Long even strokes with a little snap of the wrist at the end. Over and over. Repeated until every inch of the horse has been groomed. It is what has been drilled into my head from the very beginning—from my very early years when my uncle warned me that a poorly groomed horse was an angry horse. I didn’t understand what he meant at the time but I certainly was in no position to argue with him. I was just happy to be given the chance to be near a horse. I wasn’t going to jinx that opportunity with unknowledgeable back-talk. It was a lesson that stayed with me even when I had no contact with the equine industry. And it was a lesson that would come back into use when I did finally get that contact.
I was in my twenties by then and determined that I would learn to ride a horse properly. I contacted a recommended stable and dressed accordingly for my first lesson. As I stepped into the barn the words came back to me. Long even strokes with a little snap of the wrist at the end. My uncle’s voice had found me. I drew in a deep breath and with it the memories. Sweet hay. Straw mingled with dung. Leather straps and doo-dads that hung from the rafters of a tack room. I was back there if only for a brief moment. And then a new voice cut in.
“Hi, I’m Dan. I’ll be your instructor.”
He handed me a halter and I trailed him to a stall where a sober-faced gelding waited. I learned how to place myself beside the horse and slip the halter on correctly. We headed for the cross-ties and the waiting brushes. It all came back to me. Long even strokes with a little snap of the wrist at the end. The dust flew in little clouds off the back of the gelding’s hip.
“You’ve done this before.”
I nodded and brushed. Over and over. Repeated until every inch of the horse had been groomed.
Donna Fawcett is a creative writing instructor at a local college in Ontario, Canada and an award winning writer. She writes romance, mystery, suspense and thriller novels. She is also a freelance writer and has been published in national and international magazines. Donna speaks at conferences and shares her love of writing with elementary and high school students as she involves them in classroom writing workshops. Her books Fires of Fury (an e-book by Awe-struck books), Redeemed, The Adam & Eve Project and Vengeance (Word Alive Press – print books) can be found at http://www.authordonnadawson.com or at your local book store.