Horses in the Dark

A. Christine Myers
6 min readSep 30, 2019
Margarita, image © Sarah Myers, used by permission

It happened after dark last night, out in the pasture. There was not any moonlight to speak of, which made navigating the field a difficult task. Just now it is a mass of frost daisies — pretty by daylight with their froth of white flowers, but a tumbled tangle of wiry stems, knee-high or taller, to trip one up at night.

Between ourselves, I should very much like to run a herd of goats through that field to reset the balance between grass and other plants, but what I have is four horses. Horses don’t eat frost daisies. Not even my threesome of small, rugged Galicenos will munch them down. So finding a horse in the two-acre pasture after dark is not easy.

At feeding time, I had already put little bay Margarita in the pen which she shares with my other mare, Bonita. But, in the interests of ensuring that each had her full meal, I had left Bonita loose out in the field with her bucket of feed hooked over a fence rail. Then I went off to care for several other things. I had a suspicion this might be a mistake. It was.

I had a suspicion this might be a mistake.

I came back to put her into the pen for the night. But meantime Bonita had finished eating and disappeared. I peered into the darkness; her pale buckskin coat had vanished somewhere into it, and I could only see the dark night, accented with tufts of even darker brush. There was no doubt she was away out in that field, and she expected me to hike up and down it till I discovered her munching away. She is quite gentle, and I knew she would come along back with me without difficulty. But first I must make the tiring tramp through invisible daisies with very tangibly tangled stems. This at the end of a long, stressful day.

I wasn’t feeling well. And I really didn’t feel like making that search.

Now, much like other horse breeds of Spanish origin, Galicenos have a natural propensity for herding. Margarita has more than once helped me catch and reassure Bonita when I needed to halter her in pen or corral. I thought of trying it again, this time over two acres.

I felt more than a little unsure of my strategy, but I slipped the gate of the pen open and let Margarita out into the dark pasture.