Horse Show Mornings

A friend on Facebook posted a picture of the laneway down to the paddocks at the facility I ride at.

It was a Saturday morning, she had just arrived to start her day showing one of the horses, and it was such a beautiful shot of the mist still lingering around the trees and fenceposts. Silent and peaceful ahead of the cacophony of a show barn on show day.

I sat and stared at that picture for awhile. The ache was not full force, but right then, I wanted to be there, experiencing the bustle of the morning. So many sensations worked their way through my memory, weaving in and out as I fell into the rabbit hole of the past, especially of the farm, and my horses.

I loved the walk up to the barn in the morning, seeing my horses gallop up through the mist when I called them for their early breakfast. They would careen through the loafing-shed pen, freshly coated in a healthy layer of dew. They would nicker and revel in post-gallop full body shakes, sending droplets of water in all directions, eyes bright in anticipation of their grain.

I used to stand at the gate, coffee in my hands, my own eyes heavy from a short night’s sleep, and let them blow their grassy breath on my face, jostling for position until we brought them all in. Happy snorts would fill the air in the barn. My herd knew when it was a horse show morning, because they were all in the barn late while the lucky candidate was braided (after dark) the night before. Horse show mornings meant early grain, and excitement as one of them got to leave for the day.

Those first few moments of quiet and peace, seeing the mist rising in tendrils off the pasture, hearing the early songs of birds from the big Oak trees, and feeling the first frisson of anticipation for the day was one of my absolute favourite things. Sometimes I would stand in the big rolling doorway once we opened it, leaning on the doorframe, just breathing in the moisture from the air, centring my mind before I had to get moving.

So that picture, in a heartbeat, brought memory into sharp focus, in contrast to the gossamer edges of the foggy fence lines and sand ring it captured.  It brought a wish for one of those “this is why I do it” validations that scatter through the effort and craziness that is showing horses.

Maybe someday I’ll be standing in the doorway again, having a Horse Show Morning moment. It won’t be exactly the same, of course, I don’t own my own horses or take care of my own barn anymore.

But I have a hunch it will feel very familiar. 



The quiet hush of daybreak permeates around the kitchen. Even the small clink of a knife clattering on the counter, or the margarine tub lid squeaking sounds deafening. I am hestitating to make any more noise, revelling in the absolute quiet around me. I need to have quiet to recharge. Somehow, my introversion provides the fuel for my extraversion.

The dawn is unfolding, shapes outside the window barely discernable from the blanket of night lifting slowly. In about two and a half hours, all the junior school children will line up in front of our driveway to step onto the bus, their chatter always reaching us as we too get ready for the day ahead. For now, the street is empty save the fading glow of the streetlamp and a cat slinking through a cedar hedge, looking for breakfast.

This is the time to write. This is the time to focus and create.

Yet I am sitting here, peanut butter in hand, and I want to remain still, unmoving even as the cursor blinks at me on the page. I want to envelope my shoulders in the peace that early morning can bring, and sink into the comfort it provides, if even for just a moment or two. My characters all have fingers to their lips, and are simply sitting with me, chin in hand, eyes closed and enjoying the respite. It’s been noisy lately.

So I will sit, and enjoy the absence of movement and sound around me, and gain energy from it. All too soon, it will be broken, and the rush will begin.

Waking Up

In the quiet of morning, a crow in the trees behind the house wakes me five minutes before the alarm goes off.

I reach, as quietly as possible, willing my arm to stretch just enough to turn off the offensive sound that will shatter the morning silence like a lightbulb hitting the floor. Successfully dodging the piercings of the oldest clock-radio known to man, I lie back and try very, very hard not to let morning fogginess encroach on my awareness.

The peacefully sleeping child beside me, up several times in the night teething, crying, hungry, and clinging, is snoring. 

You wouldn’t know how upset he was, with the angelic look to his face, amiss to the red-faced-tear-streaked squawking anomaly of only a few hours before. The soft, hiccupping misery as he clung to my lap at 2 AM, Advil applied and the rocking chair in full swing, is a distant memory.

The air blows in through the open window, and I catch a scent of tomato plants, dew, and Basil.  Next door, wind chimes are tinkling. I breathe in, and breathe out. Calmness before I start my day is rare, and I relish  in it. For the moment I have no responsibility, no requirements other than to breathe, to listen, to think what I want to think.

One sleepy eye opens, then the other. He looks at me, calm blue eyes, small pursed lips, and a shock of blonde hair tousled from insiting on sleeping with his head crammed into my armpit.  Little hands come out to poke at my nose, my lips, and then a silly smile breaks open. He rises to his knees, and proceeds to try and crawl off the tall, King-sized bed as fast as he can before I catch him and tickle him to abandoned giggles.

It is morning, he is happy, and ready to face the day. Me, I am still tired, still bedraggled, still wishing it was only 4 Am and I could sleep more. But his excitement is infectious.

I think this is how mothers get through sleep deprivation. They draw on their children’s energy by osmosis. They infuse their spirit with the wonderment that each day brings.