It is an amazing thing to be able to connect without words, to draw two minds together and blend them into a single entity. It is difficult, time consuming, and laden with work beyond reckoning, but worth every moment, every task, every ounce of energy.
Slow to start, it is a thing of beauty even in the beginning stages. A trust forming, blooming out of soil tilled by the gentle words whispered in a cocked ear. A tender sprout forms, drawn upwards by the alluring quality of curiosity and begins to spread its leaves to the light of friendship.
It is still fragile at this stage, a bond that can be formed or broken by a single word or action. Care is required to make sure that the young relationship continues to grow. If it is broken now then it will be difficult to reform. A shadow of mistrust will stand in the way if the bond is shattered, blocking the path and hindering all attempts at redemption. No, one must tread with caution now.
Now comes the warm touch of inquisitive fingers. They explore the twitching skin, feeling the soft, fine hair that covers all. A strong massive shoulder and arched neck shudder and jump beneath a shifting mane. The touch is not rejected, but not yet received with joy. This is new, unexpected, and yet enticing. Curiosity comes to the fore yet again.
A palm joins the fingertips and the twitching calms, settling down into a mere shiver of anticipation. The touch is pleasant, holding no malice, no intent to mar or spoil.
Again soft words are murmured and a liquid brown eye softens, rolling to look at the source of this new sensation. There is no fear now, yet the bond is hesitant to fully form. Roots have been started, digging down with slow and steady progress. It may take days, it may take years, but the foundation is there.
Eventually a trust is established. Two minds connect and remain as one. Once complete the bond is strong, near impossible to tear apart. A union that binds them in both thought and desire.
Yes, in the beginning it is beautiful, but in the end it is beyond words. Such is the bond between horse and rider.
I can feel the sunlight warming my shoulders as I step up to the small appaloosa mare that is standing before me. I can hear the nervous shuffling of Megan's feet as she waits behind me. I know that she is still new to this and I smile as I realize that it will eventually no longer be that way. She has asked for my help and I freely give it to her. I could not even think of withholding my help, she has given me too much already.
I hold out my hand and a soft velvet muzzle drops lightly into my palm. This mare is quiet and gentle, her personality as sweet as the bits of apple that I hold in my other hand. I had chosen her for this reason. She was a perfect match to Megan's foray into the world of teaching a horse to ride.
I slip an apple piece into reach and the mare lips it up with infinite care. I barely feel her pluck it from my hand.
I gesture Megan forward and carefully place her in front of the mare, pressing the other piece of apple into her hand as I do so. She offers the treat and a grin spreads across her features as she feels the mare nuzzling for more.
I stretch out a hand and place it on the mare's neck, pulling Megan's hand out to set it beside my own. And now Megan knows what she is to do, she remembers what I told her earlier and she carefully does as instructed. She leans forward and begins to blow softly in the direction of the mare's muzzle.
The mare flares her nostrils and stretches her nose out to take in Megan's scent. A soft nicker and a release of breath tells me that a connection has been made.
I take Megan's other hand and slowly guide it up to rest gently on the mare's forehead and we remain that way for an unknown amount of time. Each of us taking the others in, feeling the bonds of friendship forming and strengthening.
I know that the friendship between girl and horse will be strong indeed. It always is when done correctly. For every person there is a horse to match and I believe with all of my heart that Megan's partner is standing before us, resting her head against Megan's palm.
It takes months of work, endless amounts of patience, and carefully crafted skill, but she eventually is able to ride. I had always known that she had been perfectly capable of riding, of jumping up onto the back of a horse and galloping away to the ends of the earth. But I also knew that she wanted so much more than a simple mode of transportation. She wanted a friend, a companion to share the miles with. And so I desired nothing more than to give that to her, to show her the skills and the knowledge that she needed to work side by side with a horse until it was ready to do whatever she asked without question. It was not magic, it was not a big mystery, and it definitely was not force. It was trust, plain and simple. A trust that once formed would be almost impossible to break.
And so now I sit and watch Megan skipping and dodging through the long grass of a field nestled between two hills while her equine companion chases her with delight. I had achieved my goal, and Megan had achieved hers. In the end it had been one and the same. Both of us had simply wanted to form a friendship that would last a lifetime. Now there were three separate bonds, hers, mine, and the mare's, separate and yet the same. All of us had woven our threads of companionship into the tapestry that our world has become, and I smile when I think of how many more threads will be added in the years to come.