Roaming Soft About the Slope

The mare roamed soft about the slope,
Her rump was like a dancing girl’s.
Gentle beneath the apple trees
She pulled the grass and shook the flies,
Her forelocks hung in tawny curls,
She had a woman’s limpid eyes,
A woman’s patient stare that grieves.
And when she moved among the trees,
The dappled trees, her look was shy,
She hid her nakedness in leaves.
A delicate though weighted dance
She stepped while flocks of finches flew
From tree to tree and shot the leaves
With songs of golden twittering;
How admirable her tender stance.
And then the apple trees were new,
And she was new, and we were new,
And in the barns the stallions stamped
And shook the hills with trumpeting.
~Ruth Stone, “The Orchard” from What Love Comes To

Our retired mares are aging, the oldest now thirty and the others only a few years younger. Born on this land, they have served us well over the decades, birthing us their foals and working when asked. They deserve this easy life on pasture for as long as their legs and feet will carry them up and down the slopes of our hilly farm – they are more and more resembling our ancient crooked crippled orchard trees, some of which have already toppled in the winter winds..

I’m thinking we are close to the end of these loyal mares’ long lives; hard decisions must be made at some point and I don’t feel quite prepared to determine when they are no longer enjoying their time under the sun but I don’t want them to topple over like an old hollow tree in the wind. I listen for their nickers as I come into the barn each morning and still see their eagerness to be set free to the fields. I look in their eyes when they come in at night to discern what they have to say about how their day went out on the grass.

Perhaps I too identify a bit much with the stiffness as they move and their need for frequent napping times in the field, swishing at flies while they dream of younger days of flirting with stallions, nursing babies, having suppler joints and a wild gallop at twilight.

I’ve been singing a sad lullaby to myself and them as I work about the barn with slow deliberation, knowing there is somber sorrow when life eventually must come to its inevitable end.

Ah, all the pretty little horses…


Make a one-time or recurring donation to support daily Barnstorming posts

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Your contribution is deeply appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

5 thoughts on “Roaming Soft About the Slope

  1. Praise God that not one sparrow is forgotten before Him! Luke 12:6. But it’s never easy for us. May God continually bless and comfort all the animals in His kingdom. Such precious gifts to us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Emily,

    I always enjoy your posts. This one, though, really reached in to my heart, urged me to grab a few handfuls of loving compassion for your situation and fling it over to you across the miles.

    The Haflingers are so beautiful. I could imagine a book with just photos of them (on your glorious land), with stories and poems to accompany.

    Thank you for sharing yourself. Your blog is my favorite.

    Gratefully, Melinda

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your horses are so beautiful.  We recently had to put our 13 year old golden retriever to sleep to put her out of pain so I resonated with your words about our animals and ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have read and re-read your beautiful, evocative but realistic account of your aging mares. I was transfixed and more than a little teary as I personified three of their possible thoughts or feelings in the milieu that you present in your pictures numbered 1-3

    #1 Heading ‘home,” as witnessed by “Old Faithful,” who has silently witnessed most of the land’s
    #5 That intimate, self-revealed knowing, accepted inner gaze…
    #8 The familiar but bitter-sweet memories of a life full of useful, meaningful labor surrounded by loving
    care and mutual love

    These have made me muse a little on my future ‘time,’ as well.
    Thank you..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.