April 11, 2016 seeing_admin

Eagle’s Rescue

thumbnail_photoLeaning into Izzy, I sobbed. We were standing at the tailgate of the horse trailer, Eagle was on board, and the crew was ready to leave.

“I tried Izzy. I tried.” Hearing my muffled words spoken in between sobs, Izzy broke into tears with me.

“I know you did,” she said simply and we clung to each other for a long moment.

Izzy was the owner of the horse rescue ranch where I got two horses last summer. Now it was spring, and I asked her to pick up my Thoroughbred and take him back to the rescue ranch. Last week I’d driven out to her place to explain why I wanted her to come and pick him up.

I struggled saying “my” Thoroughbred as I spoke to her.

How could I say “my” horse when I asked her to take him back?

“Izzy, he’s a hot Thoroughbred who isn’t getting the time he deserves from me in the saddle. When I take him on the desert he spooks at every little thing. He dominates, not only Buddy, but he dominates my thoughts whether I’m riding him or not. A few months ago, I realized how much attention I was giving him and not Buddy.”

“And,” I paused with a tickle in my throat although my eyes were dry, “I don’t want to get hurt, not at my age.”

Even with no tears, I struggled saying “my age”.

Eight months ago, I’d ridden this “hot” Thoroughbred on a two-hour ride in the desert along with five other riders on an evening with a full moon that was to die for. There’s nothing quite as lovely as being on horseback with a round milk moon in a jet sky. The fragrant summer desert surrounded us, shadows of running rabbits were in peripheral view, the horses hooves sank into golden granite sand making a lovely squish, squish sound, and “lightning” moths swarmed on a nearby slope, miniature, magical lanterns glowing in the night air. (“Ah, so lightning moths are real,” whispered Izzy. “I’ve never seen them.”)

Now that memory was a world away and sixty years of age felt too old to handle Eagle.

As I let Izzy go from my clinging hug, the young kid who would now sponsor Eagle at the ranch came up from behind and handed Eagle’s halter to me, having put his own on the horse. He appeared to be a decent enough kid; Izzy had told me about him as I sat around her kitchen table last week.

“He’s run another Thoroughbred ragged here. He loves to run his horse. After a few months, when the girls got on the horse to ride, they weren’t able to push the horse beyond a walk.” She said this as though it was okay with her.

The information lodged somewhere in my memory though at the time I couldn’t respond. I was too upset just asking her to pick up my horse.

How could I say “my” horse when I asked her to take him back?

When the horse trailer arrived early Sunday-morning, the kid, taller than I was, asked first thing, “Does he run fast?” There was a blazing eagerness in his voice and fire in his eyes when Eagle walked into view from around the corner of the stall. This tall lanky kid was going to swallow Eagle whole like a wolf ravishing its first spring prey after a long and lean winter.

Eagle was gorgeous: finely sculpted head, rich coffee color with black legs, 16 hands, silky soft coat, and an intelligent look even in the one white eye that reputation said was a sign that the horse was loco.

“Yeah, he can run,” I replied in a monotone, but I wasn’t saying it from experience. Seven years previous, Eagle had been on a racetrack as a 2 year old. Fact was, I’d never run Eagle, but what Izzy said last week finally registered.

Oh, Jesus! This brash kid was going to run my horse like the badass, crazy rider he prided himself on being!

How could I say “my” horse when I asked her to take him back?

I took the halter from the kid and turned away. Behind me, I could hear Izzy start the ignition and pull the horse trailer out of the driveway. I knew the trailer window was open and Eagle’s head was leaning out but I didn’t turn to look at him. Ahead of me, I saw Buddy spinning around the stall, frantically whinnying for Eagle.

That evening, I went to the Beatnik Lounge to listen to three local singer/songwriters on guitar and ukulele. I needed a break, weary from crying all day. I hoped the music would sooth my sadness. Taking in what a neighbor had said, I pondered her words: “As much as the horse needs to be right for you, you need to be right for the horse. Maybe that kid is going to be exactly what Eagle needs.”

From her perspective, Eagle was prime to run like the wind across the desert without any restraints whatsoever, a fearless rider on his back.

Suddenly, the singer with guitar in hand, harmonica around his neck, and forest green Derby on his head, spoke the song’s lyrics for emphasis, “Let the Eagle go.” The second time he spoke the phrase in a slow, measured way, I heard the words loud and clear as though through a megaphone, “Let the Eagle go.”

And, finally, I did.