March 23 ē 03:14 PM

So much beauty in the beast

May 16, 2018
I don't know what I'll do when I can't see them any more.

They're always there. Every day. Through every single season. Every. Single. One.

When it's raining, they're there. Snowing, yep. Leaves falling or buds beginning to bloom, I can count on the magnificent, peaceful creatures to be exactly where they've been for the past 26 years. From day one of moving into my humble abode in the woods, those alluring horses have lived in that fenced-in field on Dryden Road.

There's a barn there—but no house. The house—a rental for as long as I've known about it—burned down half a dozen or more years ago. The debris was cleared, and no new home built. Still, the horses remain.

They're well cared for, though there's no one living on the property. There's always a huge, fresh pile of hay nesting in a shiny, metallic ring in one of the two pastures they alternately hang out in. Smaller one near the gray wood barn and the huge fallen tree in the winter. Larger one with an open expanse and trail that goes around some woods and then fronts the road in the summer. I love it when they're on the little path near the road, munching on the wild daisies that crop up in June. A couple of years ago, a lone rooster joined them—a proud looking creature that was not intimidated in the least by the stately beasts he made a home with.

Dr. Clark's the one who tells me that these horses are called 'paints.' The late good doctor used to live in Armada, and sometimes he cut down Dryden Road to get to his Imlay City practice. A gentle man who loved animals, Doc Clark also appreciated the beauty of those horses.

Sometimes when I pass by, one or two of them are sitting down. Like overgrown lambs, their legs and hooves tucked up close to their chests—majestic, muscley haunches sticking up like two half-wagon wheels. One time on a hot, sunny day one of them is completely on it's back—belly up, legs in the air. Alarmed by the sight as I whiz by, I stomp on the brakes and turn around to see if it needs help. City girl that I am, I think it's dead or dying, only to be told by my more country-ish friends that horses frequently take a dust bath in the summer—there's nothing wrong with them at all.

A few weeks ago—during the winter-that- would-not-end season, one of the spotted paints is resting like a little lamb near the big pile of hay. I have my camera bag with me and decide to take a little risk to fulfill a long-held desire. I turn around and pull onto the almost-non-existent shoulder on westbound Dryden Road in front of the barn. The movement prompts the spotted horse to rise up on tall legs. Long lens on the camera, I roll down the window and start to shoot. They look at me with inquisitive eyes. It takes my breath away. And bolsters my confidence to get a little closer.

As I move toward the fence, they move toward me. I am somewhat intimidated by the sheer mass of the animals, heart pounding as they gently nudge their noses toward the camera.

I rush to get off as many shots as I can while my nerve is up. The adrenaline rush mixed with the singing heart makes me giddy, joyful. They are as peaceful and magnificent and majestic as I've imagined. And they're always there. Every day. Through every single season—a gift for the eyes and song for the soul. How I love the country life!

Email Catherine at

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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