The snow drifts high and I turn my tail to the wind. The herd stands bunched up, a few feet away. I stand alone. After a while I find myself exchanging breath with another herd member who moves laboriously through the whipping wind to stand next to me. We put our heads down, together, and keep our tails to the wind. Our tails grow icy and caked. Our coats are deep and fluffy under crusty ice. We are white ice horses.
The sun rises and the winds abate. We paw the fresh powder and unearth wet sage and dried grasses. As the sun moves higher in the sky a large truck and trailer appear and a rancher unloads bales of hay for his cattle. We watch from the corners of our eyes. When he leaves we join the cattle, hungry Herefords and black uddered Charlais-Angus crosses. They continue to ruminate, unbothered by our intrusion.
The day warms and the whiteness begins to soften. After my nap on a bare patch of earth blown clean from last night’s wind I stand and shake. My golden coat emerges from under my melty ice veneer. I’m a dun with a long unkempt dark mane and tail, a pronounced dorsal stripe and the hint of zebra stripes on my dark legs. I have no other identifying markings and I like it that way.
Once a rider came by on her little bay gelding. We warily regarded his rounded domestic body and the young girl on his back. Our manes streamed tattered and broken, the stallion was lame. The girl seemed surprised and excited to see us. People rarely see us. We see them.
I’m still young and not sure where I fit in the herd. The pale dappled mare who shared warmth with me last night eyes the horizon and spots the young stallion who has been drifting along behind us, like a phantom snow storm. Maybe we’ll run in his direction.