“It’s Sunday and we attempt to turn our hearts and minds away from the ugliness that we fight on behalf of the horses during the week. A time to recharge, refresh and start anew…that is the plan. Inserted, here, is a tale written several months after the epic rescues of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, an emotionaly draining time, indeed. I think you know who the characters are so there is no need for introductions. It’s 0430 hrs as I type this and once completed, I think I will slip out to spend some quality time with the “boys”, they are my battery rechargers. May you all have a restful day…” ~ R.T.
It had been a while since they had spoken with him. They knew that he had been busy, particularly since the hurricanes. Before the storms, he used to come out and sit with them, often sharing conversation and stories over the round bale; but it had been a while. They missed the contact, but could feel the clutter in his mind and the battle raging in his soul. So they calmly waited, knowing that he would return to them. Tonight, he was sitting on the fence, thoughtfully watching them munch on the new round bale in the back pasture.
There was a gentle thump. They all looked up to see that he had hopped off the fence and was heading their way. His features were obscured, due to the backlight effect from the barn’s warm glow. They knew, however, that a smile was hidden in that approaching silhouette and they all sighed in unison as he drew near.
They taught him well on the art of listening. It had taken a few years but one night, many weeks ago, he had heard and learned to listen. Tonight would not be one of those nights, as they could feel his spirit about to explode with the need to unload. That would be okay. They had not heard from him in so long that they would listen. There was not much that they could learn, but they would listen to his tales of human misery and be thankful that he carried those tales to them to share. They closed their eyes and continued to eat, welcoming him to join them.
He walked amongst them, lightly stroking each one and uttering soft verbal welcomes. Gently, he moved up to the round bale and began to pick leaves and sticks out of it so that it would be easier to eat. They liked this. They always liked him to eat with them at night as it made them feel safe. They all closed their eyes and listened as his mind tried to organize its thoughts. It was a mess and he apparently knew it.
As he passed his hands over the round bale, he tried to apologize. He attempted to say that he was sorry for being so distant and, true to human form, he attempted to rationalize and make excuses. What he did not know was that they needed no apologies or excuses; they were simply glad that he was there in the ‘then and now’. They let him go on uninterrupted, as it appeared to be helping him.
He told them stories of human injustices and he showed them images that made them glad that they were not human. He cried a few tears of frustration and then spoke to them of love. He was sincerely full of love on many levels and this drove him mad. His heart went out to them, their brothers, their cousins, and all who could not speak for themselves. He yearned to express his caring to his mate, his family, his friends, and to all of his four-legged children. Over half a century old, he was still like an infant when it came to expressing these feelings. He rattled on and on and on, until the Appaloosa gently rested his chin upon his shoulder and whispered in his ear. The others watched. The Mustang colt moved near to touch him, too; and, then, he quieted while he opened up and listened to the words of truth and inner peace.
She rolled over in the bed and opened her eyes to look at the clock. It was 2 AM and it then dawned on her that there was not a large, masculine shape between her and the clock. She was alone in bed.
Quietly, like a cat, she slipped from under the covers, donned her robe and slippers to check the spare bedrooms to see if he may have gone to bed in another room so as not to wake her. All beds were neatly made and empty. She proceeded to the living room; then to the den where he often fell asleep in his easy chair. She then went to the laundry room where she had an unobstructed view of the guesthouse or the “Man Cave” as he so liked to call it. He would frequently sneak out there to write or curl up on the couch and watch a football game, in secret; so as to hide his innate male tendencies; but all lights were off. She then sighed, kicked off her slippers, and pulled on her muck boots to head outside. It was a bit nippy.
As she exited the back door and made her way around the garages, she could see that all of the lights were on in the barn. “Aha,” she whispered, “so that is where he is.” She did not call out, as she did not want to wake the German Shepherds, who were safely asleep in their doghouse. She scurried to the barn only to discover that it, too, was empty. She walked to the back barn door to peer out into the dark pasture and could see nothing but several figures standing near the round bale, under the light, behind the “Man Cave”. From the barn, she could not make out the congregation so she exited the barn to walk the fence line to the round bale.
The grass was wet, but the boots kept her feet dry. For some reason, a portion of her soul wanted to feel anxious as to her husband’s absence. Another part of her, however, was whispering that it was all right. As she neared the bale, she could see the Brazilian Mangalarga off in the dark. He was several dozen yards away sleeping, yet pointed towards the others at the bale. That was typical as he was a tad standoffish but, again, he was the big protector.
Her pulse quickened. She uttered a small gasp when she came abreast of the bale and saw him lying on the ground with his back planted upright and his legs splayed out in the hay. She then quietly inhaled when she noted that the little Mustang colt was laying next him with his head in her husband’s lap. On the other side was the Appaloosa, sitting like a reproduction of the Sphinx with his front legs tucked under his body, looking dreary-eyed at her. Standing on either side, above them, were the Thoroughbreds; both with back feet cocked and heads dipped low in gentle sleep.
She froze for a moment, as she knew the danger that he was in. She then took in the expression on his face: eyes closed, and mouth frozen in a gentle smile. Her heart melted as she looked at the horses that both stood and lay around him. She actually felt as if she were an intruder into a very special and intimate moment. The Appy yawned and smiled at her; she smiled back and turned towards the house. As she walked back, a warm glow washed over her and buoyed her towards her bed. As she slipped between the covers, it never occurred to her to check to see if he had been breathing. The thought had not been an issue.
To this day, she does not know when he slipped back between the covers and held her in his arms; her sleep was not disturbed, her dreams were sweet, and he was, oh, so very warm. As they lay with their souls intertwined, the horses ran through their dreams; there was the pounding of hooves, a distant whinny heard under a glorious sunrise, and the sweet smell of hay. Their spirits were one and, for that singular fleeting moment, they were at peace. It had been awhile.
Categories: The Force of the Horse