I miss this arena where I snap a longe line to my thoughts and try to move them out, pushing them past balking, bucking and distraction into some kind of steady, flexing rhythm. My mind needs that kind of work, lest it turn back on itself. It needs this place where I talk about what I long for when I can't be with it, plan the next thing for days that seem to never come. I have to say something when there's no time for me.
The festival is eating my life this year. I miss my horses. Thinking of them is compressed between tasks, endless words, numbers, phone calls, repeat calls, walking the festival amid the blazing heat, lifting, bending, watering the screaming plants, phones in both hands, radio at my hip. Enforce this, create that, ask him, follow up with her -
And there go the jousters riding bareback across the parking lot. I twist to watch them from my window, stinging a little at the sight. The idyllic mood I imagine them to enjoy has nothing to do with reality, it's just a dream of my own longing.
In truth, joust horses rarely connect, mostly won't connect; they could be gone before the next show. They live a narrow life defined someplace between livestock and labor. The dull uncertainty in their faces shows, but they are used to it. As animals will, they live for the next meal. There, astride them, the joust boys look happy and relaxed, and they are. It's not a show day, there are no screaming crowds, no armor, no dust, just a morning ride to stretch the horses before the heat comes to choke the day. I watch, a little pained, knowing my mares are okay without me, enjoying better care than the joust herd ever will, but still, but still...
I saw them two weeks ago when the farrier came to do trims and look at Scout's mysterious hoof hole. Her cave-in was the result of an impact of some sort. She struck it against a fence post, took a glancing kick, or experienced a blunt trauma that knocked out a chunk. He shaped it much as we would a broken fingernail, smoothing rough snags and rasping away the load-bearing edges around it to keep it from cracking. I marveled at him being down on his hands and knees, face inches from her hoof, studying the divot with true professional curiosity.
Arriving for a brief interval into the lives of the horses both helps and hurts. I've really let them become a kind of compass for me, a rudder, a bellwether. Bellwether. That's it. As if it's they who lead me toward what I want to become and I am falling behind.