July 10, 2022, Angeles National Forest, Chilao
The girls went out pre-dawn to where Skye had seen Petrichor's band and the new, old black mare. They looked, and listened, but they found no horses.
They did see fascinating spider webs. They saw a young scrub jay learning to forage on its own.
They headed back to the ranch before the sun crested Yucca Peak. Grace wanted to work with La Barilla in the long rein rig while it was still relatively quiet.
They worked on turning. In a fashion. La Barilla a very smooth on his left turns, but he resisted going to the right. Instead of bending to the right, he basically side passed all the way around, 360 degrees. He was moving to the right...Grace just could not manage to get him to do it "normal."
"I think I am going to change his name" Grace said.
"Nascar. Like the racing series. Because with few exceptions, he only turns left."
All said, their second session was really quite successful. The stallion did what he was asked and appeared to enjoy working. It doesn't get much better than that.
While the girls worked horses, Gary Pickett's annual flint knapper's gathering had returned to Chilao School after a nearly three year absence due to COVID. The girls didn't know anything about paleo tool making, or rocks for that matter, but one of the knappers gifted them with a lovely slab of rock. It was thin, but still quite heavy. Grace was just fascinated by it. Skye had a million questions that Grace could not answer.
"I'm going to clean it off a little" Grace said in the fading evening light. "When you see it in the daylight it'll look even better."
Dawn was quiet, still and warm. Grace and Skye set off on foot. They were looking for Petrichor's band, and they had a hunch where they might find the horses. In the heat of summer, the horses seemed to prefer to be on the rock plateaus, where breezes were moe likely to find them, and insects were less numerous...until the sheer heat drove them to seek the shelter of trees.
Whiptail lizards seemed particularly numerous this year. The girls saw a healthy one as they made their way to Mustang Rock. They did not have long to wait this time. The black mare was still with the herd. And Petrichor was looking fit.
The pale mare caught wind of the girls. The bay lead mare paused. Petrichor halted, then moved toward Grace and Skye. The black mare moved closer, unafraid.
Petrichor got between his harem and his humans. He swished his tail vigorously, worked his lips and quivered his nostrils, conflicted. The black mare followed the other mares as they turned away from Grace and Skye.
A helicopter flew overhead. Grace watched the horses. There was no fear reaction. No one panicked. That told Grace some things about these horses. They had likely never been in a BLM helicopter round-up.
The girls kept advancing, slowly. They were able to get quite close.
Grace got a good look at the black mare. She was old, yes, and she did not look like a mustang, no. But she was also not showing ribs or a dramatically swayed back or prominent whithers.
Petrichor held ground between his horse and human harems. It was hot, and the sky was electric blue.
Skye watched the peacock appaloosa foal. It was calm like its mother, and such an unusual color.
"This is doable" Grace said softly. "We'll come back with a halter, or rope, or both. Maybe treats. I bet that mare will come right up to us."
"What about Petrichor?"
"I don't think he'll try to hurt us. He may not like it, but I don't think we need to be afraid. He's just barely wild. At least around us."
And so they left the wild ones to the wild land. For now.
They spent the heat of the day inside. Skye admired the slab of stone that gotten from the flint knappers.
"The rock is called Hartville Uplift, from Wyoming" Grace said.
"Did you polish it?"
"I washed it and rubbed it with lavender oil and sea salt scrub...because that's what I had. The stone will absorb the oil but at least for a little while the colors will show."
"Why is some of it so shiny and some so rough?"
"I don't know for sure. We'll have to ask the knapper that gave it to us...#wyopaleo.
Grace and Skye tidied up the tack room. It was too hot to ride.
"Do you think we'll ever get to go to Breyerfest?"
Grace thought for a bit before she responded.
"We'd have to figure out how to go with someone else. The boss can't go because too many dogs and other things to manage."
"Or NAN...do you think we'll ever get to show at the North American Nationals?"
"Well, we'd have to qualify some horses first, and any more it seems like we barely have enough time to ride them all. Anyway, don't worry, I'm sure the boss figured out how to bring back horses even though she isn't going. In a couple of weeks, we'll have a whole new bunch of horses to sort out."
"I'd put money on it."
The temperature had dropped to 89 degrees. Skye found Grace and La Barilla in the indoor arena, which was not much cooler.
"So now what?" Skye asked.
"He still doesn't turn right as good as he turns left, but I thought I'd try one more variation with the long reins. This is really the only thing we haven't done yet. I'm running out of ground work to do before I get on him."
"Are you nervous about riding him?"
"Maybe a little. I want to make sure everything goes smooth. I want to make sure he's ready. I don't want any surprises. Pretty soon though, I just need to do it."
In the evening, out in the vastness of dry ground and aging boulders, as the sun's light lost its grip on the land and faded into shadows, Petrichor's band began to stir.
The small herd was spread out across the landscape. The black mare was slow. She was also hard to rush, as Petrichor learned the hard way. She may have been slow at the walk, but her bite and kick were swift.
The bay lead mare pressed on. Time to choose a place to spend the evening.
At home, Grace caught up on the day's news.
"Oh, the boss forwarded us a message from Jennifer Bray Buxton."
Skye lit up. "What does it say?"
It says "I was reading the newest Grace and Skye story and I wanted to let Grace know that although Olive likely has been through a BLM helicopter round up, she has zero fears of planes or helicopters. She lives near an Air Force base, and there are low flying jets and helicopters on a daily basis. No problem."
"That is VERY interesting! You know what I think?"
"What do you think?"
"I think someone needs to sculpt Olive, in her full floating imitation Arabian trot. Like maybe Maggie Jenner Bennett. That's what I think."
"Are you sitting down Skye? A model horse...no, a Pegasus for crying out loud...sold for sixty five thousand dollars in the Breyerfest auction today."
Skye had no response. #
Chilao School hosts a number of art, healing arts and cultural events throughout the year, including an annual flintknapper's gathering and campout with Gary Pickett. In 2022 we met some wonderful new folks and we were gifted with some lovely arrowheads and that great piece of Hartville Uplift.
Maggie Jenner Bennett is the amazing sculptor of a number of horses in The Art of Grace including La Barilla, Crazy and Highlander. Petrichor is a Breyer model sculpted by Ravyn Maddock. The black mare is a customized Breyer by Corina Roberts. Grace and Skye themselves hail from Field of Dolls Studio, Anne Field.
And in real life, a model horse customized to a Pegasus sold at auction at Breyerfest for sixty five thousand dollars, shattering by more than double the most money that a model horse ever fetched ($24,000 for a one of a kind Alborozzo in 2020).
Hi, my name is Corina, the official story teller for Grace and Skye. Grace owes her beauty, style and charm to Anne Field, Field of Dolls Studio. Skye does too, for that matter, as Anne fostered her for a while, giving Skye a complete makeover in the process. The horses, dogs, cats, saddles, bridles, furniture and so forth are the work of many artists. I'll do my best to acknowledge them as we go from day to day.
This is the ongoing, unfolding story of grace little, manager of redbird ranch, and her little sister, Skye