The saga of the crazy pinto filly began here.
File Part II under Anatomy. Mine, that is.
By the time I was 14, I'd done countless miles on the crazy pinto filly. After the ridiculous reach-for-the-sky calamity during the previous summer, I'd become familiar with her wild ways through spill after spill, wreck after wreck. It was always something, me coming off of her, but I was used to it and still just a rubber-bandy kid made invincible by my love for her and my certainty of her love for me. It was all hearts and flowers, always summertime - she could never really hurt me.
Or so I thought. I didn't realize that we humans have a role to play there.
Since the crazy pinto filly was all about flight for me, escape and freedom, I had a routine designed to speed me through grooming and up onto her back. The kid I was back then wanted to ride; I had no inkling that decades later, grooming would become so central and valuable a part of my exchange with horses.
I'd get to the farm where she lived, lead her out of the dusty lot and tie her to a hitching post beside the barn. (I don't know why they had one; she was the only horse there.) A quick skidding of the body brush over her back and flanks, a little comb-out of her mane and tail, and I was done. It rarely occurred to me to pick out her feet. Impatient though I might be, I could get crabby if her white parts were dirty. Groomer or not, I had to get them clean. Resentfully, I would rag-rub away grass stains and dirt, all the while chafing to get underway.
Looking back, of course, I see that grooming could have been a way to reach the filly and maybe help with some of the discontent she manifested by jigging, bolting, rearing, etc., but at the time, through my needy eyes, she could do no wrong, had never done wrong.
There I was one weekday afternoon, a perfect, dry summer day, working at a stubborn grass stain on the filly's left foreleg. As I rubbed at the stain, I planned our ride. We would follow a creek that flowed behind my parents' house, well behind it, and dawdle along the treeline until sunset.
The stain persisted. In a fit of pique, I dragged my rag through the water trough and dropped to my knees in front of the filly. She stepped forward. I felt an impact, knee to face, but what got my attention was the water flowing from my eyes. I couldn't see for the water. A few minutes passed as I waited for my eyes to clear. I remember touching my face here and there.
We didn't end up riding the treeline. I cut the ride short because I felt oddly tired. The walk home from the barn seemed long, and I was drowsy with sun when I walked in the door. My mother sat clicking away at her typewriter, composing her dog newsletter, but she glanced up when she heard the screen door snap shut.
"What have you done to your face?" she barked. "What the bloody hell have you done!" I had no clue. Not until I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw that my nose was canted to the left, laying just flat against my cheek.
That was one rare instance where ignorance was not bliss for me. You should never kneel in front of a horse's leg, rather always keep to the side. Oh, but I learned it that night, learned it forever. I will never forget the sound and the sensation when the E.R. doctor leveraged my nose somewhat back in place with a shiny metal rod that he pulled (rowing-like) with both hands. I will never forget the grinding crunch of his best effort, the one that brought my nose back to the neighborhood, if not back home. That sound outlived my raccoon eyes deep into the summer, and I can loop it over and over, even now.