Y’all remember young Aras. He was born here not quite two years ago, when suddenly, tragically, his mother dropped dead on his third day with us. I’ll never forget that Summer. We all took turns bottle feeding him out in his pen every three hours. We had no way of knowing if he had ingested enough colostrum from his mom, so the first week or so none of us slept much, worried that we’d wander out to see him only to find him gone too. He made it, we made it, and he has spent his whole life in our back pasture. Until today. Today he begins the process of becoming a horse. He will not be able to just turn his beautiful head and look over at us for comfort or reassurance. He’s gone off on walk-about.
At least he’s not alone. His half-sister and surrogate mom is with him, as are the two newest members of the herd, a three yr old gelding that is my rider, and a four yr old spotted saddle mare that is the Primary Wife’s, um, primary mount. Yesterday we spent the day moving enormous rolls of hay that they probably won’t eat, (we are blessed with abundant Winter pasture) and moving their troughs. We removed potentially dangerous obstacles around the barn, closed the gates, and then walked them two by two down the hill and into the holding pen, before turning them loose to feast on the fescue grass.
For Aras, this will probably be pretty scary. He’s number four in the herd hierarchy, an important element of the herd to be sure, but not as much fun as being number 1. Or 2. Or 3.
So we turn loose of a pet today, and it is likely we will get back a horse next Spring. He will be forced to deal with the elements without a man-made structure for cover. He will have to figure out that barbed-wire really hurts if you run into it. He will be startled by a rabbit, deer, or even a coyote countless times. He will have to learn to stick close to the other herd members, since me and Mom are not within eyesight. There are ponds to drink from for the first time. The hills and hollers will probably build up his chest and legs as he negotiates his way around.
As Coma would say, all of this is “of the good”, but I am fighting back the impulse to go check on him every 10 minutes.
I’ve decided to do it every 15 minutes instead.