|Shaman, Rascal, Ranger, Black Elk|
I head down to the far end to begin to shovel, Rascal at my right shoulder, his head perfectly vertical at attention, ears upright curved at the tips, like many mustangs. He stops on a dime when I stop. Shaman full of Spanish Brio and Black Elk at 16-3, built like a war horse, jostling with one another to be on my left side. Shaman, small but strong winning this round. As I move to shovel, each horse steps aside and moves quietly without a word or a touch. I make a game out of it, I back up, they back up, I move towards a hip, and a horse circles, I move toward a shoulder and they turn on the forehand.
A few more scoops. Pretty soon I forget about shoveling. I am singing. Different songs, repetitive lines, my energy is shifting. We walk, we waltz, we circle and back up, we cha-cha, all the boys who want do a 'chorus line' with me facing them. I smile and laugh. I sing, I am in bliss. We wander the arena as a herd, matching steps, matching hearts.
Black Elk heads to the stump. Look, I can do this he is saying. The competition too fierce for his quiet nature. Yes, standing and waiting is a great trait. A few treats are shared. They are all up on their stumps. They are stumping it, a waiting game, an attention game, eight eyes all on me. I sing. I invite Shaman to circle the others with me. He gets a few pellets, the ones who wait get a few pellets. I back up. They wait. I call them, one by one they come. Rascal and Shaman first, Black Elk slowly leaving the biggest stump taking his long steps to me, nodding his head, feeling like he's grinning. Ranger quiet but persistent, don't forget about me.
I am singing, they are with me, I am one of the herd, we move together, sideways to the right, sideways to the left, a few steps forward a few steps back, a bite of apple. Black Elk bites Rascal, and now he is at my right side. We move forward in bigger steps, I am by his shoulder, I let out my air, he stops. Rascal pushes Shaman out of his way, he's on my left now, a big boy by each shoulder. Shaman is off looking for escaped pellets. The sun is setting, I am still singing, I am in bliss, I go back to shoveling. Pretty soon we call it a night, I am in bliss....