Tag Archives: Horses

#Horses and Being

Yeah, I know. I’m writing another blog about horses and my stay here in Indiana rather than writing about—well…writing. I should be enticing you with excerpts from works in progress and deleted scenes from already published novels. Instead, I’m yammering on about my American version of a walkabout. I guess, indirectly I am writing about writing. As authors, our life experiences tend to play out in our work. Sometimes in subtle ways. Maybe we have a friend who is good at knife throwing, so we round out a character by giving her that hobby. A brief, one-line mention, but there it is. Now the reader has a vivid image of a woman thwacking knives into a tree at twenty paces.

What in tarnation, you ask, does this have to do with horses and being? *Drum roll, please.* My current lay-over is on a horse breeding farm, and I want to share with you what happened during my walk home from doing barn chores one night.

The moon was two-thirds full, and cast a silver sheen upon everything. Clouds obscured the stars, so the moon sat like a constricted pupil in the ring of a silver iris. Anyone know the legend that tells of the ring around the moon?

Anyway, the night forced me to pay attention to it regardless of my knowledge in such lore. Was it the pending rain? The ring around the moon? Or forces beyond our comprehension, where the primitive part of us sits up and takes notice? The cats, dogs, and horses certainly seemed affected. They were quiet, yet sought contact. It mattered not what species, so long as there was touch or sharing of breathing space.

This camaraderie continued as I headed for home—a half-mile walk down a long dirt road, where horse pastures bank either side. This night, my walk was accompanied by the horses, who followed along the fence until halting to hang their sage heads over the wooden rail, as though asking me in the silent way of horses, to stop, too.

Anyone who has ever had the privilege to stand near these creatures understands one thing: they are elemental.

So I listened. I stopped to share my breath as they in turn did theirs, their muzzles velvety warm. The cats and dogs remained, laying around together, the cats dragging shepherd-crook tails under the noses of the dogs.

It was a moment of Being. It was just us. A small group—eleven in all. One human, two cats, three dogs, and five horses. Yet the moment felt huge, beyond me, although utterly me. Where I was in that crucible of time was exactly where I was supposed to be. That feeling was paradoxically humbling yet empowering. It fed my heart to continue this trek across America, to push on through my walkabout across an unknown country.

I have no clue where I’ll end up. All I know is that I will wind up somewhere, and when I do I will be where I should be and who I am to be.

Thanks to dogs, cats, and horses. And the moon.

~S.C. Dane

#Bucking Horses and Rambunctious Foals

Well everyone, another week has passed and I have no clue where the time went! As I’ve lamented, I’m busier than a mouth at a pie eating contest.

I’m enjoying the new job working with the horses. Sometimes, though, I’ve been so busy I’ve forgotten to step back and take a look at the view. I’m not talking the landscape here, either, unless you count a herd of horses charging through a field. Which is what I remembered to enjoy today as I was calling in the mares with their foals.

I heard them first, rumbling across the earth as they crested a hill to charge toward the barn. I stood back as they galloped by me, hooves kicking up dirt clods and toplines stretched flat as they raced each other. Occasionally, a mare or foal would buck and hop, or kick up their heels and toss their heads. Happy horses, these.

We also put all of the yearlings together in a great spread of a pasture where they could run and establish the pecking order without any of them getting trapped, or seriously hurt because of it. Again, it was a moment I stopped to enjoy. This age is really when you begin to see the potential growing in these fine creatures. Their athleticism gained within one year is astounding. Until you watch the four year olds. Then, by glory, you see a magnificent horse with chutzpah!

But I’ve skipped a couple of growing years in between! Needless to say, there is beauty in every age. Even the older broodmares bear a wisdom and a kindness that make them a true pleasure to work around. I never forget to take a few moments to enjoy these women. While I’m picking stalls, I offer to scratch an itchy spot here, or caress a tender muzzle there.

All these moments I’ve described are what make the stall cleaning worth it. Just the smell of the barns, or the soft nickers at feeding times are enough to keep me enjoying my work, no matter how physically tired I am at the end of the day. I think it’s why I can still write, even though my body feels like all it wants to do is stand under a hot shower to slough away the dust and manure streaks. Which is fine, since all I need to ask of it by then is to rat-a-tat my fingers across a keyboard.

But it’s my brain and spirit which are still surging strong, despite the wear and tear of a busy day. Am I getting as much time as I crave to write? Of course not. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and I can’t do everything I want. But living and working with a large herd of horses isn’t a shabby way to spend one’s life. It’s all about doing what we love and finding the balance that works for us. Someday, there will be a reversal. I won’t have the strength and stamina to do what I’m doing now.

I know this, which is why I’m enjoying my trek across our beautiful country while I have the energy to juggle all the flaming pins I’m holding. Will I get burned? Perhaps. But where would be the breathtaking moments if I didn’t chance it?

~S.C. Dane