Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Horse and I

I was never "a horse girl", as they were, quite unflatteringly referred to, back in elementary school. Everyone knows the type: girls who spent all their free time at the stables, grooming and sweeping and shoveling manure, virtually indentured slaves to the stable owners. These girls didn't just ride horses, they talked horses, read horses, and were (in hindsight) a bit disturbingly infatuated with the beasts. I was a geeky girl, with allergies and an aversion to exercise, but still, there was something mythical and alluring about horses.

Aside from truly mythical variations of horse, such as unicorns, Pegasus, and perhaps, the most Freudian variety, the centaurs, the actual flesh and blood horses themselves manage to inspire great awe and art. Who could, for instance, forget Sylvia Plath's poem Ariel, in which she references perhaps the most famous female horse lover in history (except maybe for those nasty rumors about Catherine the Great), Lady Godiva? An early 11th century figure, the myth of Lady Godiva states that she rode naked, save for her lustrous hair, trough the streets of Coventry in protest of her husband's unfair taxation of the town's inhabitants. Wether the tale is true, or not, makes no difference; it gave birth to a myth that tied the independence, and fierceness of a woman's spirit, to riding and thus controlling such a powerful beast. It was in fact this mythology, that Plath herself was living out in those bitter weeks she wrote the poem, her marriage in shambles, and her life upturned.

I rode my first horse, many years after elementary school and the horse girls, an old white mare, bare back, with only a silk scarf around her neck for me to cling onto. This, apparently, is how hippies ride horses. As soon as we left the pasture, the horses, giddy with freedom, began running faster and faster, the other riders whooping with the joy of adventure and adrenalin, and me, pressing myself against the mare for dear life. The trees whirled past, the mare's hair got into my eyes. Galloping trough the forest and the fields, somewhere beneath my terror, I experienced the odd sensation of being part of something bigger than myself, usually saved for brief religious enlightenment and near death experiences (which is actually a pretty accurate way to describe my horsing adventure). It only dawned on me later, that for a little while I'd tapped into some wild, atavistic corner of myself, that I'd felt as though I was the one running uncontrollably trough the trees.

These things came to mind when I purchased myself this lil' good luck charm:

Image from Reyney's Etsy

There's a marvelous story called Horse Camp by Ursula K. Le Guin that articulates 'the horse girl'-phenomenon perfectly (and with a delightful twist). It is included in this collection

Listening to: Bat For Lashes


  1. The image of the girl on the horse is breathtakingly beautiful and fits so perfectly with what you have written, just lovely... and I totally adore the charm!

  2. what an amazing shot an adorable pendant. :-)

  3. oh man, i love everything about this post! i was a horse-lover when i was little too, but never to the point of stable work (i lived in the city, so i loved horses as much as i could from afar), and i almost died on a horse too once, when i was 11, when it just took off and i was holding on to the saddle, my body flailing along the side of the horse for what seemed like miles and miles until it eventually stopped and dropped me to the ground.

    but that sensation of riding a horse -- there's nothing like it, you're right. very otherwordly. i'll have to check out that le guin story now, i love her.