By Kathy King Johnson, M.Ed.
Now it's all up to you, you tiny, precious newborn thing. I walk in the barn and there you are, a perfect bundle in the middle of a bed of straw, your ears up, head up, looking at me. A joyous package, clean and silky, like the stork dropped you in the middle of the night. Mama Red has been busy. Sneaky mare, like most. You are cleaned, fed, and practically diapered.
You have the most beautiful head I've seen on a TB, dished face, small ears and bright, intelligent eyes. Curly little devil horns swivel at every sound. But your eyes, your eyes are beautiful , eager but opaque, assessing, taking it all in. They are both blank slate and all knowing.
When I say "hi," you whinny back. Do you remember my voice from the hours spent talking when I groomed Red? I pet you, all over. You like it. When you start to move, I back away, giving you room.
You are restless, spunky, ready to go. Legs akimbo, knobby knees, you wobble up to follow me. Red trusts me with you. She is happy to see me too, because she is really, really hungry. She had a long night.
Over the next 24 hours, you develop an attitude. You kick your mother. You buck and run and rear. You are athletic and impertinent. And quite cute.
And in the following 24 hours, you have developed some manners. Your mother will only tolerate so much saucy behavior. She's young but she's not going to take your sass.
I love watching you and your mother. It is down time for me, just to observe and reflect. I've been busy, mule show, trips to CSU for horse surgery, new babies, new horses on top of programs and executive directing. Busy is good. It takes my mind from the pain. I pace from the pain by moving from project to project, task to task, staying busy from morning til night. I am walking, talking, thinking, writing, listening, communicating all the time.
Around you, I don't have to think about words for awhile. I don't have to think about them swirling, reversing, adding, deleting, disappearing or perseverating. I don't have to think about nuance, context , or sarcasm. I don't even have to speak.
I can listen and I can watch. Sounds in nature aren't directed but somehow they're orchestrated. The snow bombs plop like fat white pillows. The starlings flit and chitter in the trees, sending motes of snow into the air. And the horses chewing their hay. Chewing, chomping, swishing, stomping. Sometimes barely moving. Deep snow, wet snow changes the sounds, like we are underwater. Time is slow.
But you, little one, learn like lightning. I can see you grow in front of me. You are tormenting your mother. You tickle her leg and she moves it. You tickle it again and she moves again. It is a dance. And then she gets sick of it and bares her teeth and makes her best mare face. But she doesn't touch you. She knows where you are. And somehow, despite being 2 days old, you know where she is. You move out of her way when she asks. You follow her because she's the most interesting thing in your environment. You've inspected every inch of it.
Not too many people have met a foal as young as you before. The children delight when you walk to them, fearless. Adults laugh and smile at your antics. We sit mesmerized, hours on end.
Your birth and your newness make us alive. You fill our souls with joy and laughter, help us smile and make us love. You are fresh, vital springtime, bouncing, floating, rearing, racing fast as the sun across the sky.