Friday, April 22, 2016

Is A Horse Without A Cause Any Different Than One Without A Name?

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Is A Horse Without A Cause Any Different Than One Without A Name?

People sometimes ask me in my travels as a human being why I write? Which is different than squirrels asking me why I like nuts, macadamias mostly, but pistachios as well. 

I often respond with saying what good is having a horse if it’s locked up in a barn all the time. Some stare at me not understanding with that wide eyed, “I think he’s nuts, which in the case of the squirrels is correct, and that answer doesn’t help to clarify the question. 

So I often relate the story of a horse I met once that looked at me in a most unusual way. You know, if you’ve been around horses, they occasionally get that wide-eyed gaze of excitement teetering on the brink of insanity. As if the intelligence trapped within that equine body wanted to whisper something profound, something mad. But dared not, scared to break some unholy law of nature. 

I’d gone on a three-day backpacking trip behind Harrison Lake in BC. The first two days was great just me, greenery and several hundred year old cedar trees. 

But the horse, well, he was different and he had no qualms about telling me. 

“You’d make better time on four legs than two,” he snorted as we met on a high plain in the Stein Valley, on what a native elder told me later, was sacred native land. 

Like Black Beauty, he had a sleek jet-black coat adorned with dozens of scratches. Other than his glib tongue his other outstanding feature, was his rakish mane; with one tousle of hair between his ears that gave him that James Dean look, trouble. It suited him.

I sat around my campfire that night, the horse preferred standing. “You ain’t catching me sleeping with cockroaches and worms crawling all around. Damn two-leggers, strange uncivilized bunch.” 

I wolfed down beans and wild Jack Pine mushrooms. He munched on some fresh grass, different nutrients, same results. After a while I couldn’t tell which one of us smelled worse. I think it was the horse. 

He told me his name, but I couldn’t bray it back in English. I hadn’t, at least up to this point in my life, bumped into too many talking horses, I just called him Horse. 

Giving a smug toss of his mane, he told me how his ancestors, of pure breed stock, came over with the conquistadors.

Of course, you’re probably wondering right about now the same thing, why other horses don’t talk. 

“You two-leggers think you’re the horse’s hooves, using your two front legs for things like wiping your rear ends and holding that thing between your legs you call a stallion’s pride. Bah, I’d say there’s a few nervous female mosquitoes around every time you whip it out.” He snorted almost falling over. “Most of us can talk except the penners.” 

Penners was his expression for horses in captivity.

“Could never figure out your breed. Walk around miserably slow on two hooves and then make slaves out of us to get you around faster. You’re a bewildering lot. Most penners can’t even think for themselves, ain’t got the brains. Slavery, I call it and I’ll have none of it. 

On the other hand the female penners are soft and smell great. There’s something very sexy about a mare with a clean, brushed coat, that brings out the stallion in me.” He brayed kicking his front legs in the air. “Yup, a night or two with old Horse here and they forget which end of the straw is up.”

He’d snorted loudly about some of his adventures. Maybe that’s why he chose to talk to me, that old rebel-at-heart thing. I imagined his parents raising their hoofs and saying don’t go off talking to the humans; it’ll get you into trouble. He didn’t care. 

Being a writer I always carry a tape recorder, but only got a lot of snorting from him on the tape. Perhaps those mushrooms I ate were really magic ones. In the end I bade him farewell. He had good sense, for a horse, but be careful the next time a horse looks you that wide-eyed flicker. He might be sizing you up for a few words. 

As for why I write? Like a wild horse that smells that open hillside in front of him, and tears off across it to feel the wind on its mane. I get the same sense of freedom and naturalness as I touch pencil to paper. It’s what’s bred into my soul and must be released to gallop.

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By Frank Talaber
Writer by soul. Karma the seed. Words born within.
Paper the medium. Pen the muse. Novels the fire.
Twitter: @FrankTalaber