Wind swept high over the rim of the North Park depression, sending snow, ice, and debris from seasons past into the thin morning air - seen from below, a crystalline trail of tobacco smoke betraying the den of some great reclining mountain dweller. The horse's breath drifted thick, semi-opaque, white in the first rays of sunlight, mimicking the path of the eastbound airstream. Sounds of the waking forest came omnidirectional: the metallic crunch of twice-frozen snow, lodgepole pines creaking in the breeze, the hollow clatter of two trunks contacting in their rebound. His hands, arthritic and cracked dry, shook slightly in the cold as he reached for the sorrel's reigns. He placed his boot in the stirrup, and heaved himself over into the saddle. The sorrel swayed slightly adjusting to its new weight, taking one step forward and to the side, then settling back onto three legs, the right front shoe raised delicately with the leg bent into a forward facing V, the head tilted down and quietly chomping the bit as some obeisant runner presenting for assignment to faraway lands.
The sun through the pines wove a laticework of stark light and shadow on the cold ground, a vermiculate and ever shifting tapestry - now brighter, now darker - textured as tufted fur by the thick bed of dried, brittle needles from summer upon summer precedent.
He flicked the reigns forward, administering a light prodding kick to the sorrel's flanks with the heels of his dusty boots. They moved forward as one on a downhill slope, the sun at their backs through the trees. Seen from below, the just-breaking orb of sun blocked all detail of them save the diffraction halo bursting from their edge - a holy centaur blinding in illumination.