Sunday, August 05, 2007

My New Boyfriends

I have three new loves: one black (13), one white (19), one brown (26). Call me a cradle-robber; call them big, strong and hunky. Call our relationship what it is: dirty. But Darling Husband isn't the least bit jealous. In fact, he and my two (2!) counselors consider it therapeutic, as do I.

Here are Sam, Smoky and Don when I saw them on Friday morning:

The boys live just a few minutes away from me, at Four Mile Historic Park. Sam and Smoky, who are Percherons, team up to give carriage and wagon rides; Don is mostly there to demonstrate just how stubborn a mule can be (though he's also very sweet and patient, and loves being petted). For the past month or so, I've been washing and grooming them once or twice a week.

I was all happy that it rained Thursday night--until I saw the big mud puddles in the boys' corral, and Smoky and Don caked with dirt. It took me two hours in the blazing sun to get them cleaned up. I always save Don till last, as he's way smaller than the other two, but I was so hot and tired by the time I got to him that I skipped the bath and just gave him a good brushing; plus, as I did with the others, daubed his cuts (horses get all kinds of dings) with shocking-pink ointment and sprayed him all over with fly spray.

I love horses and had been missing them terribly. But I was also badly traumatized by my accident and subsequent surgeries (with still more to come, starting in a couple of weeks).

My first big step was just touching a horse again. Oddly enough that happened during BEA, down the street from the Javits Center, where a carriage horse was getting a bath. Neither he nor his groom appreciated my petting him on the nose, but it was a very important experience for me.

Just the idea of riding put me in a panic, but I thought I'd like to groom some calm horses (i,e., not Thoroughbreds, like the one that threw me). There's an outfit about an hour away from me that does "equine-assisted psychotherapy," but I thought, Why should I pay to groom a horse, and a far-away one at that? Plus I already had a nearby therapist I'm happy with.

Then one Sunday, I was walking Jenny along the creek at Four Mile Park when I heard a fife and drum corps. I went up top to investigate and saw a band of Civil War re-enactors (funny...their uniforms were a different color than the ones in Virginia), and beyond them a big white horse galloping away. I'd been taking Jenny to the park for more than a year and had never noticed horses there before. I drove to the other end of the park to investigate, and there I saw two big horses and a little mule in a corral. I walked over to the fence to say hello, and ended up scratching the rump of the biggest, dirtiest one of the three--of course the white one.

My hand came up filthy, whereupon I got the notion that the horses could use some extra grooming. So I volunteered for the job, and now they are (temporarily) cleaner and I have the darkest tan and most freckles in decades. No way I could have gone riding last week if I hadn't been tending Smoky, Sam and Don. Grooming is good physical therapy for my right arm too. However, it's still too weak and sore to reach up and brush, so I mostly use my left hand for that.

Here's Smoky before and after his bath; he likes to "crib" (chew on the rail & suck air):

Sam, all clean & shiny; Don making sure I'd have enough work:


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Handsome fellows, all three!

billie said...

Bella, it's so great to read that you're finding ways to get back in "touch" with horses. :)

What a great idea to groom those handsome guys!

I've been doing very limited equine-assisted psychotherapy with a few hand-picked clients over the past year and a half, and it's been incredible. If you've never read Linda Kohanov's book Tao of Equus, you might enjoy it. She has a second book as well, which I haven't read yet but mean to.

Trenting said...

Hilarious! I almost died laughing when I scrolled down, so is it true what they say about being hung like a boyfriend?

Bella Stander said...

Yes indeedy. However you'll note that I don't refer to my boyfriends as "studly"; that portion of their equipment has been excised.

Chumplet said...

I'm sorry to hear that you still haven't recovered from your accident. I first heard about it from Miss Snark, and that was ages ago.

I haven't ridden in many years, except for a three-hour stint in B.C. Not by choice, but I simply can't afford it and don't have access to generous friends who will think to offer me a chance to ride.

Horses have been my passion since I was four years old -- maybe from a former life. To make up for not owning one, I paint and draw other peoples' horses.

I hope you recover soon, and find the courage to face a saddle again. I've hit the ground hard a few times, but not a steel fence!

Gorgeous creatures -- I didn't know Percherons could be white.