Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Phoenix Rising


ALL BOY, with impish dark brown eyes and a sharp wit, my son Ethan ambled dreamily through eye-high grass in the big front pasture, singing.

Spring is coming!
Spring is coming!
All around is fair
Shimmer, glimmer, on the river
Joy is everywhere!
Joy is everywhere!

Spring is coming!
Spring is coming!
Flowers waking too
Daisies, lillies, daffodillies
Now are coming through!
Now are coming through!

Eight years old and usually focused on building spaceships or digging giant holes in the yard, Ethan wandered the grassy field, lost in dreams of Spring. His sweet melody floated out across the yard, where it delighted my ears as I quietly stepped from the house to listen. My lower eyelids filled with plump, warm tears, blurring my vision pleasantly as I stood there leaning against the door frame, listening, smiling and feeling like the luckiest woman on Earth.

I tucked this moment away; it will make for pleasant recollection when I am a crusty old woman someday, the sweet remembrance of the spring day when I was a youthful 40, and my happy little boy stood singing in the pasture. Then I noticed that a few feet away, on the other side of the fence, Argus stood quietly in the winter dry lot, his head cocked, his eyes far away, listening reverently.


Spring has come to Watermark Farm, splashing wildflower pastels---mustard, lupine, daisies---across our fields as though Monet himself made a guest visit from Heaven and consented to decorate. The lone old flowering pear tree that stands sentinel at the farm's entrance, marking each season with her mood, erupted into a 30-foot-high mass of white flowers last month. On a windy day at the end of March, the loose blossoms tumbled across the front yard, like lazy drifts of snow.

Now, shiny emerald leaves signal the true arrival of Spring, promising shade and comfort for the dry, silvery California summer months ahead. The rainy season over for the most part (what little we did get), and the pasture ground firm enough to withstand the exuberant traffic of equine feet, it's time for the annual tradition of transitioning the winter-weary horses to pasture.

Argus, fresh from his most recent round of "perfect" blood-work (one last test to make sure he is truly beyond the grips of Pigeon Fever), is a changed horse. Something has happened over the last few weeks, something wonderful. His body has developed a kind of substance that I never thought I'd see, as if his muscles needed yet another spring in freedom to come to life. (Or, as a friend more bluntly put it: "Wow! Look at his ASS! He's RIPPED!" Secretly, I think Argus liked hearing that.)

Spring 2009:


Compared to Spring 2008. Argus' "knocked down hip," an old, healed fracture, is plainly visible, as is the top of his sacrum, which lacks surrounding muscle and shows, in its unevenness, its "hunter bump" which indicate past strain or injury to the area. This is quite common in working horses.


Seemingly overnight, Argus has turned into a big, strong horse, no longer pitifully waifish and wasp-waisted in stature, but solid, powerful, opinionated. He's feeling so good that I've taken to leaving a safety halter on him in turnout because he's naughty at times and refuses to let me catch him.


Ethan and his dad finished repairing the summer pasture gate, torn loose from its hinges by the lions of March. Argus, Odie and Half Pint, as if sensing (and savoring) my intentions for the afternoon, stood eagerly at the gate to freedom --- the gate between the winter dry lot and the 6 acres of barrel-deep grass beyond. Half Pint twitched with excitement, holding his breath as he does sometimes. Argus weaved madly, something he never does in pasture. Odie paced forward and back in his odd mule way, grunting softly.

(You may notice Caleb missing from the pictures. No, he's not been adopted yet. He's gone into full training at a hunter/jumper barn nearby. Ridge, of course, is sadly left behind in the barn, still recovering from a fractured pelvis.)

The sing-songy little voice reached me again, as I unlatched the gate.

"....Joy is everywhere!"

Like three Thoroughbreds bursting from the starting gate, Argus, Odie and Half Pint lunged for the summer pasture, barely getting through the gate before the urge to stick their nose in the tall grass overcame them, and they began to eat. "Only one hour today, you three," I reminded them sternly, but my words only fell on happy, deaf ears.













Albigears said...

Argus looks fabulous. I can't wait until our spring catches up with yours!

Sarah said...

How wonderful he looks! I love the way they have their noses buried in that beautiful, lush grass. Not a care in the world for those three, just the way it should be. Argus does look like a totally changed horse - and he is magnificent. Spring has brought renewal for him, too, by the sound of it. Seems like he has sloughed off his horrific old life and really embraced the way life should really be for a horse!

wvfarmgirl said...

Beautiful horses and lush pastures -- just what Spring should be! They all look great, especially Argus!

KD said...

What a sweet post ! I wish I could hear Ethan's voice singing his spring song.

cdncowgirl said...

Another thing to point out... Argus tail has grown back! :)
(quite quickly too)

The "old man" is looking mighty fine

Starbuck said...

This may be a little strange to say, but Argus looks like a real horse. Good work! He looks happy, plump, with a gorgeous full tail and a pretty, clean-looking white coat (and we all know how hard it can be to keep a white horse clean...) I would mistake him for a retired old show pony at this point, if I didn't know his history :)

That picture of Odie in the grass is also absolutely precious. I hope they're having as much fun as it sounds!

CTG Ponies said...

Another excellent post!! What a celebration that Argus is feeling naughty enough to avoid capture!

LuvMyTBs said...

What great photos!! I think Odie the mule could have his own book and blog! He is quite the character. I love that Argus is enjoying life as a real herd member,has fully recovered from his Pidgeon Fever and now even evades capture!! He obviously feels great and it's so nice to see pics of him again. Please keep us updated on Ridge's progress.I'm sure Argus misses his twin.

fullcircleequine said...

Ah Spring.
Absolutely gorgeous pictures

Anonymous said...

I am fascinated and amazed by the changes in Argus from 2008 to 2009, he looks AMAZING! (Tazzie from COTH)

excaliber813 said...

What a wonderful Spring update!
Ethan singing, pastures green with tall grass, the herd ready for their delightful romp!

The pictures are all fabulous, Argus looks absolutely stunning, and Odie's pictures looks like watercolor paintings!
Thought & prayers for Ridge.

Blessings to all @ Watermark Farm


Anonymous said...

What a difference in Argus! Amazing........a true testament to the care you've given him. Beautiful animals, pretty scenery, a lovely tune...what more could you ask for? Sure hope Ridge is able to join them soon.


Sport's Mom said...

He looks beautiful, Katie! You must be so proud to be a mom to such great kids, human and horse alike.

Janet Buckner said...

HE LOOKS AMAZING! You have done such an incredible job of helping him recover! Great JOB!

Claire said...

That's an incredible, unbelievable change - who would have thought Argus could ever look like that?

PaintedPromise said...

wow... jealous here! my horses live in the DIRT (and sometimes a few weekds lol)

beautiful pictures :) and Argus is like a caterpillar... he has now turned into a gorgeous butterfly!!!

Strawberry Lane said...

Argus looks great! Love the photos!
What beautiful pastures you have!

Schnitzie said...

Joy, well-earned. What an amazing transformation.

This is what folks in animal rescue live for. How sweet to see Argus frolicking with his family.

Love and positive juju to Ridge! Hope he will heal and be able to join the others very soon!

pchoofinit said...

Argies looks so healthy! I send wishes that all at Watermark have a healthy spring/summer/fall and future! Enjoy your children, they grow so fast and you cannot get their childhood back. Argies is sure filling out so wonderfully. All the love, sweat and tears that you Katie have put into him, it shows. Namaste

autumnblaze said...

Argus looks fanatastic. I'm glad he has the spunk to evade you. :)Lucky boy he is.

The pictures are wonderful by the way! Happy ponies always make me smile.

FuglyAtHeart said...

My does Argus look excellent or what?! And happy:) So glad to see the old man thriving and enjoying life;)

Anonymous said...

No news is good news, but I miss your post and up dates on Argus and the rest of your beautiful creatures. Hoping for an up date soon.

Anonymous said...

Have a peaceful Memorial Day. Argus is looking good.

Ellie Mae Today said...

Katie, we need an update on all the critters (oh, and you and your family too).

Hope everyone is doing well.