Last Saturday, we turned Dar out one more time with the Keely monster. Really, my heart was in my throat, choking at the thought it might go badly or that, once again, he would climb aboard her. What if, and then what? I didn't have an answer, and I knew it.
We all stood and watched them. Scout was agitated, trotting back and forth along her paddock fence, fretting for Keely. We'd turned Dar and Keely out at the edge of the big pasture, opening the wide gate from paddock 3 to give them room to run. There, we waited for an explosion that never came. A squeal or two, some posturing and ear pinning. Eventually, Keely wandered back into the paddock. Dar, still out in the pasture, lifted his head and trotted in. He wanted to herd Keely away from the horses watching from the other paddocks. He was moving too fast, though, and wiped out, losing his footing in the snow and thudding suddenly, perfectly and safely, to his knees. I couldn't have asked for a better reality check. Surprised and chastened, he scrambled to his feet and walked slowly behind Keely. Inside of 20 minutes, they were eating hay side by side. I needed the sense of relief so much that when it came, it only filled the void created by my anxiety. Sometimes that kind of relief can feel like elation; this time, it only brought me back to level. That's how wrapped up I was in the question of whether I've got a jerk boy or a doofus boy.
Sunday night the Saints played a truly great game to win the Superbowl. That was elation. By then, I'd already heard that Dar made it through another day of turnout with Keely. If I am arriving at an understanding of Dar by defining what he is not, then one possibility has been crossed off the list. No, he's not a total asshole in turnout who should remain in solitary confinement.