Brooke: Four feet of love (column)
Special to the Daily
The grass was tall and for the first time in months. I could hear the sounds of water trickling in the nearby brook. The chickens sauntered around their coop, and a pair of black ducks coiled their heads into their feathers for warmth. Fattened goats moved up and down weathered, wood chairs, that had probably been donated by a luxury lodge.
I grabbed the rake and wheel barrel and opened the stall gate to greet the new, unnamed horse at the Farview Horse Rescue ranch. The unnamed horse was a brood mare — an adult female that was used to breed horses. The former owner put her up for sale to a slaughterhouse buyer. Now, she was a rescued guest at the ranch.
Unsure of the unnamed horse’s training, I approached her gently and reached my out my hand. She walked toward me and allowed me to rub her nose. Feeling welcomed, I began to clean beside her and get to know her. The more I raked, the more I spoke to the horse, to remind her how beautiful and strong she was.
Although ski boots were more the fashion this time of year, I was refreshed, wearing insulated work gloves and boots for a day in the FHR pastures. The manure was often buried under a thin layer of snow, or completely frozen solid, but the workout and comradery of equestrian-lifers kept me warm and well-paid in spirit.
I used the wheel barrel to haul the manure and dump it onto a berm-like formation, designed by the ranch. Once the manure piled up, it would provide a snow fence that shielded the animals in winter.
After my cleaning was done, I headed over to the shed and gathered the rope and halter, hoping to put the halter on the unnamed horse for the first time. At first sight of the halter, she turned her rear toward me and darted away. Not sure what to do, the ranch coach on-site suggested I give more space, so that the horse felt a means of escape and freedom. I took a few steps back, and the unnamed horse looked at me, and then walked straight toward me.
I stood beside the horse, facing the same direction as she did. I stretched up on my toes and hugged my arm around her shoulders, trying to convince her to lower her head for the halter. The more she lowered her head, the more I let up with my arm, and so on, until at one breaking moment, the unnamed horse bent her head down to my 5’2” flat-footed level, fully embracing the halter.
Proudly, the horse and I walked effortlessly together, in and out of stall gates and across the ranch, toting her new look in the halter among the chickens, the ducks, and the goats.
There was over 18” of fresh snow that day, but we had well over four feet of love on the ranch ranch that day, too.
Taryn Brooke is a volunteer for Farview Horse Rescue and a local resident in Breckenridge. Farview Horse Rescue is a non-profit organization that rescues and rehabilitates horses, with operations in Fairplay and Breckenridge.
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