I come from cream colored ponies in English saddles,
dusty outdoor arenas with weathered jumps sprawled in the middle,
brushes and bridles, hoof picks and halters, and the smell of saddle soap and leather and oil.
I come from grooming boxes and hairy Islandics with coats thicker
than the rug on my grandmothers wall and the Draft crosses that
won’t turn until they come to the corner and see the fence.
I come from the thrill of riding bareback for the first time, and mucking stalls
at seven in the morning while the horses are munching down the hay
and snorting through their noses into water buckets.
I come from jumping over cavalettis that turn into oxers
and steering from A to C in a straight line
with a perfect halt in the middle.
I come from cantering down the field and falling off
into the bush where the thorns scratch my face and the mud
sticks to my breeches, but don’t stop me from getting back on.
I come from clinging to the saddle with my thighs
as I attempt my first medium down the diagonal
without stirrups and the horse weighs seven tons in my hand.
I come from braiding the mane at five in the morning and
driving across the country just to have a go
at winning the championships and loosing it by a fraction.
I come from wrapping the front hoof with duct tape
twice a day for a whole two weeks
to take care of the abscess that developed over night.
I come from holding onto the horn and chasing down a calf in California
letting the horse take over because
he knows more about cows than his English trained rider.
I come from galloping over the moor in Sussex on
an old racehorse that suddenly remembers its past
and hoping it will know how to stop on its own.
I come from warming my fingers under the bareback pad
in the midst of a cold winter and the fresh snow
that sticks to the bottom of the hooves giving the horse five inch heels.
I come from watching a baby horse walk for the first time
and then three days later sprint like a pro while I hand walk
a gelding for the third month wishing his tendons are healing faster than possible.
I come from the vet saying that nothing much can be done
what already has not been and leaning into my
thousand pound friend trying to make sense of what is happening.
I come from trying so hard not to cry because
you know you are losing something you
can barely understand yourself but must address anyhow.
I come from just once trading money for a horse but
trading my heart more often and the love that always
seems to find me in the form of a four-legged animal.
I come from friendship and kinship, respect and gratitude,
and the incredible beauty, healing, understanding and peace that
was not only given as a gift, but was also achieved together.
I come from horses.