Last night, we went out to visit Hoartie. Something was making the horses act funny. I think it was the drop in temperature from the mid-90s to high 70s, but I can’t be sure. When I entered the pasture, Hoartie came trotting up, happy to see her new friend and eager to allow me to fasten her halter. I gave her a rub and a kiss and together we walked toward the gate. Zara, the gate keeper, the great escape artist, ran along the fence-line away from the gate, leaving me with the perfect opportunity to get safely through the gate without any hassles.

As I stepped through the gate, I felt Hoartie spook and she lunged forward, knocking me off my feet. I stepped back and pulled hard on the lead rope, hoping to startle her, but she seemed to dance. We walked around and around, me avoiding her footpath while she leapt and whirled in nervous excitement. It was thrilling and absolutely terrifying at once. A few times, she shouldered me, and I felt the force of her weight. After a few minutes of this, I called for help.

Help came and Hoartie settled, but didn’t relax. She pawed at the ground and kept her head held high, ears pricked forward anxiously listening as the other horses whinnied and bolted in their pastures. It was the strangest feeling; a heightened sense all around the farm, but for what, I couldn’t decide.

I was shaking, which didn’t help.  Ralph assured me I would know when to bale, “When you see hooves start to fly, it’s time to let go of the rope.”

And yet I hadn’t seen hooves. I baled because I felt invisible. The horse moved in circles around me, running into me as if I didn’t exist. My heart felt trampled. I knew that my fear of the horse had won out. I couldn’t decide whether my instincts to call for help had been appropriate or perhaps I should have kept up the dance, learned from it, even with risk of injury. I’ll go back tonight and try again. Each time, I know my fear is lessened. Each time, I know I’ll learn something new. And maybe last night the lesson was about trust. About trusting my instincts. Maybe what really shook me was simply this: I didn’t trust myself enough.