The sun gleams through the mare’s flaxen mane, setting it on fire with light. She stretches her head down and yawns, licking her lips and blinking. I bury my face in her neck, smelling the most familiar smell – perfumey, musky, feminine and pure; my first horse, my very own. She smells like sunshine and air and hay. As I stroke her neck I run my fingers over layers of my own mistakes, a map of my learning ; muscles misshapen through incorrect use of her body and ignorance. I wish I could have known then what I know now, and I hope I keep doing better, to make up for my wrongdoing through not knowing.
Some new muscles peak through, and her neck and tail hang relaxed now. With her relaxed eye and lip she tells me I’ve hooked onto something better that works for her.
I’ve learned more from this mare than any other horse. At times I can’t understand why she even gave a quarter of what she did – but the heart of a horse is grateful and giving. With half a chance at being understood, they’ll give what they can muster and more. So many times she’s filled in for me, where she’s been where I needed her to be when my timing was late.
I promised to do right by my mare the day I got her. I’ve fumbled, struggled, and tried too hard for years, arrogantly believing I was fixing her, before I was able to see she was teaching me to have better timing, a better understanding, patience, balance, and feeling for a horse’s needs. To relax and let it take the time it takes, and to be a better human being so as to have something to offer her in return, and the next horses that come along needing help, and helping me.