It started out as a lazy Sunday ride.
We headed out with the two favorites, Comet and Pep.
Nearby fields just cleared of first-cut bales.
Down the road, new neighbors were having a keg party of sorts in their front yard. One man pretended to cast from his skiff. It was on grass, not water. Same for him, I imagine.
They waved and invited us to join them.
Rufus and Firecracker, two easy-going geldings on the corner, called to our mares. We stopped to let everyone sniff.
After a few miles of gravel road, passing fields and woods, we reached my friend’s house where I stepped off to visit with her while Steve let the horses graze for a spell.
Another mile brought us to the top of a hill where we could see clear to the Eastern Iowa Airport, six miles away. The airport was in the midst of a thunderstorm. We watched as a plane flew into thick clouds before safely landing.
— The wind quickened.
— The sky darkened.
— Birds quieted.
— Smells grew intense.
The storm barreled south, heading across the cornfields and directly towards us.
I could hear my mother’s words ringing in my ears:
– Always walk the last mile.
– Never let them run for the barn.
We asked our horses to move out. On the dirt road and its grassy shoulder, we galloped.
— Past the cemetery.
— Past Rufus and Firecracker.
— Past the lawn party. (“Come back for a cold one,” they shouted.)
We raced those last two miles with the dark, heavy curtain of storm at our heels. We screeched right into the barn, like teenagers into an empty school parking lot.
Then laughed at the rain as it came down in sheets.
And thanked our horses for their fine condition.
Check out a similar summer storm, including a 30-second video.