Terri Farley
HomeBooksThe AuthorConnectEducationWild Horses

March 1

I don't usually name my blogs, but I'm calling this one:

Mother and (Horse) Child Reunion

Everyone had gone to bed early, except for me.

It was only nine o'clock.

I was reading, when I heard it.

Jennifer Kensworthy is my best friend in the world, but if she'd been sitting next to me on the couch, I would've pushed her off and hoped she took the hint never to get me hooked on a scary story, again. Really, I was so creeped out, I was afraid to swing my feet off the couch and only the floor. I was afraid if I started walking upstairs to my own bed . . .

Well, I'm not sure what I was afraid of, but I just kept reading with my cat curled on my tummy, and Blaze snoring on the floor beside me.

Knock, knock, knock.

Blaze bolted to his feet, head lowered, fur standing up along his spine. When I sat up straighter, Cougar bounded off of my, onto the floor, and disappeared up the stairs on silent paws.

Knock, knock, knock.

Blaze stalked on stiff legs to the kitchen door. He didn't growl, but his Border Collie ears were tipped so far forward, they looked like miniature bull's horns.

I'd left the front porch light on, so I peeked outside to see what had surprised him. And me.

A light snow fell straight down. That meant there wasn't a breeze. I couldn't tell myself "don't worry; it's only the wind."

Black branches balanced thick white layers that looked more like vanilla icing than snow.

Nothing moved except Tempest. I saw my black filly circling her pen.

She stopped so suddenly, snow puffed up around her, and she gave a neigh. What was there in that sound that made me remember the days she'd called for her mother, over and over again, as we'd weaned them? This sound wasn't heart-breaking like that one, and Tempest wasn't pressing against the fence with such urgency that I thought we'd be calling the vet.

Still, if Tempest-language had a sound that meant Mama, I was hearing it.

Knock, knock, knock.

There! The sound I'd heard wasn't knocking at all. Glimmering silver and gold, snow-covered buckskin, Dark Sunshine stood on the ridgeline, pawing the ground, maybe hitting a rock, to get her daughter's attention.

I hadn't seen Sunny for so long that my heart yearned out to her. Could she feel me longing to touch her chamois-gold hide? If I went to her, would she let me fork my fingers through her wind-tangled mane?

No. I knew she wouldn't, but it was enough that she'd come back to visit.

Dark Sunshine had never liked River Bend Ranch with its snug barn and strong fences to keep out predators. She'd always been willing to take her chances in the wild. She wanted to run free with the Phantom.

As the buckskin picked her way down the hillside, Tempest half-reared and squealed like a foal.

Dark Sunshine stopped inches from Tempest's corral fence. It was bittersweet to realize that even though Sunny had never given her heart to me, she still loved Tempest.

Some cowboys, like Dallas, will tell you that horses don't have the same family bonds that humans do. They say mares forget their babies as soon as they're weaned.

That's just not true.

Proof — in buckskin and black — stood right there, fetlock deep in snow.

My nose was pressed up against the cold glass in the door window as I watched. Blaze sniffed the threshold, then bumped his body against my legs. He wanted to see what I saw, but he sensed I was no longer scared.

With a doggy sigh, he laid his muzzle in my hand.

"Good boy," I told him, happy he didn't disturb Dark Sunshine and Tempest with barking.

Black manes surged forward and back like they floated on two saws, grating back and forth across the same log.

It took me a few seconds to realize Tempest and Sunny were grooming each other with gentle teeth.

You scratch my withers and I'll scratch yours, I thought, smiling.

They only groomed each other for about five minutes.

Then, Dark Sunshine stepped back.

Heads held high, both horses stood taller than before. Both arched their necks, and even inside the house walls, I heard their farewell snorts.

Dark Sunshine took long leaps through powdery snow. She didn't look back. If the Phantom was up there, he was invisible, his ghostly self.

Tempest didn't make a sound as she watched her mother go.

Ears up, tail switching, Tempest didn't look sad. Or was I just telling myself that?

I had to know. So, several minutes after Dark Sunshine had disappeared, I ran outside in my slippers.

Tempest looked my way.

I stopped, arms wrapped around myself, against the cold.

Glittering silver snowflakes, thin as mica, made a waving curtain between us.

Just as Sunny got a snort good-bye, I got one of greeting and then my beautiful black filly, the perfect combination of her wild parents, kicked her heels at the moon.

With all four feet back on the earth, Tempest knelt in the snow and then rolled, showing her belly to the stars, happy just where she was, on Riverbend Ranch.