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The Language of Equus

By Emilyrose Reeder

The simple white tee, brown leather belt, and straight blue jeans hugged my slender frame. I squinted at the turquoise blue before me, the sun at that quintessential hour of time for a late afternoon peach-pineapple tart with vanilla ice cream. The palm trees played a melodious salty symphony, the horses, paints, sorrels, dapples grazed across the rolling pastures. The air tasted like warm nectar. I drank it all in and smiled. Not long ago I discovered one of my passions in life, one that sweeps you off your feet like the end of good romance novels do.

The locals called him the horse whisperer. His etched, tanned face shaded partly by his cowboy hat looked weathered and worn. Years of experience glimmered through his eyes, a radiant, soft smile he wore. “Emilyrose, in the language of equus, it is the movement of the mind and body that forms the trust between that of a young girl and her horse.”

The fluidity of movement this tall, dark bay colt possessed, spelled the essence of elegance. Reaching the gate, we were greeted with a heartfelt nicker rumbling from a deep, bubbling wellspring within. In the language of equus, this translates as the invitation of compassion and friendship. His delicate brown eyes suggested an ancient intelligence; his body told the story of enduring bravery, selfless trust, breathless grace - the history of his race - the magnificent horse! His fluted nostrils drew a strong, penetrating breath; testing the wind’s course of fleeting flight as well as the rusty weather vain atop the stable. He, like his ancestors, sensed change with the keenest of instinct.

“So much it is that the horse can teach,” said the horse whisperer, “to man he teaches one of the deepest values – trust.” The feel of the supple cotton rope in my hand, the movement of the tall, dark bay colt at my command, I led. To the circular arena and the sand, I released him – free! With the toss of his elegant head he flew, gallantly galloping, the fleeting step on the sand like the wild rhythm of rolling and crashing waves. In driving him away, the predator was I, his flowing mane and tail danced with every turn of his head, his withers, his legs. “What power!” I murmured.

And ever so did the fluidity become fixed on that of the perpetrator, did the subtle, refined messages become clear. Like the piano tuner who listens by ear to the keys of the baby grand, I tuned in to the tall, dark bay colt’s circling cadence. The flitting and flickering of his ears ceased, to lock solely on my heart, the center where I stood. The drop of his elegant neck almost brushing the ground, he flew still, but now solely to the movement of mine own. The clearest message I sent, I stepped in front of his path, he spun and circled the other way, never missing a beat of that zealous, feverous gallop. Slowly I dropped my shoulders square from his withers to perpendicular, averting my predator’s gaze. I spoke, you see, the language of equus. Like a dance, a ballet, he pranced the piaffe and finished with the rushing release of breath from the lungs, the bow. Out of the corner of my eyes, I caught the curious stare of his.

I waited with patient earnest. The plod of hooves in the sand, coming slowly, I felt the slightest nudge on my back, playful, inquisitive. We had achieved a joining, a union of horse and human. And what happened next: a kiss from God through that of an earth angel. His head came over my right shoulder, and across my chest, wrapping me in an equine embrace. How sweet it must have been to see, this little brown-eyed girl and her horse, both lost in love and light, a reverie of magic and trust - the purest of friendship! I turned and smiled, reaching my hands up around his neck, my fingers tangled in his unruly mane. I breathed in his smell - earth, salt, and sweet molasses.

I took a step back, and walked to his side, my hands tracing his withers. I locked my fingers in his mane and swung my body up. I tapped him with my heels and he collected underneath me. My will was his. The exhilarating freedom of riding atop my tall, dark bay colt tasted sweeter than the sweetest of dreams. We galloped away, a transformative union from two to one.