The advantage to writing about horses is that everyone can connect with the subject. Although no longer central to humanity for transport or farm power, horses are still part of our world. Almost everyone has been on a horse at least once. Everyone has a story about seeing or visiting with a horse. A friend and fellow writer* has offered to share her horse stories. Welcome:
I am not a horsewoman. In 40+ years I’ve ridden only two horses, but horses have always made me feel at home.
On a date in high school, I cantered on the same horse with my boyfriend along the outer edge of his father’s fenced-in yard. After three or four dates, I grew tired of wearing my boyfriend’s swishy letter jacket, so I took it off and gave it back to him, along with his heavy senior ring that I had stuffed with corn pads to fit my index finger, and that was the end of that.
When I lived in Buenos Aires, I visited a farm in the south for a week, and one day the family rode horses across stubble fields after the corn had been harvested. I remember laughing at an ostrich’s skinny legs running like lightning away from us, and I remember being relieved when after a two-hour ride, my feet were safely on dirt. I was more than happy though to indulge my hostess and pounce into a pile of pink corn with her. The goal was to try to claw our way up to its peak as the kernels shifted beneath us, which is like climbing up an escalator whose tracks are moving downward. We made it about halfway up then collapsed into laughter and exhaustion.
Though I’ve only ridden two horses, I’ve always been around them because farms surrounded my childhood home. When my mother and I walked around Burt’s circular road that measured approximately three miles, we passed several horse fields. When the wooden Davis Bridge finally buried itself in Burt Creek, we had to detour through a neighbor’s cow pasture, and we always felt like interlopers as the black and white cows stared at us from where they were slurping creek water or plucking grass. When we made our way back to the road, after crossing a low place in the curlicue wire fence (which the cows sometimes found their way across also), we met at the top of the rise four friendly horses on either side of the road, a pair from two separate farms. One day the owner was eating an apple on his front porch, cutting off slices with his pocket knife. He came over to speak to us (our walks were never efficient) and offered us apple slices to feed to his horses, whose heads were dangling over the fence for attention. I remember the horse’s lips slobbering over my outstretched palm, and then scratching under his chin, which he didn’t seem to mind either.
Across the road where we turned left to continue our circle, the neighbor’s horses perpetually frolicked on the sunny hillside, and often a colt danced alongside its mother. Over the years we saw many new horse legs wobble into certainty as we walked our circle and waved to anyone we saw on a horse or tractor or lawnmower or hay baler or four-wheeler or porch. One neighbor once ran out with an umbrella for us when we were caught in a rainstorm. Women often gave mama flower seeds from their cultivated wildflower beds. When we eventually turned back into the driveway, nestled within the hills that surrounded our home, our hands often carried black-eyed Susan, ironweed, or on a good day, skillet-fried pies.
When I lived in San Diego, I attended my first horse race. I chose the horse with the worst odds because I felt sorry that no one was betting on it, and that was the way to win the most money. Fancy Strut ended up winning, and I pocketed over $300. It was sad to me though to see the losing bets tossed into the air and whiplash down to litter the asphalt like geometric snow. The bet slips made me homesick for the white dogwood-speckled hills of Tennessee. That’s when I knew for certain that my wandering days were over, and I needed to head on back home.
*My F&FW is a Jane Austin/Emily Dickinson/traditional literature fan. Part of her would be more comfortable living in the 19thC. Unsurprisingly, she is putting up a valiant if futile resistance to having her identity assimilated into the collective that is the Internet.
Gratuitous Kitten Pic
Guest Kitten demonstrates Kitty ADD