The old gelding's eye sockets are hollow or maybe he's pulled his gaze inward. Once a trumpet blast of a colt, now he rocks back on a hip, withers peaked high. His rebar spine exposed to the crest of his tail. He favors that thicker knee. Is he happy? If it matters to a stoic horse, he doesn't show it. Ears pinned, he defends his hay in a solitary pen. Mid-morning he drags hooves to open ground, neck stretched long, seeking the warmest soil. One hind hoof steps under, the other teeters, joining to keep balance. The gelding turns a step as his steely back arches, his haunches vibrating. He crouches but takes one more turning step. The arthritic knee can't bear the weight, so the other takes the extra burden. Every worn-out part of his body compensates for something else worn-out. For a quivering paused moment he tenses to hold himself. He means to lower his body but muscles have wasted away. His crouch goes deeper and still he holds. Craving the ground but resisting the fall, until he can't. Dropping hard, he releases a moan from some place gone dark. Some place that remembers a lusty gallop. A tick of relief in the friction of a roll but it's not safe on the ground. Anxious prey, he labors back up on brittle legs. If this old gelding roamed free, a predator would have claimed him long ago. Instead he lives in limbo, never running but still breathing. Lives in limbo, under the appraising eye of a predator ...who loves him.
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. And then I write a poem. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)