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Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

$50 Friend

By Sally Gosen Case, South Beach , OR

 

December 2012 issue

 

     The mare was terrified. She quivered whenever I came near her. Every bone protruded from the ragged brown body. She looked like a filthy gunny sack full of kindling.

     Did I want her? My teenaged eyes saw only promise, but this animal would need more than food; years of abuse would have to be overcome and she would need to be completely retrained.

     She trotted willingly into our borrowed trailer, my first glimpse of her quick mind. She saw a way out and she took it. Swaying weakly, she fell several times but endured the trip home. Once there, she took up residence in the corner of her stall, hindquarters toward the door, ready to fight as mares will — with her hind hooves.  

 

     We brought food. Hay, oats, pellets, mash…throughout every day, we fed that horse. She learned to face the door, to look for us, and eventually to beg like a spoiled child. She made faces. She waved with a forefoot. She made hilarious noises, and when we laughed, she seemed to laugh, too. Her shaggy brown fur was replaced with a tight, sleek, nearly-black mahogany coat.

     I walked her, like a dog, through our neighborhood. She would stroll peacefully; then, without warning, she would explode in a terrified fury. I quickly learned to dodge the flying hooves and wait for the storm to pass. People driving by would laugh at me, but they couldn’t see the whip scars on her flanks.

     I soon noticed that she seemed to be reading my mind. I would go to clean a hoof and she would be holding it up. She seemed to know where we were going before I did. She often broke out of her stall and would unfailingly find me wherever I was.

     We communicated with eyes, with touch, like best friends.

     In spite of her tendency to spook, I started to ride. In the gathering light of every morning, we galloped through the fields bareback. Then we stopped using the bridle. I just “thought” where I wanted her to go.  

 

     I had never trained a horse in dressage, the classic “high school” of horse training. She had barely been trained at all. It just happened to us. She had the quick mind of a scholar and the lithe body of a dancer. She cantered with her precise, measured steps, changing leads with every stride. She glided sideways, pirouetted around one hoof, and trotted in the ballet-like passage. All she asked was that I would teach her more.

     I look back from middle age and wonder if I would give such a horse a chance now. I fear that, with my adult wisdom, I would not.

     I have lost the hope and the foolishness of childhood. Because of that simplicity of youth, I once owned a beautiful and talented Tennessee Walking Horse; more than that, I found friendship with a unique and delightful creature.

 

      Sally Gosen Case is a freelance writer living in a rural part of the central Oregon coast. She writes nonfiction which is mainly about living in the country.

 

 

Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

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