horses only feet from my house, I welcomed it.

Flicka abruptly stopped in her tracks and arched her neck like she was watching something. And I realized what it was when a gorgeous chestnut mare trotted out of the forest into the snow covered clearing. It was rare that I ever saw a wild horse roaming freely. She stopped and looked at us. Flicka was staring intently as was she, it was almost like they were communicating to each other secretly and maybe they were. I'll never know because she escaped to the forest leaving hoofprint's in the snow that would soon be covered by the large flakes that were cascading out of the sky. I turned Flicka around and decided to head back to the barn before we were stranded. As we took our time getting back we left our own hoofprint's in the snow.

The author's comments:
This is based on my Horse Flicka and a ride in the snow we recently went on. Horses are everything to me and Flicka is my pride and joy. After losing my previous horse, she helped me to smile again. It is amazing to me how drastically a horse can change your life for the better.

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on Jan. 22 2013 at 7:53 pm
bookmouse BRONZE, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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