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.
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.