def. beau-ty (noun): the combination of qualities that make something pleasing and impressive to listen to or touch, or especially to look at.
As a kid I used to ride with my friends on their pony. His name was River Boy--and, with him, we played out many great games of escape and intrigue. Maybe it was while racing bareback through the fields near their house that my love for horses began. In my late 20's I biked halfway across the United States in search of wild horses (...and when I found them I nearly peed my pants with joy!). Let's just say that my love for horses runs deep. But, despite this love, in my adult life I've only ridden or handled them a half dozen times (if that). So when my aunt called to ask if I would take care of her horses and dog for the weekend I jumped at the opportunity. It wasn't until after I hung up and told my worry-wart husband, that the reality started to sink in. The dog, an Irish Setter, was no big deal. But horses? My adventurous, self-confident, horse-loving side had spoken before I even had a chance to stop myself. Ummm, yeah...I know pretty much nothing about horses. So how the hell did I all of a sudden become responsible for the care and feeding of these FIVE magnificent 3/4 ton animals??
Last night Vinny and I hardly slept. Vinny was worried we'd get trampled. Without an alarm clock, I was worried we'd sleep in and upset the horses' usual routine. We were both a little cranky with each other because driving all the way out to my aunt's house also meant that we ended up having to give up our tickets to the orchestra. Not to mention, we had to figure out how we were going to take care of our own animals without spending our entire weekend driving back and forth. This, of course, is a classic example of how I over-schedule myself.
Lately, I've been spending all of my time either sitting in front of the computer trying to write my thesis or working at the bookstore. I was looking forward to another orchestra experience--especially after the last time. I was more than ready to give my thoughts a break and hand myself over to an evening of music. But then we realized how much time it would take to drive there and back and that it meant we wouldn't have time to get ready or eat dinner and so...we didn't go to the orchestra.
Instead we ate chicken pot pies and watched TV (although this was also a luxury considering we don't have one!). We snuggled with KC (the dog) and then headed to bed. Ho-hum. Hard bed and worried thoughts--morning came too quickly.
When I got up it was still dark outside. I made a pot of coffee, put on my aunt's horse-smelly jacket, and took a few deep gulps of my black brew before heading out into the cold snowy morning towards the barn. Vinny followed, not far behind.
When we got there I leaned my body into the barn door and slid it open.
And the deep rumbling of those five massive animals. Huffing and breathing. Stomping and stamping. One kicked at his stall door. I felt their hungry, low-pitched neighing travel up my legs and through my body. From the ground up--the sheer vibration traveled the lengths of my bones--and the first thing that registered in my mind was absolute, saucer-eyed fear.
The next thing that registered was AWE.
In the cavernous shadows of the barn, I couldn't see anything except white puffs of breath. I stood there. Motionless. And in that moment...I couldn't have cared less that I had given up my chance to go to the orchestra. My god--those horses were an orchestra.
We entered. Reluctantly.
I walked back and forth past the stalls trying to find a light switch while the horses continued their low-cello-whispers. Such sound. Such darkness. They didn't know me and I didn't know them... It took awhile to find the lights. Heart pounding. Everything unfamiliar.
As I opened the door to the first stall, it felt a lot like the moment before jumping into a cold lake. And it wasn't until I stepped past that threshold that my fear fell away. Instinctively, I reached out and ran my hand down the lengths of his neck, then cleaned out old hay and gave him his feed. One at a time--I stepped into one stall and then the next and then the next... They brushed against me gently, nuzzling for their food and to see who I was. They softened with my touch...and I softened with theirs.
After they were finished eating, we needed to get them all out into the pasture. Again--one at a time--Vinny opened the doors and I put the rope loosely around their necks and led them out. I couldn't help but be nervous to be in charge of such incredibly big, powerful creatures. But the horses showed me what to do. They showed me that I could trust them and in turn, they trusted me. Bo, the biggest, was also the most gentle. Stepping into his stall took my breath away.
Vinny and I didn't really talk much until we were all done. Standing out in the pasture with all five horses, I turned to him and lamely exclaimed: "That was cool!" Yes, I'm a dork (but you should know that by now).
All I can say is that this has been one helluva morning.
...definately worth missing an orchestra for.