Back on Our Heads

(c) Lynne GlazerI always have a hard time getting back to consensual reality after the weirdness that is December. Everyone is in a strange state of mind, sometimes good, sometimes bad. The atmosphere is frantic, the consumerhucksterism is off the charts, but then there’s this eerie quiet underneath.

It’s the quiet that stays after the guests have left and the gifts are wrapped or unwrapped and the food is eaten or stored for later. A sense of being out of the world. Frustrating to try to get any work done or any mundane necessities happening, but when the mind stops spinning and the lights are allowed to just go on shining, it’s remarkably peaceful.

Which is why it took me so long, this year, to put the house back to rights. It felt as if I was living in a kind of sacred space. Taking it all down would bring the hard daylight in, and pull me back to workaday normality.

I did finally do it, of course. Normal is insistent. Quite a bit of it is useful, too, and even good. The routine of work. The open space where the tree was, where the daylight can come freely in.

The horses’ routine never lets up. No matter the season, they have to be fed, watered, cared for. But work for them has been on hiatus while I dealt with year-from-hell, though on New Year’s Day I made sure to ride one of them, because, you know, begin as you mean to go on. I was pleased to discover that I hadn’t forgotten how.

Then we had an extended spate of Weather, with wind and rain that turned the riding arena into a quagmire and shut off the riding conclusively. Frustrating, like the December work-and-business hiatus, but what can you do?

Yesterday I was told in no uncertain terms that I would get back to work. Stallion has been off his curly little head with mares in out-of-season season–cold weather or not, they’re all acting as if it’s spring. He’s sick of it. He wants to get his other brain cell up and running.

And, at the same time, he doesn’t.

He’s as ambivalent as I am. Yesterday the ladies distracted him rather hopelessly, so I left them to it. Today we both agreed: vacation’s over.

It wasn’t a long session or a complicated one. I didn’t ride him–it’s been long enough that we both need to ease up to it. (Lesson long since learned: this is not a horse I can jump aboard without a full course of proper introductions.) So longeline it was, with a nice grooming beforehand. And then a little reminder for both of us of what this work thing is.

He was perfect. He studies while he’s on break, and he had a point to make as well. That he’s hardwired and this is very much what he’s for.

I needed that reminder. And also the one that comes with years of working together, of having been with this horse since he was born, having been the first person on his back and having established years ago that I’ll be the last. The language we’ve developed together, the signals both verbal and otherwise, the bond that’s been there since he was a newborn foal, still wet and shivering while the winter storm rolled in.

It’s its own kind of sacred space. I’ve been out of it for so long, pulled away by stresses so numerous at times that I didn’t know where I was going to find that extra bit of me to deal with them. But they passed on by, and I’m still here. And so, he reminded me, is he.

I needed that. Same as I needed the patient tolerance of Evil Gelding on New Year’s. The mares are waiting, too, they tell me. PATIENTLY. If I’ll just GET THE MESSAGE.

It’s not so bad, living in the daylight. Going through the round of the year. Finding the rhythm we lost, and making it regular again. Normal. The way the world should be.

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About Judith Tarr

Judith Tarr is a writer, a freelance editor and writing mentor, and a lifelong horse person. She lives near Tucson, Arizona, where she raises and trains Lipizzan horses. Her new book, Forgotten Suns, is out now from Book View Cafe. Yes, there are horses in it.
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7 Responses to Back on Our Heads

  1. Sheila Gilluly says:

    This is wonderful, Judy. Thanks for a true thing beautifully spoken.

  2. Good to see you back. And so the herd is planning the year, are they?

  3. Lovely phrase, “this is what I’m made for.” Fanny to desk chair, babe!

  4. Thank you. I needed that. Normal is good. Routine helps get things done. I can cope with normal.

  5. Getting into the January routine is definitely good. Though for us normal means at least one trip to Portland a month…700 miles round trip. Still figuring out how to make the writing work for that time, sigh.

  6. Paulette says:

    Wonderful! I rode on New Year’s for the same reason. And then, yes, weather interruptions and the tree needed to finally come down. But now it’s mid-January and the year stretches before me. I have plans and hopes that go beyond that. Hawk is finally sound. The baby is under saddle. My heart beats to hoofbeats.
    I love that you are a horse person and write so truly about them and the horsey life. So many thanks, Judy!

  7. Foxessa says:

    Yes, to all this. Complicated for professional musicians with us in Cuba of Not Playing. Not the same as not practicing, for they all did every morning — arising at sunrise, even the one who had stayed up way late and drunk rum all night (they were very young even though such great players), since its essential to keep the embouchure healthy and functioning. So when they were invited onstage to play with the Cuban Stars, they just exploded. It was great for us in the audience too.

    So in that sense not at all like what would have happened if you had gotten on board without the longline, the grooming, etc.

    I’m still trying to get back to whatever normal life is, after four straight months of touring and holidays and Cuba.