Today is the 10 year anniversary of the day Farletta (Follow Me Friend) came into my life. Here is an excerpt from my unpublished memoir. The day she became mine: April 21, 2006
The large trailer door swung open; old, rusted hinges protesting with squeaks and groans. Rain pelted my face as a cold, sharp wind blew through my too-thin hooded sweatshirt. It was late April in Kentucky but it was still quite cold. Add the clouds, rain and wind and it was one of those days which made your fingers turn red, numb and fairly ineffective at performing any task which required even a small degree of dexterity. Damp air seeped into my body where it would linger for hours, keeping me chilled well after I returned home and changed into dry clothes.
I peered inside the cavernous stock trailer. It was large enough to hold several head of cattle which made the tiny mare tied inside seem all the smaller as she stood looking at me, a curious expression on her face. Having come from northern Illinois, the mare still held on to her shaggy winter coat while the horses here in central Kentucky had already let go of much of theirs. She was soaking wet from the rain splashing through the ventilation slats on the upper portion of the trailer. Dirt and grime stuck to the mare’s wet coat creating tiny rivulets of muddy water, resulting in dark streaks of filth running down her spindly legs.
She was much smaller than I’d imagined, looking more like a small yearling than the three-year-old I knew her to be. The mare stood quietly as she took in her surroundings through her limited view out the trailer door. She lifted her head; her little body shook as a high pitched whinny erupted from her belly, exiting out of her dainty mouth. A nearby horse answered her call with a mildly interested whinny; the little mare responded with a robust and throaty nicker. She shuffled her feet, her hooves making hollow clonk-clonk sounds as she struck the hard wood floor of the trailer.
I stepped cautiously into the trailer, talking to the little mare. Her eyes widened as she looked at me but she did not show fear. I spoke softly to her as I slowly approached her left side and placed my hand on her neck. The mare pushed her muzzle toward me and I let her sniff my hands. Seemingly satisfied I was a friend rather than a foe, she took a half step back and waited for me to untie her. Together we turned and stepped off the trailer into the cold wind and driving rain.
Dief came out of the barn where he had been intently watching my interactions with the little mare. “Aahroooo-wooo-oooo!” He yodeled, greeting the new horse while hanging back a bit as he assessed the situation. With the little mare safely off the trailer, Dief trotted up to greet her while maintaining a respectful distance.
“What do you think?” I asked him.
“Aaahroooooo-woooo!” Dief answered, wagging his stump tail slowly from side to side.
“I think so too.”
Together we walked to a small paddock with a run-in shed. There was a pile of fresh hay in the corner of the small, three-sided building and the little mare went right to it, eagerly lowering her head to have a taste. I could see her ribs under her wet coat. I suspected winter had been tough on her. Her shoulders and hindquarters were slab-sided and underdeveloped. After eating a few mouthfuls of hay she walked over to me, stretching her neck while lifting her muzzle up toward my face. I blew softly into her nostril; she breathed in my scent before returning to her hay, daintily selecting a few long stems, chewing and swallowing them before taking a bit more.
“Hey you,” I whispered softly to her “I like you.” The little mare lifted her head and looked at me as she chewed a mouthful of hay. I reached out and gave her a pat on the neck, and told her I’d see her later that evening. Stepping out of the shed I turned toward the gate where Dief was waiting patiently for me.
“Aahrooo-ooo!” He yodeled at me.
“Yeah, I’m ready,” I said. “Let’s go.” I went through the paddock gate securing it behind me. Dief fell in line at my heels as we walked across the barn yard to my truck.
“Oooo-oooo” Dief yodeled softly.
“I agree,” I said with a smile.
Cheryl L. Eriksen, MSW, Equine Enthusiast, EAGALA groupie and writer of interesting, educational and entertaining blog posts!