When I was five, I wanted a tree swing; also a pony.I would fantasize about it, the pony I mean. I got the tree swing. I sat on it while daydreaming about the pony. Her name would be Cinnamon, as her coat was that same red/orangey-brown color as the spice and she’d have a black mane and tail. My feet’d be muddy and walking her around through tallish grasses.
Gnats and butterflies and dust would dot the air, flecks of gold cresting and dipping in summery sunlight.
Even I, in my imagined yet still filthy gingham, would look lovely and hardy in the country light with Cinnamon in a stately follow.
Straddling Cinnamon, I was happy.Behind my closed eyes, I’d rest my face against her neck and tangle my stubby fingers in her mane. I was hypnotized by the heavy, hollow thud of her hoof-falls as we meandered through the countryside.We communicated in our secret way; she knew me by scent; my breathing, the rise and fall and squeakiness of my voice soothed her spirit. And she’d buck anyone else who attempted to ride, brush or feed her.
She would be mine and only mine.This was the best part because in my life without a horse, there was nothing mine.
I don’t know where this desire for a horse came from. We lived in the city. There were no tall grass fields or creeks or beautiful summer days hazy with shining little bugs that looked like fairies in the setting sunlight. No stands of trees aged with gnarled branches. “Where would we keep a horse?” asked Mother.I said in the garage, desperate. “That would be cruel,” she said. Then her eyes glazed over with a dreamy shine. “Horses need to be in a field, they need to run and graze and have sun on their backs…”
I put a horse on my Christmas lists and asked for one each birthday for the next six years.
“Where did she get such an idea?” My father asked Mother once. He was upset that I had been giving them the silent treatment for three straight days after my seventh birthday.
“All little girls want a horse,” she said.
He chuckled at that. “And why is that?” he asked.
My mother got red in the cheeks and I saw a dark, quick flicker in her eyes- so quick I doubted it the moment I saw it. It happened sometimes, mostly when she was talking to Father about us girls. “They just do,” she said.
I think she was right about that. My daughters have been pleading with their dad and me to get a horse. “Maybe someday,” I say. It is possible since we live in the country. We take walks on streets along the horse ranches nearby and I think, We can get a horse and keep it at a stables. I ask them what they think of the name Cinnamon for a horse.
“I like it,” says the older one.
“Aw, I like Fred,” says the younger.
“Maybe we should get two,” the older says.”Then I can name mine Roses”
“How about three?” say I. “Cinnamon, Roses and Fred.” We like this idea and discuss what our horses would look like- the color of their manes and coats, whether we’d braid their tails with ribbon.
The books I’ve read in which girls had horses, there is no boy-craziness. The girl with a horse does not need anybody. She is independent and free, strong like the legs of her steed. And though beautiful and ethereal, horses do seem somewhat phallic; look at the neck, look at the long face broad at the top; look at how they must be straddled and ridden. A girl conquers the phallus, astride her steed. It can take her to her life; take her away from her life. She is control of her destination and the route there. She is not a princess but a queen. She is not a queen but an outlaw. She is not an outlaw but an explorer, a knight, a cowboy. All of these things and natural and wild.
copyright cA Hughes