Warm at Heart

I walked down the hill to the barn where my horses are found – on a clear winter’s morning with fresh snow on the ground…

Snowstorm 2014

Snowstorm 2014

One of my favorite winter memories is riding my horse in the snow when I was much, much younger and living in Michigan. Now I live in Georgia and the opportunities to ride in a winter wonderland are much rarer. Every once in a great while I get to relive that experience. Those rides never fail to transport me back to those magic times. This past week when the rest of the world stood still during a record breaking winter storm and 6″ snowfalls, my joy was whirling like those flurries as I not only watched- but lived it- from the back of my horse. The following is a poem I wrote about this very thing in my book “Knowing Horses By Heart” .

 A Ride in the Snow 
I walked down the hill to the barn where my horses are found
On a clear winter’s morning with fresh snow on the ground
I heard the soft nickers greeting me from the stalls
I saw the halters all hanging from the hooks on the walls
I made up a warm mash to chase off the chill
And stood listening to them eating as hungry horses will
I really had no intention of riding that day
Just doing my chores then going my way
I suddenly felt an old memory deep inside of me stir
Was it really so wonderful? I had to be sure
I walked over to the stall where my favorite mare stood
And right then and there decided I would
When she had finished her breakfast and her belly was full
I snapped on her lead rope and gently gave it a pull
I saddled her up and we headed on out
Feeling that it is times like this are what it’s about
Just me and my horse the world silent and white
Quietly trotting out to meet the day’s first light
She was tossing her head and wanting to go
Excited to be travelling on the year’s first snow
At first I was worried, afraid she would slip
But she told me in her way, she was up for the trip
So, I loosened the reins and away we did fly
I couldn’t have stopped her – I didn’t try
The snow was flying and the sky turning blue
When I realized this ride belonged to her too
I knew she was having even more fun than me
We both felt the thrill you feel being free
Her mane was blowing back as she kicked up heels
I knew she was remembering how a young filly feels
The reason I know what I’m saying is true
Is because I was feeling like young girl too
It had been a very long time, a good many years
Since I had turned it all loose, put away all my fears
I trusted her to carry me safely that day
To the place deep inside me where old memories lay
To a time I was young, carefree and bold
Before I turned 50, before she was sold
Back to a time when my very first horse and me
Ran alone in the snow with me laughing with glee
It all came back to me on that morning ride
Tears of a pure youthful joy I could no longer hide
I slowed my horse down and as we wandered along
The crunch of the snow played out like a song
There’s nothing else like it, no music so sweet
As the rhythm beat out by my mare’s four feet
Add to the mix my dog running happily astride
I felt the grin on my face stretching ever so wide
When it was over and I quietly walked at her side

I silently thanked her again for the wonderful ride

I gave her an apple for the new memory I’ll keep

I buried my face in her neck and breathed in deep

There is no better smell anywhere on this earth

There’s no way to explain just what it is worth

I turned her loose and away up the hill she did run

Glistening and golden in the mid-morning sun

It’s a magical thing, a treasure I know
To have such vivid memories of a ride in the snow


Christmas as a Grown Up

Clydesdales in the SnowThis time of year always stirs up memories of Christmas as we have known it over the years. Hopefully, these are some of your best memories. As we march on through time and our lives take those bends in the road, we tend to look at the holidays a little differently. We might find that those memories that we hold dearest and that warm our hearts the most are the very same ones that now cause us to stop and lament what is no more.

Memories that once held pure joy now hold a twinge of sorrow as we realize that times change and we are swept up in an inevitable progression. Our role changes as we move through childhood to young adult to parent and then onto being grandparents. We may long for the magic that centers around children – whether we are remembering our own youthful excitement, making that magic happen, or just watching it unfold. We may finally realize the effort and sacrifices our own parents made to be sure we had the best Christmas possible as we attempt to duplicate them. Mostly, we may just get a little lonely for that feeling when the immediate family was intact and under one roof for the big day. I know I do. What I wouldn’t do to have another Christmas with my mom, dad, grandmother and my 4 siblings all together again.

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