I step into the round corral to work with a young, dark chestnut colt. His withers shiver with anticipation and he whinnies for connection to the known. Today we start a journey together. I walk to the center of the space we share and stand with quiet reverence, watching his breathing, the tension in his quivering muscles. I hold a halter behind my back, awaiting an invitation. I could rope and wrestle to get the same result. I choose to build trust instead.
He is curious and craves interaction. He stands along the far side of the corral, broadside. The kinship of the herd he intuitively strives to build encircles me. He first turns his ears, then his gaze, then his rounded chest with two sidesteps of his front feet. His rump presses against the railing behind him. I can see the chocolate markings on his forearms; vertical feathered stripes moving down into his black socks.
His nostrils flair and his chin raises as he attempts to identify the other presence in the corral. He strides forward, his head lowers, and he stops a neck’s length away from me.
His muzzle stretches and I offer him the back of my hand. I reach for his soft, tender nose and run my hand upward, tracing the circular cowlick above his eyes with my fingers. His forehead pushes against my chest; the invitation.
Courting and training a colt mirrors my writing process. Nature provides a bundle of possibility. Gangly, long legs wobble as the gorgeous fresh foal is presented to the world. Natural creativity with language provides a bundle of possibility within my fresh goal of writing. A relationship builds through rearing and the day comes when possibility turns to the acts of learning, growing, building strength and knowledge to transform possibility into a lifetime of work filled with pride and accomplishment.
Start with hours/days/weeks of groundwork. Build a foundation of skills and trust, of connection between the physical and the spirit that resides within. Just when the fundamentals come as second nature I ease into the saddle, tension growing, and set off for my first ride. This process includes falling – flat on my back, breathless with the impact of a failure, bruising to reflect upon for many days to come.
Giving up is not an option, so I push through stalled inspiration and the frustration of long days’ work that amount to little gain. I return to the saddle after each rugged ride, covering miles between sunset and sunrise. But, it eventually comes. The soothing tempo of physical and spiritual alignment, expressing themselves in a primitive cadence – the colt’s movements mirrored in my own – one soul.
Traveling the mountainside, discovering the depths of nature, will be our work together from here on out. The sunrise beams with prospect.