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November 18, 2012: Oh Horses, How art Thou?

Bernie Willis, the owner of Arctic Arrow Farm, on more than one occasion has said that “having horses gives me a good reason to get up in the mornings.” This morning, as I came to consciousness, his statement came back to mind. The wind was blowing so hard that our now sturdy cabin was shaking on its foundation. I opened my eyes and saw the birch trees arching their backs, and for a moment, continued to listen to the seemingly never-ending howling. I considered rolling over and going back to sleep, but I decided against this. I instead gathered

Tinni, Siggi, and Raudi wait for breakfast

together the clothes that I’d piled at the foot of the bed, and one by one, under cover, put on each item. Then I crawled out of bed and put on suit, gloves, boots, and hats. (I wear a baklava and a heavier wool hat when it’s really windy. Before heading out, I glanced at Rainbow whose expression indicated that she’d decided to sleep in.

Once outside, I trundled down to the horse enclosure and took in the sight. The phrase “bright eyed and bushy tailed,” immediately came to mind. Manes and tails were windblown, and eyes were wide. All snorted and bumped into one another, each wanting to be the one to get at that first flake of morning hay. The one other onlooker was a large male moose, who was standing on the far side of our property line.

I next pitched into my morning chores, going with my now predictable morning routine. I fed, mucked the pen and shelter areas, and broke the thin layer of ice that had formed on the water buckets. The dogs, rushing down to greet me, said hello and then went to bark at Mr. Moosey. Their appearance meant that Pete was now firing up the woodstove. After breakfast, he’d add warm water to what had not yet been consumed.

As I finished filling the sled with manure, it occurred to me that I was enjoying the blustery morning. And furthermore, I wasn’t as uncomfortable as I presumed that I might be. The enclosure is on the low part of our property, so it’s not as windy as it is up at the house. Too, I was able to catch the sun rise up over the Chugach Range, and as well, take in the morning sky, which was now a solid gray blue. Yes, at that moment I felt a feeling that was akin to euphoria.

Pete, at breakfast, suggested that we take Signy, Siggi, and the dogs for a walk. Hearing this, I considered saying that we go back to bed. But of course, I inwardly conceded that we all needed the exercise. Pete was, indeed the motivator. And of course, once I got going, I had no regrets. The animals were all glad to be out and about. Hrimmi was in fact so eager to get going that she practically dragged me down to the road. I did not in any way reprimand her, for this was a very welcome change. During the months of September and October, she was slow to get moving, and in fact we wondered if something was amiss.

We made it to trailhead in short order, and were then sheltered from the wind by tree cover. It was (of course) a wonderful walk. The dogs and Hrimmi bounded about, and Signy ambled along beside Pete. I brought up the rear, taking photos. I noted to Pete that since acquiring her that Signy’s become a very relaxed individual, as is apparent in her eyes, which are now far softer than they used to be. Gone is the old attitude which is “I will do what you want if you do things my way.” Rather, this has been replaced by a new attitude which is “I don’t always understand the logic behind your actions, but I now don’t mind doing things your way. You two are at least trying to do right by me and by my daughter.”

Once home, I tucked myself into the foaling stall where Hrimmi and Signy are now waiting out the wind storm. I then stood in the sun and groomed Hrimmi. Pete and I then took photos of her for an article for TTeam Connection. Of course, Tinni, Raudi, and Siggi looked on.

I did not go for a ride today. I figured that I’d take advantage of the inclement weather by finishing up some unfinished writing projects. Together, Pete and I are now getting ready to put Raudi’s Story up as a kindle book. We’ll do this in the next few days. We’ve timed it so that this book will come out right before the holidays, and as well the premiere of the hobbit movie, in which there are several Icelandic horses.

Having the horses here at home has indeed been life changing. Yes, I do regret that I’m not able to go as far afield as I’d like. (For instance, if we did not have horses, I’d now be in Hawaii or Cuba.) But I am now outdoors far more on a daily basis than I’d be if they lived elsewhere.

The horses are also providing me with subject matter for my writing. It’s very challenging, finding the balance between writing about, and tending to them. For example, when I’m doing one, I’m often thinking about doing the other. But the tradeoff is that if I was horseless, this and other dispatches would be non-existent.

Next: 344. 11/19/12: Siberia, USA