Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Ride Through The Rough Patches"

Howdy Folks,

He stopped under the oak on his way to the barn, looked out to his mare, and whistled. She raised her head, then after a pause, came to his side. Draping his arm over her neck he let her bear his weight. They stood a moment, him leaning on her, she accepting the weight. She was a good mare, always seemed to know when to corral her attitude and just be a friend. She did that today.

Rough patches are a part of life. Someone once said it's the rough patches that make the rest of life shine. Rough patches come sometimes out of the blue. Other times a body can see them coming, but when they get here they're just as rough as any other kind. Losing a friend, sometimes you can see that coming, and he had, for a while now. But now that it happened the time hadn't really done much to ready his heart for the heaviness. Walking back from the grave was when the real finality set in.

Not much to do about it. Just have to move on, get along with things, they say. Recently there had been too many, losing friends, rough patches. They all feel the same, so dammed final. Some friends are closer than others, and those make the widest rough patch. This was a wide one.

Without lifting his arm, he started for the barn. The mare knew to follow. Holding her head low she took his weight and stopped when he did, at the tack door. He wasn't much in the mood for all the preliminaries, so he brushed only where the blanket fit, slid on her halter, tossed up the saddle and swung right up in the barn, then rode out the door. His dog trotted behind.

He didn't ask for anything, just a slow steady walk, hadn't even bothered with reins, today just the rope would do. His mare knew what to do. She knew the trails. He could just sit, think about their old friend and ride through the rough patch.
His plan was to let his mare do the heavy lifting, he would simply sit and think. Part of the strategy of riding through a rough patch was doing nothing. Let the horse do the work while he contemplated then, as the familiar gait softened his hard heart, he could begin to see the beauty in the world around them. The mare knew her duty, accepted it and without a single misstep did it. 

The sun warmed their backs as they moved slowly along the wooded trail. Before long he realized there were a great many butterflies about that spring afternoon. The mare walked softly onward, and before he realized it he found himself looking for butterflies. They were everywhere, on the wildflowers, the tree branches, the greening grass, even the mud along the trail. He lost count in the thirties.

Watching butterflies he decided to hunt wildflowers too. The best place for wildflowers was a small ravine by the big stream, but that meant a mighty steep decline. It was this time last year they were searching for the same wildflowers and he knew his mare would remember the tricky path, and she did.

Their walk, with a little slide mixed in, was rewarded with a grand bouquet of wild flowers. Some dozen varieties grow in this little lost haven, some in bloom, some not quite ready yet, but all splendid. It was here they enjoyed the best bird watching of the rough patch ride too. By now his heart was a little lighter, and it was time to head back. First they had that steep hill to negotiate, and his mare took it in stride, as was her duty this day.

Back on the safe trail though, something must have told her he'd shed some of his heavy heart, and she decided she'd earned a bit of a heel kicking romp. She tested his resolve with a quick head tossing flatwalk, then without waiting for a cue, or permission, shifted seamlessly to a slow canter. Her silliness painted his first smile on his face. He wondered after the initial crowhop if she was truly trying to make him laugh, which he did, or just flat being naughty. He thought reins would be nice right about now … Then let go a hearty laugh and turned her loose.

When life plants rough patches in your way, lean on a friend and ride right through it.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry


  1. Thank you for a heart lifting story. It is a good one to share over and over again. :)

  2. As always I feel like I can smell the flowers and see the butterflies and be there as you and the mare ride. I'm glad you are feeling better and enjoyed this short story. You have a way with words that brings everything you write in beautiful color. Thank you Dutch Henry. You have a nice day and take care. Kathryn