This morning I woke up and looked out my bedroom window, like I do every morning, to find part of Tarot’s fence down. He had managed to take down part of the bottom line completely and to push the second line out of place. I scanned quickly for him but I knew he was gone. The fresh spring grass is just starting to come up and last year he moved a round pen about 4 feet just with the continuous pressure of his neck as he reached for one blade of grass and then another. Kind of like the heaviest grazing muzzle on earth.
Through the window I couldn’t see him anywhere on the property. He’s an easy horse to see , being white, against a currently brown and green-ish landscape. My heart was pounding as I pictured him galloping over roads in our town and large men trying to capture him with ropes, then shouting at me, “Is that your horse, girl? You better catch him!” It sounds dramatic, but I know how wild humans act around loose animals. Like all the world has lost it’s order.
I pulled on my boots, my treat pouch and walked outside as fast as I could without running. All three of our other horses were looking off with raised heads into a farmer’s field behind our barn, so I knew if Tarot wasn’t still there, he had gone that way. I grabbed a halter and lead and headed out. Our property is lined with tall pine trees that obscure most of the view of neighboring land and break the wind in winter, so I didn’t know what I would find. When I came through the trees, Tarot was about 400 feet away, presumably munching on dead wheat. I walked toward him in a roundabout way and halfway to him he decided to close the distance for me. He started walking toward me, so I turned and started heading back toward the barn too. I’ll admit, I was nervous if I tried to “catch” him, he would think better of it and take off. I have worked a lot on haltering, but not loose in endless farmland. We walked back through the treeline to our farm. I clicked him and he stopped for his treat, calmly, just like we were training in his paddock. I asked him to target and he targeted, but too gently, which usually means his environment is overfacing him a bit. He stayed for his treat, then walked about 15 feet away to nicker to our mares who were at the fence.
I thought about going to get a feed tub of oats or strategy, but I decided to use our skills. I walked over to him and presented his halter. He put his nose in immediately and calmly and kept his head low even while I buckled the crown. For some people, haltering a horse who you have actively taught to self-halter would mean nothing more than the animal doing what it’s learned. Good training is one way to describe what happened. But good training gives way to deeper meaning. It’s the reason I pursue any training, of any species. For me, Tarot putting his nose in his halter, is the glimmering edge of salvation. [Salvation(n) : the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction.] My soul is protected from harm, risk, loss and destruction when a wild horse chooses his halter, his tether to to me, over open fields and two flirting mares. When he can say: I trust you, I choose you , then I am saved. From what? From ignorance. From entitlement. From failure to imagine his reality. From the loneliness of being isolated in my own species.
My horse put his nose in a halter, loose, on the edge of open fields. He was born wild. There is no money I could make today that could rival, from him, his yes.