There is something spiritual in the eyes of horses. Dogs, too. But this is about Shy. A horse. My horse.
The foal to the left is a beautiful paint, who nibbled on my fingers, perhaps hoping for some milk. I could not accommodate him. It was a privilege, though, to be in this foal’s proximity, close enough to have my fingers between his lips, to see the peaceful, perhaps knowing substance of his eyes.
“…I believed deeply in the sightedness of horses. I believed that there was nothing that they did not witness. I believed that to have a horse between my legs, to extend my pulse and blood and energy to theirs, enhanced my vision. Made of me a seer. I believed them to be the dappled, sorrel, roan, bay, black pupils in the eyes of God.” Mark Spragg, “Where Rivers Change Direction.” It is beyond me to be more eloquent with this notion of what it is in the eyes of horses that captures my interest, my imagination; humbles me somehow when in their presence. Spragg’s beautiful words are worth the read. I urge you to let yourself get lost in those words, the conclusions of a man who knows horses.
Here is Shy. He is a five-year-old bay stallion. Unbroken. He is half-wild, but is curios about people. He will allow you to approach him, but will step gently away if your reach for him. He does not know your intent is harmless. He does not know your intent is to fulfill something in yourself, some need to inch closer to the goodness of the world, by simply touching him, sliding your hand down from his forelock to his muzzle, to scratch his neck.
Horses know, of course, that, in their world, predators have eyes in the front of their heads, looking forward. Shy’s wariness of people is understood. My yearn to assuage that wariness is valued not so much as a challenge, but a responsibility, much like a human parent nurtures their infant’s want, need to eventually stand upright, to walk on their own…fearless with the effort. Shy, of course, stood upright minutes after his birth…a natural imperative for a horse. The fearlessness I seek for Shy, is in his relationship with people.
Fulfilling a dream from childhood, I jumped headlong into the opportunity presented not long ago to own a horse. No, that isn’t correct. I do not believe one “owns” a horse. I believe one is only provided the opportunity to make palpable the essence of a dream, to become intimate with a fantasy made real. Sure, there is the bill of sale; the ledger of costs already accumulating; the worry about this and that. And, to top it off, Shy is still 150 miles away from my touch. But, then, how does one begrudge the cost, when it buys a dream?
Shy will soon be gelded, inoculated, wormed; then be broken (I really don’t like that word!)… Rephrase: …then he will go through the process of gentling, staying with the trainer for a month, possibly two.
Then, if all goes well, I’ll somehow get him down here to Denver, get him set-up at a boarding facility nearby and, well… I suspect that will become a “story” all in itself. I’ve never done this before. What surprises await!
Yes, that’s Shy’s ferocious face. More likely he’s just tasting the air, or showing off, or just stretching his jaws. I have so much to learn about horses, about Shy. Oh, yes, I have read the books, like Spragg’s, and have come away with an admittedly idealized notion of relationships between horses and men and women. Not that I am so much seeking that idealized relationship, but, rather, I suppose I am just seeking the opportunity to inch a bit toward that idealized notion.
I would be remiss in not mentioning that this new, exciting, worisome, extraordinary, costly phase of my life was enabled by some precious friends and their friends and relatives up in Southern Routt County. They have been so helpful, so accommodating, so patient with my obsessiveness about the ordeal of the dream that has unfolded for me, now in my, ahem, middle-age years.
Finally–I love this picture–we see Shy and his girlfriend. Whether or not it is significant (I really don’t know), when I last saw Shy, he was content to simply hang-out with this small mare, while the other stallions were chasing and nipping each other, all intent on gathering their harems, all imbued with the call of spring, the odor of mares ready/willing to be seeded.
So, I suspect there will be more to come with this story. I suspect my obsessiveness, my worry about the eventual outcome of this story will consume some little space on the old blog. But, then, I am sorely weary of the esoteric subject matter that I’ve posted for some many months (years, even). A new phase, a new reality in my life? Yes, of course. Turning inward, I suppose; an urge to grab–as a kid on a merry-go-round grabs for the golden loop–the prize, the prize of self-fulfillment.
Please, anyone reading this who has advice for me, please don’t hesitate to comment. I believe I’m going to need all the help I can get.