By Kathleen Haynie

I drive by her turn-out, roll down the passenger car window to greet her with my best whinny. I can see her whinny ripple through the flesh of her sorrel and white soft muzzle. That muzzle will soon be buried in the red wheat bran she knows is coming. This time it is laced with bute to ease her pain from her sprained right knee. I hope the alfalfa sprinkles camouflage the taste of bute.*

She is not too distracted with the hay and grain to lift each foot in turn so I can clean out the V ruts of each frog. After seventeen years, we know the drill. The curry comb pulls off twigs of the white winter coat on her back and haunches.

Somehow the earth tells her body that it’s time to start letting go as the days grow longer. Yet the nights are still so very cold. Her new coat is a little whiter, a little redder, a little softer to touch. I have to lean down to nuzzle in that soft dipped curve between her shoulder and neck in order to take in the smell of sweet salty horse sweat. At nine years of age my nose was at the same level of that spot.

Now I look up at the open blue sky and see a few puffs of white cumulus, and feel on my face the crisp ocean air coming across the valley. The constant rhythm of her teeth grinding the grain soothes the time. A desperately needed calming moment.

*Phenylbutazone, often referred to as “bute, “is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for the short-term treatment of pain and fever in animals. (Source:

Kathleen Haynie. This City Girl turned into a Sonoma County Horse Girl, and then retired from decades as a professional in health care. She is now acting out a latent inclination for the dramatic arts as a drama student and cast member of Off the Page Readers Theater. Surprisingly, the journey continues into the newly found delight discovered in written expression. Kathleen felt honored to have her work, What They Did to Alice, performed at the 6th Street Playhouse 2020 Women’s Festival. She has decided that dark chocolate is perfect with a full-bodied red wine.

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