Remember how my dad came to visit last weekend? Well here he is chiming in. A little intro: he is a colonel in the Air National Guard, an exceedingly accomplished surgeon, and a professor at an Ivy League medical school. So yeah, no slouch. He’s smarter than anyone I know, works harder than any two, and loves harder than any three people put together. I could talk for days about how wonderful of a person/father/brother/husband/son/friend/doctor/etc. he is, but I’ll save that for another time. For now, I’ll just let the man speak.
Sweet mother of pearl, you’re going to jump WHAT?!?
I am no ninny. I’ve climbed vertical cliffs hundreds of feet high, I’ve scuba dived, I’ve jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, I’ve flown straight up at 1,000 mph and thrown my F-16 through 9G turns (at one point I had missile lock on a tractor trailer, but that’s a story for another time), and I’ve been to war. Honest. In all of this I do not recall a moment’s fear or hesitation. Truly, I am no ninny. What I am is the father of one of those crazy horse people, and watching her and that behemoth arc through the air over those oh-so-folksy looking death barriers makes me afraid.
I don’t know that all horse people are crazy horse people because I haven’t met all the horse people, but all the ones I have met are of the crazy variety. Not the insane kind of crazy or any bad kind of crazy, just completely over the top about horses and anything to do with horses; A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G.! What proof do I have, you ask? Example the first: would it ever occur to a non-horse person to dress up a 17+ hands animal as a Tour de France bicycle – complete with huge cardboard wheels and handlebars – for Halloween and then actually ride around in this getup? No, of course not! Example the second: Go to a tack store (the bigger ones are the best for this because you get a bigger response), go to about the middle of the store and say in a loud, friendly voice “Um, could I please get some advice on which one of these things to buy?” Immediately you’ll see heads pop up over the top of the shelves all over the store, swiveling in all directions in an attempt to locate the source of the request, looking for the life of me like a bunch of meerkats or scouts from a prairie dog city. All helpful, all happy, all knowledgeable, all delighted to help out at length, and all completely crazy.
The amateur animal behavioral psychologist in me is puzzled about why a 1500 pound animal will take directions from someone a fraction of his size and weight. Yes, yes, I’ve heard this crazy horse lady say that all Frankie has between his ears is elevator music, but before you say “well, if all there is in there is elevator music, then of course he listens to her” I’ve also seen this same phenomenon when she rode Addy, a VERY smart Percheron cross boss-mare, and Star, a four-legged warmblood thug she owned and campaigned in high school that would have just as soon bite me as look at me. I’m pretty sure I know what ran/runs through the minds of all three horses: “this two-legger is crazy, and I better do what she wants or she might snap!”
I think horses are magnificent animals. Watching the invisible communication between horse and rider and seeing the elegance of movement is breathtaking. Watching draft horses, muscles rippling, lean into the collar and pull with immense strength and fortitude makes my heart want to burst with admiration for the pureness of their effort. Put crazy horse lady up on one of these magnificent creatures, and HAY ZEUS, you’re going to jump over WHAT?!? Elegance-schmelegance, fortitude my aching mustache! That horse is trying to kill you , those jumps are too high and I saw that rail over there, the one with the colorful stripes, actually try to grab the leg of the last horse to run this course (that’s right, I’m looking right at you, stripey-pole)! I can’t watch, you can’t make me watch, I’m sticking my fingers in my ears and closing my eyes so I can’t see or hear this, you can’t make me watch LALALALALA I can’t hear you!!!
But of course I watch, with my heart in my throat, because crazy horse lady is my daughter, Frankie is the horse version of tall, dark and handsome, and when crazy horse lady and Frankie are on their game, I can’t tell where the one leaves off and the other begins. The economy of motion, the seemingly effortless fluid movement, crazy horse-lady’s laser focus and Frankie’s near-intuitive sensing of what she has in mind, the oneness, is nothing short of marvelous. That kind of partnership, born of training, affection, caring and mutual respect, is so unusual and so special.
I don’t pretend to have that kind of communication with Frankie, but crazy horse lady let me get up for a short bit and walk around some. Before I got down, I leaned forward, patted him his oh-so broad and muscular neck, and whispered thanks for being such a good partner with her and for taking such good care of her. He flicked an ear back towards me as I spoke. And then I listened ever so carefully just to make sure- definitely no elevator music.