It MUST be spring.

We took the guys off the pasture today. We had to. The horses were beginning to look like professional mud-wrestlers, and the pasture more like ground beef than a grass bed. Taking them off sounds easy. It’s not. We had to go buy a new panel for the expanded and wonderful new Jetta Jail, and another gate, then we had to switch one of the big gates with the panel to the south of it (because of the newly expanded and wonderful Jetta Jail) – which means we (and I mean G) had to dig the panel and gate out of six inches of something like permafrost.

When we got that finished, we unloaded the new panel and gate. Then we had to take an ice pick to the last panel, which had wintered on the north side of the barn, and was three feet in ice. At that point, we opened the driveway gate. We have a gate way down at the end, where the drive meets the road, and the driveway is lined with fences. But it’s always thrilling territory to our five guys, who discovered the open arena gate and filed through, eyes huge – as if they’d never escaped before in their lives.

They headed happily down the drive, sure that there must be grass to find, and spent a while sadly standing with their heads over the closed gate at the end of the drive, gazing longingly at the drippy, muddy pasture they’d just left. Then they gave it up, and the rodeo began. Suddenly, here they came, one after the other in a perfect line, pounding back up the drive like lions were after them – heads up, tails up, blood up. They galloped by (no cantering here), back through the arena gate, hooves throwing mud everywhere, and began a mad spring dance. They kicked. They reared. Sophie, who is our most heavy and awkward horse jumped all four feet off the ground at once. They thundered out onto the poor pasture, gouging and slipping and whirling and chasing, then back into the arena, down the driveway, back up the driveway and through the arena into the pasture again.

My Zion stopped his floating trot (tail so high, it was curving over his back like a Malamute’s) and stood tall, alert and lovely, staring at me and doing a series of short, explosive snorts. Blood up indeed. His legs were set to run, his ears were pricked, he was ready for anything, and so was Dustin.

Then we started assembling the jail. And everyone had to come in and examine the tools, and smell the new gate, and gaze in a puzzled manner at the panel which was now where the old gate had been – and check out the old gate in the new place, smelling it, and maybe bravely stepping through it onto the pasture. Tiger could not leave us alone. He wanted to know everything. He wanted to know why. He wanted to know how. He wanted to be inside the new space, and outside the new space, and he wanted to open the new gate with his nose.

It was a very exciting morning. At the end of it, Jetta had a new house, better than a jail, and was safe, eating her dinner, from all gelding or mare depredations. Only one thing I’d forgotten. And since I didn’t go to the pasture to feed the next day – sending the boys out into the drizzle and rain, I didn’t remember for a full day. Last night, more than half asleep, this flash of knowledge came into my head – like a sudden instant messenger thing: Jetta had no water.

I sat up, grabbed Guy, and at one in the morning, went out to rescue the poor girl. I felt like trash. It hadn’t been hot. In fact it had been cool and wet – but my gosh. What an idiot. We walked down the long drive in the cloud diffused light of a hidden moon, answered softly all the questioning nickers, and let the girl out. There was some shuffling around, but soon enough, Sophie took her turn in the jail, and Jetta drank for three minutes straight.

All is fine now. There is water in the mare house. There is safety there, too. And spring is coming. With all its mud and mess and promise, it is finally coming.

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