Hunting in dreams

Maybe it's because I believe, deep down, that no one worth possessing can ever be quite possessed.Maybe it's because I believe, deep down, that no one worth possessing can ever be quite possessed.

Story originally posted by Staff

Maybe it’s because I believe, deep down, that no one worth possessing can ever be quite possessed.

Some women have a weakness for cowboys. Some always fall in love with dark, dangerous men. I, on the other hand, have always had a soft spot for misunderstood, high-spirited chestnut horses.

Just last night the ghost of Jimmy charged through my dreams once again. I saw him as he was 20 years ago when first we met. I, a skinny, 14-year-old horse-crazy kid and he a beautiful, blood-red chestnut quarter horse that no one wanted because of his headstrong reputation.

It didn’t bother me that he arched his neck like an Arabian and worked himself into an all-over body foam during every ride, whether it was a lazy trail ride or a serious workout. Jimmy gave 150% in all things. He won my heart forever when he threw himself over a four-foot coop that sprung up on a mock hunt my horse friends and I staged on a snowy Thanksgiving morning. Jimmy had guts, and he taught me to have them, too.

Jimmy was so smart that when he retired and went to live with my friends in Palm Springs, they reported he was the only horse in the barn with a T-shaped tan. He had found the lone telephone pole in the pasture and spent his summers grazing directly underneath it without moving, to minimize his sun exposure during 100-degree days.

PeeWee was another beloved outcast, a pumpkin-colored Thoroughbred with tiny fox ears and a definite gleam in his eye. He was picked up for a song from a beginning polo player due to his passion for dashing back to the trailer to see what his buddies were doing during the middle of a chukker.

Much like my three-year-old son does today whenever I approach with clothing, PeeWee’s greatest delight in life was playing keep-away. He would pretend to graze nonchalantly, furtively watching me out of the corner of his eye, only to dash off out of reach when I was five feet away. You could almost see him chuckling as he ran circles around me. PeeWee knew how to laugh at himself, and he taught me to laugh at myself, too.

Then there was Stop-and-Go, the ancient strawberry-chestnut school horse who was inseparable from his pinto friend, Dr. Bob. Those two were known as Frick and Frack around the barn: they ate together, lived next door to each other, and trotted obligingly in circles around the arena together while countless 8-year-old riders precariously attempted to learn to post on their concave, hollowed-out backs.

Stop-and-Go was so old that his eyelashes and whiskers eventually turned gray all over, just like my grandpa’s. And when Dr. Bob died and I stood in Stop-and-Go’s stall with my head buried in his neck, attempting to console us both, I swear I saw a tear trickle down from his eye. Stop-and-Go knew the value of friendship, and he taught me how to value it, too.

There have been many horses in and out of my life since then, just as there have been many people who have come and gone, but only a very special few ever leave permanent mark on your heart. But when you’re really lucky, they’ll ride on forever in your memories – and in your dreams.

Lindsey Townsend is a freelance writer living in Lake Dallas, Texas who has ridden English all her life and is wondering whether her middle-aged body could learn to sit a cutting horse.

Lindsey Townsend
Lake Dallas, TX 75065