I am reading Ray Bradbury’s “Zen in the Art of Writing,” and he admonishes us to write with zest, gusto, love, fun. Write about something you love. Last night, as so often happens, there it was again, so I tried to capture it:
Sandro, you are my soul. Gigi is my heart, but you are my soul. Head, attached to powerful neck, big enough to break me. Even a nudge can throw me into a wall. Most of the time, you’re gentle. Teeth strong enough to take my fingers off, nibbly nibbly for treats. Nipping the top layer of my skin — inside of upper arm, nipples, bum — looking sideways out of big, knowing, testing eyes. Unchanging in your basic self through our thirteen years together.
I have changed. Learned to be more patient. To disconnect the parts of myself, center them over you, hang them back together in loose balance. Pelvis tilt under, connect with your back, weight sinking down legs, wrapping them around you – as much as little me can – fingers hooked into the bit rings through the reins, elbows lying relaxed at my sides. Barely any weight in the reins, you are so light and sensitive. The beautiful curve of your neck is enough.
Except – you fly ahead and suddenly I must put all of my weight into the saddle, bracing myself, battling your desire to pound the ground, cover it in giant thundering strides. I want to do the same, and you feel that, but we’re running out of arena. Back you come, into balance, calming. It is enough to float along, each moment of suspension a meditation.
I love when we’re walking and I am going to ask you to canter, you know and gather under us and – just like that – you rock up and into a beautiful carousel-horse canter. 1500 pounds of lightness.
Last night, after I gave you your bath – ewwwww! You’re such a baby about getting a bath – and squeegeed you dry, I tried something different. Instead of spraying the anti-fly stuff on, I got a sea sponge and soaked it. Maybe overdid it. Then brushed it all over you, in long strokes. White foam everywhere, before it sank into your skin, and then you looked like a living sculpture. Black oil poured into the perfect horse mold, every movement of your muscles in high definition under gleaming skin in the dark barn. You don’t know how beautiful you are, you just want a carrot. Three. You expect three carrots.
I have to be careful now of walking in front of you. The Spanish Walk is your favorite. So naughty in cross-ties! So much fun to lift a front leg up and – bam! – out I goes, neck arched, look at me! Good boy, just please wait until I’m not right in front of you, okay?
You’re learning to move your back legs now, when we’re practicing the Spanish Walk under saddle. This is “correct” but I’m a little sad. No more Downward Pony. Maybe I can teach you that later.
Such a beautiful boy, and such a good boy. Gigi scared you a couple of evenings ago, on a trail. She stepped on a little twig – snap! – and you panicked, moved in all directions at once, your back like a snake snapping under me, then disappearing briefly. But not, in the end, very far. Because you’re sane, as sane as a scared horse can be. And so on we continued, into the forest.