Names that make a sound like laughter on the tip of your tongue. Clydesdale – you hear clip-clopping hooves and squeaking wheels. Thoroughbred – you’re surrounded by an explosion of brick, the shouts, the galloping. Add Quarter Horse, Mustang, Connemara Pony. A carousel of breeds: their colors, shapes, and knowing eyes. Saddlebred, Percheron, Pinto, Appaloosa, Paint. Flickering manes and tails curve into letters, words of an unspoken language that could fill all of their pastures, fields, or stables, now cradled as a foal in the palm of your hand. Whisper the delicate enormity of Warmblood into existence; shout out Shetland to ignite tiny TNT.
Glazed donut eyes see past the rows and rows of gleaming coats, zero in on the Snow White of horses, who could be fairer than the pharaoh of all? Arabian. Zesty, fast.
A reverberation of moonbeams causes ripples in the desert sand that shift tectonic plates underneath my shaking feet. Off balance, I catch myself on the mahogany swan bowed neck. When I look up, his eyes smile at me. Soft nostrils sigh on my hair and sniff me for treats while I drag a curry in looping circles along his back. So it’s not the breed then; no matter whether your home is in a spacious riding ring on a prancing Andalusian, or in the hollow silence of the woods sitting bareback on a grazing Halflinger. It’s in his eyes, a direct link to the emotions.
I never belonged to a person, not for long at least. Four legs are better than two and take you places faster than the Flintstone’s clob-iddity-clap-bop! car. They can leap over moldy logs too crumbly to climb, wade through mud that swallows our weaker feet, and crush the darkness like a fly in the stale heat of a barn night. And the eyes, the eyes that catch you, that tree ten yards away, and the circling vultures above all in one sweeping cast of a gleaming brown net. Horses can’t see directly in front of them, or directly behind. What a perfect existence, from now until forever, not to be blinded by grief over what’s past or a craving to see the impossible-to-see ahead.
Could the curve of your back be my moon? My hips and legs fill this empty space like the stars, warping myself into a centaur. I was born here, not the awkward girl with bad hair days and worse skin. Me: your rider. I don’t know if I can call you “my,” though you certainly are a horse, the sweetest I could hope to love.
I am from you – like the distorted image of a golden-leaved Sycamore in a brown little rain puddle. A reflection that poorly reflects the beauty it was taken from, but still I mean to be the same as you. An echo, at least. Horse: through me, through these words, may you live forever.