27 November 2011

Ballad of a Runaway Horse

Precita, Drago, and Blaze roaming the range, Magdalena, NM, June 2011
Since June I've had the great pleasure of being able to go out to my dad's property north of town not only to let the dogs run and enjoy the stillness but also to commune with a small band of horses belonging to friends. It has taken some time to get to know them, for them to trust me and for me to tune into and read their cues so I don't scare or push them away. Now, even if I forget to bring them treats, they seem pleased to see me and usually walk with me and the dogs for a while before heading off to graze on their own. They are proving to be very therapeutic company both for their calm, centered presence and as occasional mirrors for issues I can't see or understand using my "rational," word-dependent left brain.

La bella Precita
Precita, the lone mare in the group, was skittish with me in the beginning and I had to approach her slowly, but over time her trust has grown and now she's usually the first one to find me and the last one to wander away. Sometimes when I'm standing or sitting among the horses she comes up to me and gently nuzzles my hand or even rests her big mug on my shoulder. Other times she comes up and nudges me, then dances away with a little crow-hop and buck as if to say, hey, loosen up -- find your Inner Mustang and play a little, or just bolt and run, whatever it takes to get away from that dust devil kicking up in your head. No words, no analysis, just play for a change.

Today Precita trots up to greet me and nudges my arm just as I'm focusing my camera on a nice shot of near-twins Blaze and Drago mirroring each other perfectly. I'm still feeling raw about something that happened yesterday, and I'm so intent on getting a perfect photograph -- what, am I on assignment from National Geographic here? -- that I push her back and she snorts, which startles Drago who looks like he might break the mirror pattern. Prescita once again nudges me gently and, annoyed that the camera gets shaken again, I put an elbow to her jaw and exclaim "Git!" She rears back from me and then puts her head down by her hooves to rub it, and it's then that I see the chunk of half-dead cholla caught in her mane just behind her ears, the long thorns likely digging deep into her neck. I realize Precita is in fact trying to tell me something important. I can't "hear" her because my head is churning with my own stuff that compels me to callously bat away this creature who simply wants to stand near me and, by the way, would I be so kind as to remove this awful thing digging into her neck.

Just as I reach up toward her, Precita turns tail and bolts up the hill, stopping for a moment to buck the living crap out of some imaginary demon riding her and yanking the reins and spurring her flank raw, then charges over the crest and out of sight. I thought, wow, that's some hell of a tantrum, girl. A hour or so later, as I'm sitting on a rock watching the other horses graze, I feel a soft nudge at my shoulder. I slowly raise my hand to her and she nuzzles it gently, standing quietly behind me as if to say, okay, I'm done now, I'm back, we can be friends again. And finally, I get the cholla out of her mane.

I'm glad she trusted me enough to come back, eventually.

I know that sometimes we forget how to use our words.

And sometimes we just don't want to use our words. Sometimes bolting and bucking and running far away feel so much better than stammering and struggling to say just the right words. We run away just to get it all out, just to say, fine, you weren't really listening anyway so to hell with you. (For now.)

Humans can be really dumb sometimes. They ignore or mistreat or take for granted those who care about them, four-legged and two-legged, then wonder why they get left behind in a cloud of dust. A few wise ones ponder their part in what happened, wait and hope for their runaway friend to come back, and do their best not to callously provoke another galloping tantrum. I understand why Precita runs: she's been penned up and reined in hard and spurred raw, and she never wants to go there again.


Nadege, said...

It's so lovely to see these horses roaming free. Lovely images.

stregata said...

Great photos! And thank you for sharing this...

Jennifer said...

A lovely post, Anna. Thanks.

Wendy said...

Wonderful post and pictures! Thank you for sharing! :)