by Emily Polis Gibson
I’m almost sixty three, deep into my middle age and some days I’m reminded how deep more than others. Though I’m well past the hot flashes of the last decade, I still compare notes with the aging mares on our farm and watch how well they cope with their advancing years.
These mares still have a lot of life left. They run like the wind when turned loose, their hair flies in the wind and they can buck, kick and fart with the best of them.
These mares know who they are. There is no identity crisis here. They are mothers who have finished their mothering years, and are well into the grandmothering years. Even so, they still like to flirt and haven’t given up on the idea that they can attract attention from a certain fella in the neighboring field.
These mares know their jobs very well, sometimes too well and anticipate what is being asked before it is requested. They can go for long periods without work but once saddled or harnessed up and pointed in the right direction, it is like they’ve been doing their job every day for years. No need for a steep learning curve, or reminder lessons. No funny business or messing around. There is pride in their work. They can be a bit out of shape though, with a tendency toward the fluffy side of fitness, so they need a moment to catch their breath once in awhile. Their muscles sometimes hurt the next day. They break out in sweat easily. They appreciate a break for a mid-day nap.
These mares are opinionated. There is no question they know their own minds, what they want and how they are going to get it and keep no one around them guessing.
These mares are stubborn. Once they’ve decided something, it takes more than soft sweet persuasion, like a whack on the behind, to change course. Once they’ve decided they don’t like another horse, the only way to change that opinion is for the other horse to adopt an attitude of complete servitude and submission, giving way whenever approached and grooming the boss mare whenever asked.
These mares are hungry. Always. See “fluffy” above.
These mares don’t sleep all that much, but wish they could sleep more. Even though they might look like they are napping (see “mid-day nap” above), they are actually meditating, with their eyes closed, on the next plan of action.
These mares are not as fussy about their appearance as they used to be. The four foot manes have been rubbed down to two foot manes and may have a few more tangles in them. Their tails may have stains (don’t ask why). They stride through mud puddles without a second thought to where the dirt flies, whereas when they were younger, there was no way one hoof was going to set foot in such mucky stuff.
These mares don’t keep as tidy a bedroom as they used to. Why bother? Life is too short for tidiness.
These mares know how to make best friends and keep them. If their best forever friend is not turned out with them in the field, they will stand at the gate, and call nonstop for an hour asking where she is.
These mares know how to give great kisses and hugs. Especially if you are hiding a carrot on your person, you’ll be mugged.
Yes, we deep-in-middle age gals, human and equine, do seem to have a lot in common. Nice to know we can always stick together, through thick and …well, thick.
This post first appeared here. Photos courtesy of Emily Polis Gibson.
Emily Polis Gibson is a wife, mother, farmer and family physician, living the rural life in northwest Washington state. She’s been chronicling life on the farm, in the barn and in the exam room for over a decade, though her emphasis is on raising our family in faithful stewardship to our God and to the land she calls home for the time being. Her writing has been featured in Country Magazine by Reiman Publications/Readers Digest, KevinMD.com, aholyexperience.com, www.patheos.com, her.menuetics, The Jane Effect, Everbloom, and Between Midnight and Dawn. She’s a member of the Redbud Writers Guild.