As I finished up chores, my anticipation was growing. I felt nervous tickles in my stomach as I walked out to the pasture to get him. His rear was facing me as he was helping himself to the hay bale, I smiled as I saw his rump between Raji and Jethro who are the two large draft crosses here. He looks like a little boy hanging out with the big guys. I slowed my pace and took a deep breath, as I approached him I softened my hands and gently laid my right hand on his rump and slid it up to his shoulder as I approached his head, he turned his head towards me and I handed him a horse cookie which he gladly accepted. I took off his fly mask and slid the halter over his face. We walked up to the barn together, side by side and at peace with sharing each others space. He stopped at the tank for a long drink of water and we then headed on up to the barn and out to the trailer. He started to load right up next to me, but then stopped, put on the brakes and backed out. We had to work together a little bit but eventually he decided it was ok to be loaded up, Kim brought Sisco in and we headed out to the trails. The air conditioning is out in my truck and we have to travel with the windows down. It gives you a different perspective to travel with the windows down. You hear the noises of the road, the cars revving up their engines, the trucks whizzing by, how the trailer squeaks, how the truck squeaks, and the horses if they call out. You also notice the smells of the road, the way the wind is blowing, and how hot it feels when you stop. It makes me more mindful of what the horses are experiencing back there in the trailer. I find myself driving differently; more quiet, softer, and gentle in the way I guide the truck and trailer where I want to go. I find myself trying to make it as pleasant as possible for the horses back there. It’s so easy to forget what they are going through with the windows rolled up, stereo on, and the temperature constant and comfortable.
When we get to the trail head Buzz is very relaxed, he comes out and sniffs my hand to see if I have a treat. I can’t resist his request, and as I reach into the trailer to get the brushes to groom him I hand him a cookie. I love to groom him, he enjoys it when I scratch his neck and rub ointment on all the itchy places the gnats have been biting him. Saddling him up is a breeze and he takes the bit from my hand. I sit on the edge of the trailer while I wait for my trail buddies to get their horses ready. I drop my head down and Buzz brings his head to my face. We stay there in that quiet place and enjoy the moment. I feel his breath on my face and the softness of his muzzle as I reach up my hands to caress his face. He is such a horse of my heart and just being in his bubble makes my heart relax. It’s been hard to let things go lately. The United States sure doesn’t feel united anymore and Covid scares me so bad because of Danielle. My heart has felt like a dead weight and upside down with sorrow, fear, and worry. Buzz in this moment helps me feel openness, kindness, and unity.
I look up and everyone is ready, we all head to the mounting block, Buzz is right next to me and I feel his curiosity. We are riding with Sisco, a horse from his heard, and two mares, Viva and Gypsy, who live the in the other pasture. He is curious about them and interested. He also is connected to me in a way he hasn’t been before. I feel his questions through the reins as I lead him over to the mounting block. There is a small hesitation I feel through the bit and into my hands and it tickles the back of my mind. I’ve felt that before, the question before we do and I leave it there because now it’s now my turn to use the mounting block and time to head out with my friends. I settle onto his back and he stands to wait for me to get my right foot in the stirrup and my hands connected to him through the reins. He says hello to me and we move off, first Kim and Gypsy, then Kelli and Viva, then Buzz and me, and bringing up the rear is Kim and Sisco. We all start up a conversation on how beautiful the day is. In the background I’m talking to Buzz. It’s a rhythm, a feel, a sensation, a thought. I feel his question come through the reins again, touching me and then my response is “a bird, stay straight”, a rhythm, a feel, a cadence a walk. His ears flick back and forth, I feel his breath, his ribcage swings from side to side, I feel his legs under me, I feel the opening between his footsteps and ask him to move over within the rhythm of his walk. My body moves with him and I can feel each footstep likes it’s my own. I find myself sinking more into him, I feel safe, my heart opens more and the veil of unease that has settled around me starts to lift. I feel our rhythm but can also feel the world around me, I’m still having a conversation with my friends, but I see the butterfly and identify it as a monarch, I see the wildflowers and note the way the wind is blowing as they nod their heads. Our rhythm never changes, but he hesitates through his bit and I feel another question, “it’s a bird”, I say “keep going this way.” He follows my answer and we keep going. Then I feel something else, the safety I felt as a child when I rode Dunny. Tears well in my eyes, the little girl I was is with me again. My heart opens wide, it’s huge and tears well up in my eyes, and I feel safe and sure footed. My body doesn’t hurt, my arthritic knees don’t ache, I feel free and able to do anything. We keep going, Buzz and me, along with my dear friends. Buzz and I move to the front. I’m not talking much except to tell them how I’m feeling. My heart fills with so much gratitude I don’t know what to do with it. It’s beautiful out there on the trails, the beauty is so stunning I can’t describe it. Buzz is curious, strong, brave, and so willing. His rhythm doesn’t falter but he asks another question. I answer “I’ll make going down this hill easier for you”, as I shift my weight back and lighten my legs in the stirrup. It’s become second nature to talk to him through my mind and body and he responds every time. It comes to me in that moment, why this feels so familiar. It’s the way JJ and I were together. My heart swells again because it feels like he is there with us. My body moves so well with Buzz because it’s familiar. That strut JJ had never let me down and Buzz feels the same. Tears well up in my eyes, I’m glad I’m leading so the others don’t see it, because the tears feel good and I want to let them flow, but I do say out loud to them, “I feel like I am home.”