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Ginger, A Dream Come True
Ginger and I
Moon of the Morning
Ginger was the answer to a life-long dream of a horse of my own and when I was fifteen, my father bought her for me. Ginger was an abused animal since the mare had been mistreated by nearly everyone who had ever owned her. She was impossible to ride and she distrusted everyone, most of all men. When I first saw her, I could not even tell that she was really a beautiful horse since she was covered with mud, her mane and tail tangled messes, and her hooves badly chipped and untended. It took hours of bathing and currying to reveal the glossy chestnut coat beneath all that grime. I had to cut a good bit of the length of her tail hair off since a rusted piece of barb-wire was tangled in it. Every time she would flick her tail to swat flies, she would cut herself. Dad had the farrier come out and after he shaped her hooves and shod her, he told me that she was flat-footed and if I didn't keep shoes on her, she would go lame. She had thrush ( a disease of the frogs or soft area of a horse's hoof) so badly that I could not ride her until almost a month after we bought her. Yet in the end, I found that I had a gorgeous little mare with that deep red color and a wide blaze on her face and one high stocking on her right hind leg. Yet, there was still the wild rolling eyes and the obvious air of fear about her.
Months later, I finally won her trust and eventually, her love through gentle treatment and endless patience.
For three years, we were constant companions. As soon as I would get out of school and all weekend, I would spend every free moment with her. She was a hard horse to ride since she had thousands of tricks she used to unseat a rider but once I proved that I was more stubborn than she was and she could throw me but I would get right back up and get on her again, she gave me respect and we developed a partnership. Being an ugly and overweight girl, I found that I had a grace and agility when I rode Gin that I did not possess on the ground. Every one who saw us move together said it was as if we were one and the living symbol of poetry in motion. When I should have had a social life with kids my own age and started to date, I had Ginger and wanted nothing else. She was my best friend, my passion and the ruler of my young heart. She was my whole world.
When she died right after I graduated from high school and several years went by before I had another horse but there were more to follow but that is another story.
Below is a description of how it felt to ride Ginger.
Moon of the Morning
I rise in darkness, the house silent in shadows and slumber. A sleeps in the room next to mine, her young mind filled with dreams of the freedom of the weekend. In her bedroom down the dark hall, Mom turns restlessly in her sleep, already missing my father who has long since left for his workday. I dress quietly in the moonlight splattered blackness, careful not to disturb the resting ones. As I creep carefully in socked feet over the trailer's slick floors, I hear the familiar click-click of Trixy's toenails as she follows me towards the kitchen. Without seeing her, I know her tail is wagging excitedly since she knows an adventure is about.
We ease out the metal front door and I shut it ever so carefully behind me. 1-2-3 down the steps of the wooden front porch, and we are clear of the house and into a world coming alive. I am almost through the yard before I notice the full moon riding low in the horizon. Her subdued light bathes the front yard in wondrous illumination, wrapping each rose and azalea bush in a diaphanous gown. The white stones that line the footpath are glowing in the moonlight. I have to stop and gaze upward in awed admiration. The little heavenly body will give me enough light for my early morning ride.
Trixy and I walk briskly down the footpath, invigorated by the autumn chill in the air. The cool wind that blows off the marsh, brings with it scents of rich black earth and water nourished flowers floating in the low water since the morning tide has come and gone.
As I draw closer to the barn, Ginger sticks her head out of her stall and whinnies in greeting. The moonlight reflects her red face with its startlingly white blaze. I can feel a sense of eagerness in her as well. I wonder if it is anticipation of the early morning run or the two sweet carrots that she knows I always carry in my back pocket. I worry that her happy greeting will awaken my lightly-sleeping mother and our fun will be spoiled. The mare then waffles through her nostrils, a soft blowing sound familiar and affectionate. She will not disturb Mother.
I take her out of the stall to curry her and bridle her. She munches happily on the carrots as the stiff-bristled brush runs through her silky coat loosening dirt and relieving the itching in places she can't reach. The grooming done and the treat enjoyed, I slip the bridle on her and lead her out of the paddock. Trixy and Gin wait patiently as I close the gate back. I lead the mare to a nearby fallen dead tree as she is too tall and I am too awkward to leap upon her bare back from the ground. But once up, the lack of grace disappears and I am astride and confident of my ability to blend with my horse.
A short clip taken at a gently rocking canter, the three of us reach the highway. This is the most dangerous part and I take great care that nothing is coming as we cross the two lane back road. There is nothing as it is an hour from sunrise and the declining moon still gives us sufficient light to see we are safe. Gin's metal shod hooves make a clip clop sound on the concrete until we reach the soft dirt of Old Mission Road, just a short strip of dust added as an afterthought to connect the highway and the little Baptist mission church were everyone in the area attends.
Once across and around a gentle bend in the road, an amazing quarter mile section of road lays in front of us. Swathed in the moonlight, it stretches out and invites us to disturb it. The mare dances in excitement and eagerness.
I crouch low on her shoulder and wrap my thighs tightly around her smooth barrel. I blend my body to form the line on her neck and back. With a softly uttered clucking sound, I give the horse her head and we are away.
She runs with her head straight out, her flaring nostrils sucking in the air as her powerful legs drive into the ground like flesh and muscle pistons. Her long chestnut mane whips against my face, beating a wild tempo to the song of the rocketing wind. I can hear her pounding hooves as they leave quick tattoos in the impressionable earth. My whole body is alive and singing like a violin to the wondrous rythmn of the dance. I am one with the free wind. It is a rush unlike any other.
Too soon, the flying run is over and I slowly ease the mare to a halt. She fights me as it is in her great heart to love the speed and joy of her physical self. Yet in love, she yields and we stop. Trixy who has been a blond bullet collapses in the dirt near the fidgety mare. Her eight years are hard on her but the dog is not one to be left behind. In silence and moonlight, we celebrate being alive.