Giddy Up

A bunch of empty--and temporary--stalls.

Her fingers wrapped around the cold metal separating her from her quarry. Her breath was a cloud in front of her tiny nose. She waited. She was soon rewarded.

She heard a hollow clippity-clop of horseshoe on concrete. The percussive rolling four/four  was the back beat to her fantasy. She pushed her face closer to the diamond grid of the fence. The better to see.

A young woman, maybe her in eight or ten years, loosely held the reins of a great steed. The girl at the fence drank in the close black breeches capped by shiny black boots. The boots had a block heel, rounded toe and a seam circling the leather at the top third of the shaft. They were finished with a brass button at the very top. A long braid trailed from the round black helmet and down the back of a velvet coat.

But it was the horse that took her breath. He wasn’t the biggest horse she saw, but he was certainly big. He was an almost white gray with definite white spots on his back haunches. His arched neck was topped by the knobs of tight braids. His dark eyes wereXxx  unfocused. She tried to catch his attention by clicking her tongue. He didn’t respond. Rider and horse walked past to their quarters. 

Her mother was hanging just a few steps behind the girl. She walked ahead and tugged the imaginary line between her and her daughter. It worked and the girl moved a along the sidewalk. She stopped again, in front of a chamber full of four horses. There were two bays, a chestnut and a gray. The gray had the biggest head, but the chestnut was the biggest horse of the four. She tried to get them to see her, but two of the horses were flirting with each other and one had her head in her feed.

For a second, the girl made contact with one of the horses. He looked right into her and the girl felt like he touched the inside of her chest. She caught her breath and looked straight back at him, holding her breath. His  gaze went through and then beyond her.

But for that second, he was in her. She ran up to her mother to tell her how she felt the horse. She put her hand in the one automatically offered. Her mother’s eyes were fixed on the next pod, where she made a connect with a chestnut flipping his head and snorting. 

She crouched next to her daughter and pointed a long finger as he tossed his mane their way. The girl and her mother held his gaze and each other on that cool fall night under the stars and on their way into the arena where they would see the horses and riders compete. 

“Mommy, can I be a rider for Halloween?” The woman smiled and wondered if her old helmet would be too big for her. 

“Sure. You can wear your rain boots…”

“No I can’t. They’re yellow. Riders don’t wear yellow. Can I get new boots?”

Her mother looked down at her own tall boots and thought about budgeting for riding lessons. “We’ll see.”

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