Nothing approaches a field like me. Hard gallop, hard chest – hooves and mane and flicking tail. My love: I apprehend each flower, each winged body, saturated in a light that burnishes. I would make a burnishing of you, by which I mean a field in flower, by which i mean, a breaching – my hands making an arrow of themselves, rooting the loosened dirt. I would make for you the barest of sounds, wing against wing, there, at the point of articulation. Love, I pound the earth for you. I pound the earth. ~Donika Kelly (2017) “Love Poem: The Centaur” from Bestiary
When Haflingers gallop in the field, it sounds like thunder as their hooves pound the earth. It can be a particularly ominous sound, especially in the middle of the night when the pounding hooves are going past our bedroom window which means only one thing: their field gate or the barn door has been breached. Haflingers are also Houdinis.
Their hooves may hug the ground, treading clover blossoms and blades of grass but I can see invisible wings as I watch them run. Their manes and tails float free even when the rest of their bodies are entirely earth-bound.
I know most of the time I move ponderously over the earth as well leaving my footprints behind. Some days I feel literally tethered to the ground, with no lightness of being whatsoever.
But once I breach the gate, I grow wings. The ground cannot hold me any longer and it rises to meet me as I fly.
It did seem odd this morning during my barn chores that our six year old Haflinger gelding stood facing the back wall as I opened his stall door to give him his hay. For a moment I wondered if there was a problem with his appetite as he usually would dive right into his hay as soon as I threw it to him. A closer look told me the problem was with his hind end, not his front end: his heavy white tail was wrapped snugly around a J hook hanging on the stall wall meant to hold his water bucket. Instead now it held him — and wasn’t letting go. He had apparently been itching his butt back and forth, round and round on the handy hook and managed to wrap his tail into such tight knots on the hook that he was literally tethered to the wall. He was very calm about the whole thing only maybe just a little embarrassed.
He turned his head to look at me, pitiful. How long he’d been standing there like that through the night was anyone’s guess. I bet he no longer was itchy.
I started to work at untying the tail knots to free him and found them wound so tight that loosening them required significant cooperation from my 1200 pound buddy. Unfortunately, any time I managed to almost unloop a knot over the hook end, he would pull forward, snugging it even tighter. Out of desperation I pulled out the scissors I keep in my barnjacket pocket. I cut one knot hoping that would be sufficient. Then I cut through another knot. Still not enough. I cut a third big knot and thank God Almighty, he was free at last. He sauntered over to his hay now with a chunk of his tail in my hand and a big gap in what was still left hanging on him. It may take a year to grow that missing hair back out. But hey, it is only hair and at least someone kind and caring came along with a set of shears to release him painlessly from his captivity. We aren’t all so lucky.
I know what it is like to get tangled up in things I should probably give wide berth. I have a tendency, like my young horse, to butt in where I best not be and then become so bound I can’t get loose again. It can take forever to free myself, sometimes painfully leaving parts of my hide behind.
So when I inevitably get tied up in knots again, I hope someone will come along to save me. Better yet, I hope someone might warn me away from the things that hook me before I foolishly back right into them. I’ve got to loosen up and quit pulling the knots tighter.
It’s best to always have a detangler handy. You never know when you might need one.