Saturday, July 30, 2016
When I was in Grade Two, at Thomas Gilbard Public School in Cobourg, Ontario, my friends and I used to play horses at recess. It was Catherine and Valerie and me, and I don't remember if there was anyone else. We neighed and trotted and blew out lips out in that sound horses make; we pawed at the dirt, we tossed our heads like we had manes. I remember quarrelling because we all wanted to be horses, no one wanted to be the rider (who merely skipped along behind pretending to be snapping the reigns).
We loved horses but we were "city" girls (living in town) and did not ride, did not have parents who wanted us to ride. Looking back, I wonder if we'd insisted, if playing horses had become serious and immutable, tantrum-able, if one of us really was horsey deep down in her bones and convinced us we were horsey too, would we have found horses to ride, a stable at which to learn, riding teachers?
This is one of those memories and these are those questions that drive me crazy now. I was a kid who didn't push the envelope, who didn't know how interested she truly was in things, who didn't understand -- and didn't until she was in her forties -- that what excited her was what she needed to be doing. I wasn't overtly obsessed by horses, but I was horsey in my heart.
So now I have a new friend and she's horsey. None of these horses pictured are hers; when I took this photo, my friend was warming her Earl up in the ring before a dressage lesson at a horse farm in Linden.
I couldn't resist taking this photo. Just as I couldn't resist touching Earl's flank and his velvety nose and actually putting my face next to his placid body and breathing in the distinctive smell of horse.
Yeah, that seven year old goes around smelling other people's horses now. But only the calm ones; not Marty, hollering and kicking in his stall because he wants to be outside with his harem. The Martys of the horse world terrify me; the horses I can handle are the ones you'd give a seven year old to ride. The Earls of the horse world are my people. They go straight to my heart.
I watched my friend trot around the ring and noticed the smoothness with which she lifted up and settled down with the rhythm of Earl's movement. It's beautiful to watch. I long to ride but I don't know if I ever will. Judith, my friend's friend, was watching as well, dressed in jodhpurs and riding boots, as she waited for her lesson. Judith is 83.