Monday, December 24, 2007


When I get to feeling like that, there's only one place I want to go. So I went.

I was so worked up, sweating through an enochlophobic fever, pinched in on all sides by the battle around me - self-respect versus pie-in-the-sky romanticism versus incredulity versus despair - I could hardly make it to the gates. But once I did, it was okay - the too-many-speed-bumps and the gentle hummocks in the offhand pavement rocking me gently through my final approach. Sssssh, sweetie. Shhhhhhhh.

I hadn't worn the right shoes, which I realized the moment I popped the drivers' side door and my cheap flats skidded a bit on the muddy concrete. It was okay, though. I wasn't here to do business. The sweet alfalfa air swung around me like a coat as I rifled to the bottom of the trunk for the crumpled plastic bag of sugar cubes. I was happy that I'd never removed it. I stuffed some into my jeans pocket and picked my way over the little creek that was sending a fleet of maple-leaf boats whizzing toward the dressage yard.

And there everybody was, concentrating on their evening cubos - Devious Angel, Star, Merlin. The still air, which sat so cold and quiet on the stable blankets, was ruffled occasionally by the sound of hard breath, a shuffling circle, short conversations carried on in whinny.

Everybody knew why I was there. Everybody knew. As I walked along, nose after nose was thrust out against me. But my truest friend was Corazzo, a dove-eyelashed Arabian who pressed his nose to mine, then allowed me to rest my forehead deeply against his as I lay my hand on his taut, warm neck. After a long moment had passed, he gamely nipped on my peacoat buttons and pushed me around until I giggled. I happily doled him out a sugar cube and a kiss for his kindnesses.

I know why I feel so at peace here. I'm a horse, pure and simple. It's in the habits of my body; in the workings of my spirit. I weep and wither when I'm kept at stable; I only find balance in the space between the liberal application of strokings, kind words, and the threat of the crop; blinders make me safer to myself and everyone around me. To the right master I'm as loyal as I am fiercely capricious to the wrong one; I'm strong and I'm solid but I'm spooky, too; and most of all - I need to know that you know what you're doing and where you're going or I will bite and buck and run.

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