Sunday, Jul. 12, 2020 @ 3:56 pm
I ease my horse back from the group. He tosses his head but complies, and soon we are on our own trail, still within sight of the others, but alone.
The rhythm of his gait, the clatter of his hooves against the stony trail. A persistent wind against my face. The soft leather reins in my hands.
He tosses his head in the gusty wind, and the bit jingles. The scent of sage and dust seeps into my skin.
I’ve been coming here since I was a child. I remember nervously waiting in the paddock at the first mount-up. The cowboy calling my name, a piece of straw dangling from his teeth like a cartoon. The red and white spotted pony that I first swung my leg over. The first creak of a leather saddle beneath my body. My first gallop across a grassy field, tears streaming down my face, the string of my hat tugging against my neck.
We walk now, briskly and brightly, across the landscape. Brown-eyed susans and mariposa lilies quiver, impossibly delicate in the harsh desert dust.
My body relaxes here, at the ranch. The familiar smells, the comforting routines that have been happening every day for my entire life.
My horse is responsive and sensitive. He holds his head with confidence and sass. He turns his head occasionally to look at me, and I rub his neck lovingly in response.
We come to a gate, and I sidle him up alongside it. He stands while I unlatch the chain, and then I shift my weight slightly, and he responds by pushing the gate sideways, his feet crossing over each other in a practiced side-step. All of this in reverse on the other side to close the gate. My dream - this communication and teamwork with an animal - and again I caress his thick and shiny brown neck.
The group is a ways ahead. I need to catch up so they don’t begin to worry.
I gather him up and without so much as the slightest of nudges, he shifts into a beautiful canter. My hands holding the reins, covered in the thick swath of his mane. My body moving with his in a rocking motion and his breath blowing from his nose in a satisfying bluster with each heave.
He can feel everything that you do up there. Every shift in your weight, every time you tuck your hair behind your ear. Every time you inhale and exhale.
Back at the ranch, I dismount and move to stand beside his head in preparation for the short walk to the paddock. But before we move off, I wrap my arms around his neck and press my face into his strong, thick neck and kiss him over and over.
Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for acknowledging me.
He turns his head towards me and shoves his nose into my arm. I rub his face in response and scratch all of his favourite places.
I live in steady, constant reverence of existence.
The world is endlessly beautiful.