Friday, September 28, 2012

The Story of Two Red Horses

In the shade of this tree on my grandparents' farm
Lie two of my friends - two red horses.
I look at this place and I see and feel them...
Coats the color of burnished copper,
Flowing manes and tails,
Eyes bright with curiosity,
Nostrils flared with excitement,
Hooves dancing in anticipation.
Eager for a day of work or play - 
It doesn't matter which - 
They are ready to go.

One tall and majestic and brave
With a small white star beneath his forelock.
Steady as a rock, always alert to the job at hand,
Doing his best to protect and serve for over 20 years.
A department favorite who found his way here in retirement
To learn to enjoy the sounds of the country
And freedoms he had not known in his big city life.

One small and fidgety and unsure.
Full of flight and fire.
Grateful for a better life, 
But never fully believing danger was gone.
Trusting few and truly loving just one.
Understanding heartache and abuse and neglect - 
The perfect bond for a young girl full of struggles and conflicts
Eager to make a better way for both.

Brought together in old age,
They bonded and became "Two Grumpy Old Men" together.
With the droopy lips of old geldings
and day to day bickering of old men,
They mirrored each other - the big and the small.
Spending their days in the shade of a maple nose to tail
And side by side quietly grazing in the pasture.

On the good days they raced like colts across the field,
Kicking and shaking their mighty heads in play.
On the bad days, as arthritis and the other affects of aging kicked in,
They took watch over each other,
Taking comfort in the companionship of an understanding partner.

When their girl, now grown, came each day,
They nuzzled up and breathed soft sighs of content
As she stroked their silky necks and talked quietly to each one.
A warm mash, thick blankets, deep layers of golden straw,
A heat lamp and tank of warm water
She did all she could to make their last days the best.

Slowly, the light faded in the eyes of the brave.
As that final winter set in and he looked her in the eye,
She knew his time had come.
One last warm mash, his best halter.
She held him and stroked him and softly spoke to him
As he took those last breaths - 
And she knew he understood.
She laid him under that big tree,
Covered with the blanket from his days of service.

Back in that barn, she wept into the mane of that little one
And he seemed to change too.
He grew older and sadder by the day without his friend.
A new companion came, a spunky little pony
Who revived some of the life in that little copper gelding.
But the bond was not the same.
And age continued to advance 
With all the problems that come with it.
As the next winter approached, she knew he was dreading it.
The fire went out of his eyes - that spark that defined him.
And he began to trudge through the days with great effort.
Despite her best efforts, as the new year was dawning,
She knew he could not go on.

She laid to rest that friend of more than 20 years - 
Side by side with his companion once again.
That scared little gelding who had come to trust her.
Full of flight and fire - always on the lookout.
Who had absorbed all those tears and words
She couldn't share with anyone else
Through the years of school, jobs, marriage, babies.
He had been there with her -
A friend when it seemed like there were none.

Who called to her every time he heard her voice
And came to her at a run no matter how much freedom he was given.
Who greeted her hug with a warm soft sigh and gave her kisses over the gate.
Who overcame his fears to carry her bravely
Through the woods, over trails, in parades full of scary things
And back into the arena that was once his place of abuse.

She looks upon this place often - 
Feeling their spirits and missing them dearly.
She takes comfort in knowing that they are reunited - 
Racing side by side - all copper and fire once again.

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