I’ve been thinking about Julie. Cool name, isn’t it? I make no apologies, I was 6 years old and thought it was the best name ever. I thought Angela was a good name too.
Julie was a pinto pony. She was mean as a snake and I was pretty fearful, especially after the day she kicked me in the face. My father would put me on her bareback and then shoosh her down the dairy barn aisle. Julie was afraid of him, (we all were), and she would scurry away in a quick buck/trot gait, with me hanging on to anything I could, at least for a while.
Then I’d hit the ground, where I learned my first horse rule: If you get bucked off, you climb back on. It was years and years before I found out the real reason to remount. At 6 years old, I thought you got back on because it was better than what your Dad did if you didn’t!
It defies logic to explain how Julie, in between bouts of trying to kill me, saved my life but she did. We were never great riding partners, but sometimes when we hid out together, I knew she understood me. I can’t explain it any better than that. Horses seem to know the human heart.
In a few years, we lost our farm, and all my pets were sold at auction. Our family moved to another state, but somehow Julie was still vaguely around, just out of view. What if our first ponies become guardian angels? It would explain a lot, good and bad.
Do you ever try to understand this tie between horses and humans? A drug habit would be cheaper and easier to break. Horses take most of our time and all of our money. They require bold courage and soft humility, simultaneously! And no matter how great our commitment is, we are always asked for more.
Yet somehow in the middle of this dysfunctional addiction, they rescue us. Do you feel it? Some of us get rescued from vanity and fashion sense. Some of us get rescued from fear and loneliness, and some rescued from the danger of our own species. Sometimes special horses come deep into the dark places inside of our own hearts, and carry us out to safety.
In another way, horses are born victims. They are a prey species, like rodents or deer, they are designed to be food for others. But unlike other prey, with grace and strength, they reach out and trust their predators. It’s brave and crazy, the way they herd-up with us. Maybe they understand inclusiveness more than we do, but as a result, horses are always needing rescue from unscrupulous people.
So horses and humans are forever rescuing each other. Does that make us co-dependent? Is that a bad thing?
The more I work with horses, the more I respect them. Even in their fear, they are trying to trust. For some of them, all they know of humans is abuse, and yet, they continue to try. Maybe the biggest lesson horses teach us is about forgiveness. The horse word for that is rescue.
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.