In the deepest winter, when I feel most buried under blankets, sick with tears, sick with lonely, sick of sorry, you are there to get me through the hardness… You stick out your tongue, flick your tail, stomp at the ground, demand me to get back up on the saddle. Your “THPPFT!” is the sound you make, the signal that triggers the instantaneous burst of giggle juice bubbling up through my nose, making me snort and guffaw, grunt away all the sick in one healthy sneeze of relief.
The cold has no hold on you. You are the warmest thing out in the snow. I think of you when I shiver. As the snow falls, I remember the gentle ways you nuzzle, push, challenge, demand, seek my attention. I cannot help but love you.
You are the shape of power, the engine underneath me pounding the earth with thunder, gentle as mother, hard as warrior, capable of navigating through places I cannot pass through. I want you to accompany me on every adventure. I dream of you and me traveling the world the way my ancestors used to, that romantic slow way, better than just walking, superior to being alone. No ranger was ever lone with you.
I worship you as symbol of friendship — the dance of two very different creatures working together, living together, taking care of each other — but more than that — companionship… The kind of two-sided relationship that requires trust, training, skill, discipline, the sharing of power. It only seems like rider is in control. At any moment you could go wild and throw me, crush these fragile bones, send me over a cliff.
When first in the saddle, I felt like I would slide off, I had to hang on, let you teach me how to dance, and I learned from you what it is to be a true companion. To let loose but not go, hold on but not too tight, move in harmony according to the music played, and to sing with my heart, be gentle, stand tall even when I am too short. Above all, despite all my anxiety and worry, my need to run away or strike, to wait and focus, let the softest touches and words be enough to supplement my strength. Even at my most powerful, like you I can feel afraid and weak, I need comforting, easing into new things, trust in others when they tell me that taking a new direction will be good for me… I have a long memory of tragedies, remember them more than the even longer stream of past delights, all because I’ll do anything to avoid another bad time. But even you, dear horse, can get over that, too. We can conquer the instincts that in the wild would protect us, but in modern society only serve to inhibit our growth.
We need wide open spaces. We need to move. We need to be outside. We should travel. We should gallop, not walk, off into the horizon to chase the sun and meet it before it sets. We could go for a midnight romp and use the moon as our guide into invisible worlds. We can be happy lost, far from computers and cell phones, surrounded by trees with only each other for company on the road. Or we could avoid the road altogether and ignore the existence of cars…
You remind me of all the friends I wish I could explore undiscovered places with. I want to be there with them, come running to them on your back and make a grand entrance, the most wonderful start to a legendary saga. There are not enough “epics” in the world anymore. Too many are in books gathering dust. I want to ride you and let your hooves announce we are ready to have our legend written.
Yes. It all starts with one sound, your “THPPFT!” Wet tongue, muffle-muzzle impatient huff. Oh, tell me, how will we begin our journey? Or is home to always be our only destination? Why haven’t we left yet?