Saturday, May 29, 2010

My little black horse

Midnight made me cry today.

We had planned a trail ride--Midnight and I, Galahad and a friend of ours--in spite of the heat. I don't take the heat very well these days, and I must admit I was in a pretty bad mood when we saddled up.

As horses will do, Midnight reflected my mood for me. We had several tussles before I finally got the saddle on him. He wouldn't stand; he bit the trailer and scraped the paint with his teeth; he tried to nip me; he tried to pull the saddle blanket off when I turned my back to pick up the saddle. It took twice as long as usual--he was being really obnoxious.

Once we headed out on the trail, though, he was his usual willing self. He didn't even try very hard to eat clover, but responded nicely to leg cues to stay on the trail. Only once, when I asked him to walk through the grass to let me get a closer look at a flower, did he grab a bite of clover.

When we got back, my friend and I hosed both horses off to cool them down. As I led Midnight back to his stall, I knew that what he really wanted to do was roll in the sand in the indoor arena. He'd been such a good guy on the trail that I decided to let him have that treat, in spite of the fact that I'd just cleaned him up.

And roll he did, after spending a while finding the perfect spot. Over and over, feet in the air, rubbing his face in the sand. There wasn't anyone else around, so I left him in there enjoying himself while I took a load of tack out to the trailer.

I wasn't gone but five minutes. When I got back, I saw him standing at the far end of the arena looking out the door toward the trailer. As I walked toward the arena gate, he saw me--and whinnied loudly as he galloped across the arena to me. Not cantered, galloped. He skidded to a stop right in front of me, dropped his head, and looked me right in the eye. A gentle, reproachful look it was, and it went right to my heart.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. That little horse evidently thought I had gone off without him, and was upset about it! I realized in that moment that my little black horse actually does love me--he doesn't just tolerate me. My heart melted, and yes, I cried a little.

We played a brief game of "chase me" in the arena. I've never played a horse game with him like that, and we both enjoyed it even though it was too hot to keep it up. Then he followed me to the gate and stood for me to put his halter back on.

Seems kind of silly, putting it down in words, but there was a different kind of communication between us today. It felt absolutely wonderful. I'm still on Cloud Nine....

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