If only I had a saddle. And boots. Barn and pasture. I would have bought the red dun gelding. The way he quivered after leaving the auction room, the clench in his jaw bone, the steam and how he didn’t whinny. Resplendent resiliency.

The scent of a thousand horses, acres of neighs and ranch hands calling out, the closing clang of gates. Cowboys galloping between paddocks and corrals, a distant speaker broadcasting faint remarks regarding paraded horseflesh. Bred for mountain climbing, this little filly has staying power.

Could have been me at one time. Sometimes I’m no longer sure.

Through the foregrounds of the auction house. Tooled leathers and silver spurs, saddles custom-fitted. Climb the steep and narrow stairs to the upper level of the theater-seating auction room crowded with cowboy hats and the business-trill of the auctioneer’s steady chant.

Hold still.

The double-gated, dirt-floored tiny arena is center stage for one horse every two minutes. Thirty horses every hour. Two days in a row.

A grey appaloosa mare spooked by waving flags explodes into the arena. Smell the rising fear. Immediately I want to leave, bolt back down the steep stairs, but no one moves ’til the bid is set. I snap one shot to remember this. Calm the calm calm down, pony. But the way I pray might not reach her before she’s chased outside. So many times my zen-prayers fall short—the ground, lately, beyond my reach.



About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

11 responses to “1650

  1. How can we tell, without tools of augury, the difference between acceptance and settling? Our bowls held toward the heavens – is this enough? So many lessons, and all of them remind of patience, trust, the elusive knowing of our own hearts. The deepening stillness. (I ramble.) Sorrows can make distances seem greater than they are. xo

    • redmitten

      marylinn- “our bowls held toward the heavens–is this enough?” sends me to my knees. and so wise what you wrote about sorrows. it’s good to step away and get a clean perspective in order to realize this more clearly. so lovely to hear from you.


  2. This is beautiful and your love of this animal shows through the words.

    • redmitten

      when i was younger, it seemed without a doubt my life would involve saddles and boots. but then it didn’t. when something is out of sort- i find time spent near horses replenishing. thank you! good to hear from you.

  3. I have been here before. In college for a documentary photo essay I worked on all semester – how people still use horses. The whole place was strange to me – those terrified horses rushed in and out. Strange to see this place again. I remember it well.

    • redmitten

      i would love to hear more on this from you (and see more). right now i am so drawn to the programs which use horses with people dealing with special needs. the communication that passes between man and animal sends me to my knees.

      • There are so many places in Montana that I found. This was 6 years ago, but I found so many friendly, amazing people who still utilized horses in daily life. There was a therapeutic horse massage teacher in Hamilton (area), a man who used draft horses for logging his land, farriers, riders, wild mustangs being used to rehab prisoners in Oklahama – ill have to look again at my project and see what there is and if u can show you the images somehow! Some digging involved!

      • redmitten

        oh i hope you dig and share! the horse culture here abounds and i’d really like to read and see what you explored. thanks!

  4. Rose Hunter

    …and the black cowboy hats! Way!

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