Monday, September 28, 2009

The Hurling Wind

We walked into the indoor arena tonight, the lead hanging loose in my hand, him with no name swinging his head softly from side to side. Another chance to inspect the corners, sniff the barrels, wonder about rolling.

Summer fell out of the sky overnight, leaving in its void wet wind and chill. The heavy mesh fly curtains heaved high in the doorways, lifting and slapping back: danger. He clenched his body, stiffening and staring. One step, another, and then another. He measured me and I measured him as we walked toward the wide doorway. A gust filled the fly curtain like a sail. He set his hooves and lifted in a single tremor, ears tipped, eyes wide, but he didn't leave the ground. I lost my breath for a second, seeing the drawn-up height of him in a flash: Can I really do this? We walked on, visiting each doorway, circling, stepping away, returning. Enough. Loose, big figure eights for ten minutes, a sigh, and back to the cross ties. Good boy.

It never occurred to him to wonder where the other horses were. That's a joy to me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Before I can re-home Scout, I have to get her in shape. A fallow summer has rounded and softened her. She spent the long days running her herd, browsing grass, keeping one half-interested eye trained on the business of the little farm. There were times when I saddled her, a sense of hope quietly there in me. Other days, I never went to the tack room. To ride or not ride depended on the strength and velocity of my dialogue with fear. Sometimes it also depended on a certain swish of her tail, an impatience in her eye as she strained to catch a glimpse of the herd.

Today, I had the ride I needed to have. I looked up at the sky when the familiar finger of tension scraped the length of my spine. Scout leaned into my hands, picking rigid steps. Just feet from the paddock, Keely ran and bucked, in heat and fretting along the fenceline.

Walk, trot, walk, circle, bend, walk. The minutes calm me. Scout stretches and blows. I see finally the one last inch to heaven that is all that is needed to link us to each other. But the metal to forge that final link is rare and beyond my skill to mine. Now that I know why she's not my horse and I'm not her person, I'm released.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Just like the girl in To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout is smart and curious. She's alert to the world, but sometimes too quick to flee it. Like me. Our tensions dovetailed beautifully early on. The hard life of a traveling horse had taken its toll on Scout: she learned how to say no; she learned how to look after herself. She was made when I got her, made and alone. It took me months to win her affection.

We grew, and we grew together, but we could not grow all the trust we both needed.
Now, five years later, she still forgets me when she thinks of herself; that's just the way she's wired. Now, five years later, I see that I'm too old to be forgotten by the horse I'm riding. That's the way I'm wired.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bringing Him Home

The jousters couldn't convince him to run toward another horse. This big boy, half Percheron, half Morab, steely dappled grey, looked the part but wouldn't play the part. A week ago, I wandered down to the pasture to see him. Last night, I moved him into a barn across the street.

Because I have decided to let go of the ever-vigilant alpha mare who I love, but with whom I cannot breathe.