Unexpected Tender Mercies:
There is a simple, exquisite song from the musical Flora the Red Menace by John Kander and Fred Ebb , “It’s A Quiet Thing”, that speaks of dreams coming true; but instead of drumrolls, bells and fireworks…”happiness comes in on tiptoe”, taking one by surprise.
I have been having such moments with my horses. This novice horsewoman is finding tender, small moments with her horses that she couldn’t have known were possible.
But they are indeed small moments. Tender mercies. Quiet things.
Happiness walks in on tiptoe when my irrepressible gelding, Spirit, and I find games that we like to play together. They are simple, silly games. He knows them, knows the rules and initiates them.
One of our silly games came about because, though getting infinitely better, he might still bolt when he gets playful and sassy. Thus, although I will graze the mares outside their paddocks, my concern that he could hurt himself or others if he should bolt out of my hands when outside his paddock, limits my hand grazing him.
One day I sat just outside his wooden fence and just started picking grass and offering it to him by hand.
Oh how he loved that! I would find succulent roots, delicious blades of fresh green and un-nameable types of grass with which to tempt him. But the rule is, he may not get the grass by being above me over the fence. ( I don’t want to do anything that might encourage his dominating tendencies.) He has to come down to the first or second board up from the ground to get his grass.
(Have I mentioned that he has plenty of lush, delicious grass to graze right there inside his paddock?)
He’ll certainly try to get it from above, by being irresistible and flirty. But I sit firm. And then he bends down and gets his yummies just the way we agreed upon 🙂
So when I’m walking by or coming to greet him and he assumes the “this-is-where- I-need-to-be-to-have-her-hand-feed-me-grass position” with his head reaching just above the bottom board and his dear lips protruding out to say, “Let’s play”, the happy tenderness that fills my heart is as big as the sky. ❤
Another silly game we play is “Drink Water Out Of The Plastic Water Bottle That Mom Always Carries With Her”. He is hilarious. Most of it spills right out of his mouth. But he knows it makes me laugh and laugh when he does it. Over and over, he invites me to play this goofy game.
Ah yes, a quiet thing, a small thing, a tender thing.
Baby Doe is another story. Our happiness and quiet thing happens when I sit under a tree in her paddock. She may be eating hay or grazing around, sort of ignoring me. But then, being a horse, she must check out what I am doing there.
In the past, when she would come over, I would usually get up from my cross-legged seated position into a squat or on my knees, in case I need to get out of harm’s way from an accidental kick or stomp.
Just recently, I’ve dared to remain seated cross-legged. I look in her eyes and at her body language and I know I’m safe. (Granted, I’m also on the look out for a bee that might sting her or something that might make her startle, thus finding myself on the wrong end of a hoof.)
But this most recent time, she came to me softly and slowly. I just sat. I released fear. She came closer and put her muzzle in my hands and just stood there. We just looked at each other for many minutes as I had her sweet lips in my hands and felt her warm, moist breath.
It was a quiet thing. A tender thing. A thing that filled me with more love than I ever dreamed I was capable of feeling. A thing that filled me with awe.
We also like to take walks together in her paddock. Totally at liberty. No halter, no rope. We just stroll together. If I stop, she stops. We check things out.
Last time, there was a tiny bunny in a little hollow in the back of her paddock. As we stopped to check him out, he just looked up at us and didn’t budge. Often, when we are quiet together, there forms a gathering of bunnies, squirrels, blue jays and sometimes a crow or two. I feel like Snow White when we get that kind of animal gathering on our walks!:)
No bells, no trumpets. It’s a quiet thing.
And then there’s the glorious mare, Serenity. With her, the quiet is profound. The gentleness of her being almost unfathomable. Her soft eyes and nose are so tender. Her love and her acceptance of my love so generously given.
When I’m grooming her and brushing out her tail, which is her favorite thing, she just cocks a back hoof, licks and chews and sighs.
When she chooses to be in her stall, I’ll come and sit on the stoop of it and lean against the door jam. She will start breathing heavy and slow and doze off. Before I know it, in the peace of afternoon warmth and her rhythmic breath, I’m dozing too.
“Happiness comes in on tiptoe. Well, what do you know….It’s a quiet thing. A very quiet thing”.