. . . and horses . . .
I surprised myself the other day at how emotional I got about recalling how much horses taught me about life and living. A friend posted a lovely story about mares….how they have to protect their young and fight off any predators that seek to harm their foals. A post like this comes round to remind me of how much time I spent on horses in my adolescence and how formative it was to be responsible for an animal’s care and exercise.
Dan used to enjoy saying we courted on horseback. It’s true that we met up on horses and got to know each other along the riding trails. He was unlike his friends who sought to tease me, threatening to pull the bridle from my horse and then smack her on the butt to get her to run. He never enjoyed scaring me, as they tried to do. And he wouldn’t allow them to make good on their threats.
Though he didn’t seem to mind that he did not own a horse, he was never afraid to ask a friend to borrow one of their horses, especially Kathy Morris who owned a strawberry roan and a large pony with a giant ego who was fond of running away with his riders. What spirit Smokey had! Dan (and the pony’s owner) were the only ones who could keep him from going rogue on a ride, carrying an unwilling rider back to the barn at full speed.
Riding a horse on a day-long excursion with the beauty of nature surrounding you brings a mellowness that I think sunk deep into our psyches when we rode together. Dan always had a job, even at a young age, so I rode more with my girlfriends than I did with him. As I look back, I recognize that horseback riding planted a home-grown sense in both of us.
Training my pup, who arrived after Dan died, reminds me of training my horse. How losing your temper never works with an animal (nor humans for that matter) and how when you look into their eyes—dog or horse—you see into the soul of a sentient being.
Sometimes we would drive out to dairy land where there were a few horse ranches for race horses, noses peeking out just like these. The look in their eyes was often crazed, so much being asked of them….such high spirited creatures.
Oddly, I now work in horse country, at a college in the small town of Norco that prides itself on having a country feel. The horse trails near the streets are generously wide and allow four riders riding side by side next to the split rail fence. I love the smell of a horse and I love the way they make you their own.
I wonder if you’re off on Smokey somewhere, babe….sitting astride that same pony who loved to rear and loved even more to run.