The horse's pasture to the East...

Sunday, January 2, 2011


My Mom wore penny loafers. I still remember waking up in the morning and listening to her scuff down the hallway to the kitchen.

I'd lay there in my bed with my dog curled up next to me, burrowed down into the covers just exactly right. I loved my little room at the end of the hallway. I designed it myself. All of my furniture was white and the walls were a clear, soft lavender color...just the color you see at the end of the day along the rim of the earth as the sun goes down. That was why I chose it.

Schotsi, my dachshund (She really wasn't supposed to be on the bed. It was one of our stolen pleasures.) and I would watch the sun come up through my window and listen to Mom get breakfast ready. She'd hum and sing one of her favorite songs while she scrambled eggs or made oatmeal. "Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at supper time. Be my little sugar...and love me all the time!" I loved getting up. New day, new things to do, new adventures, people, places to go. I never knew what was going to happen and I loved that feeling. Still do too.

When my sons were little, I'd do the same. I loved repeating that pattern. It made me feel like my Mom was right there with me, maybe sharing a cup of that coffee she loved so well while she sat at the kitchen table, watching me get the day started for my family. She died right after my first son was born, so it was always in my head that she was there, talking and laughing with me about whatever adventure the boys had been on the day before. And I always knew when she really was there because I'd find a penny, just like the pennies she wore in her loafers.

I'd find my penny on the floor next to the stove, or under the kitchen table and sometimes I'd find it in my pocket, even when the jeans I'd put on that morning were fresh and clean from the laundry. I never questioned my pennies and the odd places they showed up. They were there, so my Mom was too.

Today, when I went out to whistle in the horses, there at my feet was a penny. It was inside a hoof print left by Lucky. (I can tell my horse's separate hoof prints. Apache's is perfectly round and thick walled. Lucky's is more oval and slightly smaller than Apache's.) Now how in the world did a penny end up in my melting paddock inside Lucky's hoof print? And a new print too. The sides were still sharp. I could even see the outline of the frog. I squatted down to look at it. Maybe it had been there before and now it was frozen into the mud? It wasn't. It was sitting on top.

I smiled as I picked it up. Mom was there. She's been my Penny Angel for all of these 36 years since she died, always there when I needed some comfort or there when I had something wonderful to share. Today I think it was because I felt like celebrating. It's a new year! A new start! Anything is possible.

As I squatted there in my cold little paddock, I felt a presence over me. When I looked up, there was Lucky leaning over looking at me! His ears were forward, asking a question. "What's going on Ma? Any carrots down there? You OK?" I stood up and ran my hand down his neck and settled into him, thinking about how he made me think of warm beds in the morning, and I smiled at him too. I told him " Just the penny angel, leaving us a gift to start the new year with. Wanna see it?"

By then Apache was standing next to me, on the other side. I held up my dirty little penny so they could see it. Then I held it down so they could smell it. They both took their time, examining it thoroughly with that amazing upper lip a horse has. And then we just stood there, watching the sun go down together. We didn't do anything flashy, nothing at all in fact. Just stood there and sighed together.

Here's an interesting thing I've noticed this year, maybe because I'm a bit more Savvy than I was last year? When I'm not taking them out every single day and and working on something...patterns, games, precision, whatever my monkey brain is obsessed with at the moment...they're softer, happier and more connected. Aaahhhhhh. How interesting! Horses love doing nothing, just hanging and being in the moment. And they're letting me know that by coming to me right away, every single time I'm out there, because this year I wasn't able to keep working with them through the holidays.

I'd caught a cold and family were coming (first doggone cold in nine years!). Something had to give, so "training" was where I gave. Hmmmmmmm. How VERY interesting! Doing nothing is important too. Stopping and resting, just being in the moment like my herd, was what they'd needed. Maybe THAT was why I'd found my penny. Maybe the Penny Angel was telling me that allowing myself to relax and enjoy my life with them was just exactly right. I know the horses were telling me that.

So my new focus this year is digging into and really trying to understand what Pat Parelli wants us to know about the Qualities of a Horseman. Tonight I thought about #2 RESPECT (respect for the herd and their needs), #6 FEEL (putting myself into their hoof prints), # 7 TIMING (understanding the time to work and the time to rest), #9 SAVVY (always working on this one...never ending self improvement!), and #10 EXPERIENCE  (This one comes with time and deliberate practice of ALL aspects of horse-man-ship, including knowing when to rest).

Oh my. A whole new year in front of me, all brand new and shiney like the perfect new pennies my Mom always wore in her loafers. Anything is possible!

I am, ever yours, Nancy, grinning because it's only just begun!


Parelli Central said...

Ok, this is my all time favorite Nancy blog!!!!

Petra Christensen
Parelli 2Star Junior Instructor
Parelli Central

Nancy, smiling! said...

Mine too. I love it when the pennies show up. My Mom would have loved Lucky, Apache and Willow. For being a scientist and mathematician, she was very intuitive and good with animals.

I always feel good when she's here, watching.

Nancy, who's made a promise to buy a scanner so I can scan in some photos of her too...smiling, of course!