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Three Fillies, continued ...

Next to the entrance to the pasture a small corral held a bay stallion so thin I could count every vertebra on his backbone. The corral had no shelter or shade.

The gate to the pasture consisted of three strands of barbed wire that connected one side of the gate to a four-foot tall juniper post on the other side. A loop of barbed wire at the top and another at the bottom held the post to the far gatepost. Mildred opened the gate by slipping off the top loop and sliding the post free of the bottom loop.

We entered a field of some 20 acres. It was fenced with sagging barbed wire hung from tilted juniper posts. It was treeless. Barely a blade of grass grew. Clumps of horsebrush and blackfoot crumbled underfoot. Even the goats hadn't touched those weeds.

Eight foals huddled at the northwest end of the field.

Past old auto parts, piles of broken glass, household debris, and a flyblown goat corpse, we made our way toward the foals. I was suddenly glad of the drought. Holds down odors.

The foals raised their heads and stared at us. When we got within about 100 yards, they broke and galloped to the southeast corner of the pasture.

Diana pointed to one of them, tiny, gold all over like a Palomino, but even gold on the mane and tail. Stranger yet,she had cobalt blue eyes. She was blessed with one of the rarest colors known, gold champagne. She had the dished face and delicate muzzle of an Arabian. "Mom, she's so pretty!"

I guessed the filly was only two months old. She looked as if had been a long time since she had suckled her mother. Her ribs showed. Her belly was tucked in. Despite this, she had fled from us in a gliding canter, neck arched.

None of us knew much about how to gentle wild foals. However, humans are born with the instinctive ability -- if we can free it -- to charm almost any horse.

I turned to Dorothy. "Let's see if we can catch her."

"Sure," chorused the girls. Dorothy and Mildred broke into wide smiles. They led the girls toward the herd while I picked my way back through the debris to get a halter and lead rope from the Escort.

As I opened the door to the car, a goat with a full udder stumbled by. Baling wire snarled around one leg. I caught her and removed the wire.

The residents of the mobile home were nowhere in sight. I could still hear the TV during the rare pauses in the baying of the Rottweiler.

As I walked back to the field, I saw my companions ringing the foals, nodding their heads, moving slowly, murmuring "Hi, pretty… How are the babies?"

Abruptly, the foals turned as one and dashed through a break in their circle. We conferred and decided to be careful next time to not stare at them.

As the morning wore into afternoon, we got closer each time before they broke and run. I finally to blow in the gold filly's nose. She calmed right down. The others took turns blowing in her nose. Figuring that one out was a cinch - nose blowing is how horses make friends.

Diana was the first to pet her. Soon she got a halter on her. By mid-afternoon, Diana had halter broken the filly.

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© 2004 Carolyn M. Bertin. All rights reserved.