The other day Zack brought two-year old Blossom into the riding arena. I wasn’t sure what he had in mind, because she wasn’t wearing her usual halter and lead. In fact, she didn’t have anything on at all!
He petted her for a few minutes, and I could see him chatting, but I don’t know what he said. Then he took a few steps away, looked back, patted his leg and, with sweet singsong, called, “Blossom!”. She promptly closed the distance and stuck her nose out to his patter, collecting some for her own neck.
Zack walked off again, but this time he kept walking. He walked between tall thin white upright poles. He circled around stumpy white hollow cones. He walked all the way to the brown wooden rails and back to the cones again, occasionally looking over his shoulder and saying something in a normal talking voice.
He appeared to expect just what was happening. I can only imagine what senses told him all was well as he strolled around. Perhaps he felt warm wet air puffed onto his lower back. Or, maybe he listened for the muffled “clip, clop” in the soft sandy dirt behind him. There might even have been the occasional swish of a tail or the soft rushing “Eeeee, aaaaah” sound of air passing through soft nostrils.
It could have been all of these things, or something completely different. Maybe something like the presence of a big thick shadow perpetually looking like it would overwhelm his smaller narrow one.
Intrigued beyond patience, I finally asked him, “What, exactly, are you doing?”.
Instead of answering, he said, “Watch this!”. Like a traffic cop at an intersection, he put his palm out for her to dock against. Once her hooves had come to rest, he began backing away from her, but he kept his hand up, and repeatedly said,”Stay”, until he was several yards away. Then, leaning towards her as if to a puppy, he said, “Come here!”, and wiggled his fingers, as if drawing her along an unseen thread.
I can’t say that Blossom kept her feet planted as he walked away, but when he called to her, she let her brakes off and hustled over to him with in great swinging strides.
Grinning at me, he finally answered, “I’m training Blossom”. Then he pulled an apple out of his pocket and their shadows merged.