The riding ring at the stable where I board Tonka is buried under a foot of snow. There’s a 1/3 mile dirt track around the farm, and most of that has been too dangerously icy to ride on. There is though, one stretch that has thawed and frozen, and thawed again, and so once a week or so, I tack up Tonka and walk up and down that section.

But, the other day the conditions were just right. There had been two days of good weather and the ice melted. Then it got cold and the mud froze. I got on. We walked around the entire track, and then we trotted.


I felt ridiculously happy. Something more than just sitting in the saddle had triggered that feeling of elation. As Tonka and I trotted along the path, I realized what it was. It was something that I was hearing:

Clip-clop, clip-clop.

Tonka’s hooves, striking the solid ground rung out.

Clip-clop, clip-clop.

You might think that you always hear that sound when riding a horse. It’s how riding is described in storybooks. But, in reality, the ground is muddy, or grassy, or too rocky. It takes just the right conditions to hear a true clip-clop. A what you imagine it sounds like to be on a horse clip-clop is a rare sound, indeed.

I’ve ridden for most of my life, but for most of my life I was also going deaf. Many years ago I heard that clip-clop on the few rare occasions I had to trot on a paved road (never done for any length of time as it is hard on the horse’s legs.) It’s been ages since hearing that, and in the last two decades, I couldn’t hear my horse’s footfalls no matter where they fell.

As I went deaf, many sounds receded into vague memories or were entirely lost to me. I am now hearing again (thanks to cochlear implants – read that story here) and so, when I heard that clip-clop ring out so true, so cadenced, so like a childhood dream of being on a horse, it was entirely unexpected.



Having sound return to my world with CIs is not like putting on a pair of glasses and all of a sudden seeing. The brain has to relearn how to hear. Clarity comes with practice. Some sounds aren’t there, and then they are. Some sounds are rare, and the brain has to work to recognize them. But some sounds, like the clip-clop of a horse, go right through the ear and the brain, and right into the heart.


  1. What a beautiful story and sound. I’m so happy for you!
    Tonka is still barefoot………will you be putting shoes on him?

    • I’m hoping to keep him barefoot, but Tonka has a flat sole that is prone to bruising. Shoes will protect him. I’m waiting for spring footing to see how he goes.

  2. I can only imagine how your cheeks hurt from all the non-stop smiling. So wonderful!

  3. That story brought a tear to my eye! So Happy for you, enjoy all the sounds of spring coming even if it is coming slowly! Clip-Clop :)

  4. Teri,
    I really enjoy your writing. You always work in a very subtle unexpected twist to what is often a somewhat predictable story. It’s hard to do well, and I am always delighted when I read it. You have a lovely, smart but restrained voice.


    • Thank you for saying that. What you’ve described is exactly what I try to achieve. It can take me a couple of hours to compose a short blog like this one and knowing that it came across as intended makes my day.

  5. You make it feel as if we are riding right along with you….sharing in your joy!

  6. Hi Terry – huge fan of the site! Congrats on the success with the CIs – I think those are so fascinating and have only seen two people in person with them.

    I don’t own horses or know about horse hoof care, but have you seen this really interesting product called GluShu? It’s a new type of “shoe” for horses that is glued on instead of nailed. They are sold out of the UK (but they do list sizes in inches) – and they come in fancy colors if Tonka is so inclined. I think there are other types out there like Hoof-It and Epona Shoe…I’m sure your friends at the stables have more info for you, but it seems like those are very comfortable for horses! I thought it was such an interesting idea.

    Although it does still look like you need snow shoes instead!

    • I’m all for fancy colors, Tonka looks especially good in teal blue. There are all sorts of options, including snap-on shoes just for trail riding, which is something I’ve discussed with my farrier. But there’s a reason that traditional shoeing is still the primary way of protecting your horse’s feet. Hooves grow like fingernails, and so anything put on, needs to come off and the hoof trimmed every 6 weeks or so. Shoeing with nails doesn’t hurt the horse, (not when a skilled farrier is employed) and metal shoes can handle 1,000 pounds of horse pounding on them. My farrier continues to go to seminars on new products, and when she says she trusts them, I’ll follow her lead. BTW, if I’d known the winter was going to be so snowy, Tonka would have got shoes with special snow shoes!

  7. Wow, today’s blog went straight from my eyes and into my heart and then to my tear ducts. I’ve loved animals, the outdoors, all things country my whole life and to read this delightful description of something as “simple” as clip-clop somehow just made my day. From one country heart to another have a wonderful day and please know how happy I think we all are to share this journey with you as you re-enter the hearing experience. Beautiful and oh so touching.

  8. Seems you have touched all our hearts today (and yet again!) Terry!

  9. Ok I’m not sure how to express this but I wish I could experience what you are experiencing. What a fantastic emotional experience.

  10. Terry, this entry brought a tear to my eye (in a good way).

  11. Terry, this is so true! I have actually felt that elation before and it just happened to be when I was riding a horse. (A big horse). But I can’t share it today, because I just want to ponder on this post and remember to be grateful for all things. And to rejoice in your happiness. And to thank God for blessing you.

  12. Such a beautifully written post! And a good reminder not to take what we have for granted.

  13. This post is such a beautifully written reminder of how often the most important blessings in our lives go un-noticed & appreciated. Thanks so much for sharing your joy.

  14. Boy, you make me smile, Terry! If I close my eyes I can actually hear the clip clop! It’s like I was riding with you!

  15. I have a friend who just got an implant on one side….he can hear the cooing of his new little granddaughter..brings tears to our eyes.

  16. We are so fortunate that medicine has advanced so much. Your postings are a real treat and I’m so happy when a new one appears. Thanks for sharing!!

  17. Like everyone else I felt touched by this post. I know how much the clip clop is music to your ears and through you it is music to our ears too.

  18. Terry I am also glad to hear that your hearing is getting better and you are able to hear a the differences in sound when you are riding Tonka. I was wondering do you also use body massage as well as food treats as positive reinforcement so you can get Tonka use to people manipulating his legs, feet, and ears into different positions ?

  19. Oh Terry! What a beautiful post! you have reminded me, after 60 some years, of the first horse in my experience. it was well before my fourth birthday, as we were still in Connecticut and had not yet moved to Hawaii. I heard the clarion call of the clip-clop for the very first time, and looking out the window, and saw my first horse being ridden on the sidewalk. they were moving away from me and I only saw the back of the blue-jacketed rider on the bay horse, but that was the beginning of a life long love of horses and although most of my riding has been on grass and trails, the sound always brings me back to that first sight.
    I am so glad you are hearing and writing!

  20. I agree wholeheartedly with Tracy’t comments on your writing as well.
    And I especially love it when you write about your hearing. I’m so happy for you.

  21. Sitting here just watching Beatrix through hencam and still believe she is the most beautiful chicken I have ever seen. Her eyes are so clear and sharp, like an eagle. Her markings are unique. She also has a certain amount of grace to her posture and the way she carries herself. Would love to have her!

    • She is also a very good school visit hen. Last week we did a storytime at a preschool. There were children running, bouncing balls, and staring at her, and she was as calm as could be. She rather liked eating their pretzels :)