Someone said to me, “It’s a numbers game. The more horses you have, the more likely you are to encounter the short straw.”
You see, we all draw the short straw at some point. Often, we fail to notice when someone else plucks that SOB, unless we are close with that person. The short stick is the lame horse on show day. The medical bill that needs to be paid instead of going to the clinic. The lesson that got canceled due to the rain when the babysitter was finally available. All the work feels wasted. The excited apprehension sours. A stone that settles in the belly. But the short straw, the fuzzy end of the lollypop, the manure pile. It sucks. And when we are looking at the big pill to swallow, it can be taxing. Intimidating. Unfair. Or, at the very least, undesired. Like a bad hand of poker, you begin to wonder when you should fold. How many bad hands is enough? How much money lost is too much? When do you cut your losses?
However. They call it “horse crazy” for a reason. It isn’t just an irrational urge to feed money to your equid in one form or another only see it make its way out the other end, with way less value. Or the self-imposed torment of returning every week to the trainer who simultaneously makes you feel like the most incompetent and most capable rider at the same lesson. Or that you fall for the newest supplement research, or latest Lemieux color sets. Or that you can name all of Beezie’s mounts ever yet are unable to recall which sportsball team the significant other roots for.
Oh no, it is an ever-fixéd mark. The reason they call us crazy is because they don’t understand. They don’t understand how another creature, without words, could understand us so well instead. How with just a look, my horse can cut through my day, through my pain, see me, and tell me everything, if only just for this moment, is OK. That when I throw my leg over, and she lets me sit on her back, in the most unnatural juxtaposition of a predator sitting on prey, we become one. We are more than partners. We are more than master and student. We are together. On bad days, we are each other’s mirrors, reflecting the same holes and issues, slightly blinded to the source. On the best days, we fill each other’s holes and turn our weaknesses into our strengths. Without words, we dance, play, love.
Horse crazy is known to be genetic, but it isn’t always the case. I’ve never seen a true case that is curable. But I am not sure why anyone would want to. Because, even though the more horses you have, the longer you live with the gift of horse crazy, the more you learn, the more you lose yourself and find yourself. Even through all that, all the short sticks, and heartbreak, and losses. You come back. That is the crazy. Not everything you do or give up, but that you come back, even if you think you never will. You can swear off the ride. You can swear off the muzzle. But it is still in your heart.
When the crazy is in your heart, it is in your head. For some it is all the time, for others it can be shelved temporarily. I even hear of some that have packed it away in the mind’s attic. But, nonetheless, it is always there. It keeps track of the time until you can leave work, how long it will take to drive to the barn with traffic, until you are back with the animal that sates this crazy, keeping it at bay. The horse isn’t the crazy, it’s just you. It’s a fever. What a lovely way to burn.