Wild horses

It always happens the same way.

I am in a rush, getting somewhere or getting back to somewhere, and I feel panicked and stressed and cannot concentrate on anything but the swirling thoughts of everything I need to get done and how quickly I can get there and get those things done. And then something happens.

In this case, it was four horses who had gotten loose from their paddock and were running in somewhat frightened laps around the barn, unsure of what to do with their newfound freedom. As I stood there, it occurred to me, as it always does, that there no was no place I needed to be but right there. In fact, I was going to stay there as long as I needed to.

My older daughter (13 in a couple of days) (I know!) has started taking horseback riding lessons after a lifetime of what you might call a horse adoration. The farm is just a half mile down the road from our house and usually I drop her off, zoom away to do some errands, and then pick her up, all the while trying to fit as much into that short time as possible.

I don’t really share my daughter’s love of horses, though I can admit they are gorgeous animals, but they always strike me as rather high-maintenance and also so nervous. Cows, on the other hand, though maybe not the smartest animals in the world, I find incredibly peaceful. I could (and have) watch them forever just chewing grass (and every time I see cows, which is every single day, I think about how they are outstanding in their field. This joke never gets tired.). I love their huge huge eyes and the way that they look at you, really look at you, and then just go on with whatever they were doing (which is pretty much just chewing grass). What could be more peaceful.

Meanwhile, on this particular day, I was driving up to the barn when I saw some horses running loose. I was at first thinking about getting back home and all the things I had to get done, but then I thought about the horses. They were probably not meant to be loose like that. I parked my car and got out. Seconds later the woman in charge raced out of the barn and began trying to round up the horses. My daughter and I stood off to the side. There was nothing we could do, and we knew that any sudden movements on our part would terrify them more. We basically had to stand there. And so we did.

The horses ran around together in a group (my daughter pointed out that they are pack animals) and at one point the four came right up to a horse who was inside a paddock. They huddled together and it looked as though they were trying to come up with a plan. How could they get in there with that guy? The horse inside looked concerned for them and they looked longing. Then in a flash they all took off again, with the woman in charge racing behind.

Eventually (in what seemed to be an off stage maneuver, somewhere that we couldn’t see) the woman in charge and her helper managed to get all the horses into stalls in the barn. And then my daughter and I slowly walked away, satisfied that everything was as it should be.

I could no longer remember what exactly I had been so anxious to do. Time had slowed down and then stopped. All that seemed to make sense was that some panicked horses get back where they belonged. And then, the same thing made sense for us. We got into our car and I drove us the short way home.


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