We were pressed for time, and my husband kindly offered to help me with my long list of departure chores. “I could go check the ponies at pasture for you,” he said. I declined his generous offer, and when he asked why, I replied, “I want to see them.”
Of course, when I go to pasture, I do more than just see my ponies. While I do indeed look at them, I am also checking the amount of available forage, their minerals and their access to water. But I also monitor their behavior. I evaluate their movement. I observe their interactions. I look for, and hope I don’t see, deviations from ‘normal.’ And ‘normal’ is a state I’ve defined from countless similar times that I’ve been to ‘see’ my ponies at pasture. Checking the ponies at pasture, I’ve learned, isn’t a chore I can completely delegate, at least when it comes to satisfying my need for information about them.
In addition, of course, when I go see the ponies at pasture, they also get to see me. It’s not uncommon when they hear my arrival for my two youngest, homebred mares to run more than a hundred yards, through willow thickets, up and down through drainages, and across the river until they reach me. I know they don’t have to respond this way because I’ve had ponies who barely lifted their heads from grazing to acknowledge my presence. Even my colts, less than half a year old, often run towards the nearest fence when they know I’ve arrived. Seeing my ponies so willingly coming to greet me is of course one of the things that makes going to see them not a chore but a pleasure. And it makes me believe that seeing them is something they value as much as I do.
When my husband says he’s been to see the ponies, no matter whether they’re in a paddock at home or at summer pasture, he will often immediately feel like he’s being interrogated. Who did you see? How were they? What were they doing? Where were they when you saw them? My questions of course are an attempt to get the full range of information that I get from ‘seeing,’ not just the simple results of a visual roll call.
My husband loves to visit the ponies, so I know he’ll offer again to check them for me to help me with my always lengthy to-do list. Perhaps I will accept his kind offer. But more likely, I’ll decline, and then say again that I want to see them, with all the meaning that those words imply.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2018