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  • Christie Bonham

The Field of Life

Yesterday, as I drove down the road leading into our barn to go riding, I watched the horses as they bantered about in the field next to me. Milagro and the rest of the geldings were lined up along side the fence. He was head wrestling with one horse while another, his friend Stanley, held onto Milagros blanket in his mouth, pulling it up into the air in clear annoyance of Milagro. As he pinned back his ears and did his best to break free, one would think it looked like he was being picked on like a school boy taunt, I almost felt sorry for him. Almost.

Winter brings about a whole new world of "war games" as we call it. The green pastures of spring and summer turn into frozen ground. Barren of grass for grazing, they are soon covered with snow, and with snow comes mud and muck. The leisurely days of the forgotten summer turn into taunts and games. Boredom brings about some naughty behavior. And with a herd of 13 tall, stout and powerful horses gaming about for fun, things can get complicated.

But the field is large and wide with plenty of room to retreat from the action. Some of the horses choose to move along quickly when the big boys get going, they simply step aside. But not Milagro.

At 14.1 hands he is one of the smallest in the herd. And that .1 hand counts volumes because it is what differentiates him from being a horse rather than a pony. To Milagro its the difference between being a boy and being a man. And being that he is a horse, a small horse mind you, he see's himself as strong and as commanding as any of the other horses. Sure they are 17 hands or more and half his age. But that's not whats important. His sense of confidence, and his sheer guts and will, keep him in the game.

After he heard me call his name he broke from the others and trotted over to me. Ever so proud to have been front and center of the action. He was like a kid running to the sidelines for a slice of orange or a squeeze of Gatorade. His ears were perked high and forward, his face bright with pride. I could only sigh, and whisper "you take it easy on those boys would you". Because rather than feel sorry for him, I know he chooses this. He chooses to engage with the others. He chooses challenge over retreat. This is how he lives his life. And its quit obvious that he enjoys this to no end.

Soon, the snow will stop falling, the days will grow longer and the earth will warm once again to grow new grasses to be grazed. The "war games" of winter will come to an end, and Milagro, Stanley, Stakki, Killian and the others will go back to a more tender way of playing on the field of life. One by one they will be turned out from their comfy stalls of night to gallop across the beautiful green pasture to meet up with each other. Their nuzzling and gentle play will return. And as the seasons change again, I am reminded of the importance of staying in the game. Keeping your sense of self front and center, believing in yourself in the challenges on the field of life. Milagro shows me, again and again, how pivotal it is to stay strong, be brave, and face things head first even if it scares you sometimes. You can always take a time out, just don't stay on the sidelines for too long.

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