Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Night Horses and a Club Date

Even as it lingered fresh in my senses while I drove away from the barn, I knew I would not be able to capture in words the simple purity of tonight. It was the kind of night that quietly marks the end of one season and beckons toward another, suggesting in its stillness riches in all to come.

It began with an unplanned club date. Scout's tail was so rigid with burrs, it bludgeoned her every time she lifted it, bluntly irritating her into forward motion when she only wanted to sigh and browse in the evening light. I can't solve a tail like that in less than 20 minutes, but I can't let it go, either. I put the brakes on my pace and shifted my awareness of time. Often I carry a sense of urgency even when nothing is pressing at me; it's a habit I forget to let go of.

I brought the horses in for P.M. feeding, then dropped hay in the lots under the glow of the south shed light. The air was so kind, so clean. I watched a jet cross high in the sky, its belly lights winking down from the darkness.

Scout stood sweetly, one ear tipped back to me, while I slimed on detangler and picked through the burrs, sliding them in mean little clumps down the length of her tail and off the end. I talked to her as I worked. It's been months since I've been alone at the barn, alone with the horses, alone with Scout. She's had her adventures this summer, just as I've had mine. I murmur to her about this and that. "Ahh huh huh huh," she replies, whickering low in her throat. I rest my head against her flank, listening to the whistle of the distant train, that train I hear so often at the barn, the one I love.

When the horses had been turned out for the night, I meant to leave, but something held me there. I went out into Lot 1 and leaned against the stone barn wall. The horses snuffled through their hay, moving easily, peacefully, between the flakes. In the stillness I tried to pick out and listen to each pair of jaws grinding; in the darkness I tried to see the shadowy bulk of each body. The light on the old shed glanced off a hip here, a shoulder there. I stood silent, fully present, captivated by the easiness of the horses at night, all of them content in their basic world, all of them completely unaware of nourishing me so much through their nearness and their calm. What a way to breathe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Higher Forces

I paid for Saxony on Sunday, making it official. There she stood, grazing quietly in the rain. I left with her grooming kit and a few other things her previous owner, M, passed on to me. M was teary-eyed, and I understood why. Big changes in her life prompted her to sell her beloved mare, nothing more. She's going on the road and you can't haul a horse trailer behind a semi truck to any real purpose. She was letting go of the horse of a lifetime and we both knew it. Even though there were many steps along the way to my buying Saxony, I'm sure it seemed shockingly sudden to her how quickly she'd sold her horse.

Honestly, I felt humbled and subdued in the face of my good fortune. Because I'd just flown back from Kansas City that morning after a cluttered, jam-packed couple of days on the road, I was tired, too. That helped dial down my excitement, but I would have lowered the volume further on myself if I'd had to so as to not celebrate my gain in the face of M's feelings of loss. I haven't even begun with this horse, but I already know some of what she is, so our transaction was more about M giving her up than me taking ownership of her.

I got in the Pathfinder with H.G. and left without visiting Saxony, peaceful in the belief that numberless days lay before us, but also
aware how suddenly it happened that I bought her. Save for Nature itself, I don't perceive or believe in the presence of higher forces. Except there are surprises. If luck lies in acting without hesitation when opportunity presents itself, then I'm amazed I did it, startled I did it. That's never been my way in life, being someone who's lost too much to waiting. What moved me now?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Here She Is

Through the window of my apartment at the fair I hear all night the ceaseless rush of the interstate. It sounds like the ocean to me. The ocean makes me think of travel and travel makes me think of time. Slightly less than a year ago, I wrote my first entry in this journal. I was poised for change, and change I got, just not in any way I expected.

It my was deciding to let go of Scout that prompted me to reach for words back then. She was the horse I got after two decades' absence from the riding life. Right place, right time, little thought. I acted based on what I remembered of my long-ago horse times, not based on who I was then, all those years later. So, Scout was the horse I got.

Dar was the horse I wanted. I've written of my lust for him, my crazed infatuation with the hope of him. I chose not to keep him. Even so, it took the summer to reconcile myself to the loss I felt.

This is my new horse. She is the horse I need. I'm proud of myself to have realized it.

One led to the next and the next led to her. I settled deep into the saddle and understood.

I've named her Saxony. There's a touch of elegance behind her sweetness.

Thanks to my friend Kari for taking pictures I was oblivious to in the moment but am so grateful for now.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Things That Fall Out of the Sky

I put Dar into a place I could finally carry and keep him when I wrote about him on August 31st. That's also when I understood that I was ready to move on, eager to move on. The next day, this notice showed up in an email:

Lovely black Appendix Mare: 9 years old, 15.3hh, loads, clips, bathes, great on trails alone or with others, good on roadside riding, rides English or Western, loves to jump, dressage prospect but would need fine tuning in the ring, sound, sane, no vices, pet personality, up-to-date on shots, worming, farrier, negative Coggins 2010. Moving, must sell. Good home only.

I wasn't looking, not to say as much, anyway, but something in the advertisement moved me to call. Here she is going through a pre-purchase exam during yesterday's rainy morning.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Kind of Freedom

The festival is over. We made our numbers amid wretched economic conditions and oppressive weather. Just three days after closing the park is nearly empty and the animals are reclaiming their places all over the site. Skunks come out to play after dark, chipmunks streak across the fairways all day long, and we keep a sharp lookout for unexpected arrivals because this is when people begin to dump unwanted pets at the foot of our long driveway.

Show seasons compress like a sponge clenched tight in a fist. With closing day, the grip relaxes and the sponge begins to open. Those of us who move our lives here for the summer look up, look around. Exhausted, we prepare to move on.

I felt that sense of compression strongly this year. It squeezed my decisions and reactions into odd, jerky moments, but often I was aware of little more than just the process of change happening within me. Sometimes I noticed my struggle over Dar. It felt like an event that was happening to me, but I had no time to really be present in it. It erupted from time to time, is all. But there was a process that culminated in my realizing there was no longer a real reason to look back. Somehow, I saw that Dar had moved from hope to memory; I was already looking somewhere else when I saw that I had left him behind. Looking at someone else.