By Laura Saint Martin
As I wipe the sweat from Pogie’s spotted coat, I think about what horses mean to me. Aside from their centuries of service to mankind, for the work they’ve done and the wars they’ve carried us into, I think horses bring out the best in us. I am especially an advocate of equine interaction for people on the autism spectrum. Horses certainly saved me.
We are not born broken. We are born different. Fear and ignorance break us. Every bad habit broken in schools, hospitals and clinics is a little shard of our crushed spirits. Just as every broke horse is too frightened of consequences to be his true self, we are too frightened to tap out unique creativity. If we excel at something, it is classified as an “intense interest,” a symptom rather than a skill.
My parents shunned applied behaviour analysis. They instead taught me alternatives to my impulsivity. They taught by example. They knew better than to try to bring order to my chaos. so they taught me to give chaos an orderly space to bang around in.
Because my chaos liked to break things.
Who isn’t? Good ol’ chaos drops us on our heads all the time, and we break. And we mend. But not perfectly. Like the Japanese art of kintsugi*, we emerge less perfect but more beautiful. Intriguing. We are a story.
When I soothe the seismic skin of my horse, I imagine filling his broken places with trust. This is not easy for him. I’m a predator and he’s prey. I stink of meat and death. But his heart will eventually slow, the surf of his skin becalmed, and he in his turn will flood my cracks with gold.
*Japanese art of mending and philosophy of embracing the flawed or the imperfect.
Laura Saint Martin is a semi-retired psychiatric technician, grandmother, jewelry artist, and poet. She is working on a mystery/women’s fiction series about a mounted equestrian patrol in Southern California. Sha has an Associate of Arts, and uses her home-grown writing skills to influence, agitate, and amuse others. She lives in Rancho Cucamonga, CA with her family and numerous spoiled pets, and has dedicated her golden years to learning what, exactly, a Cucamonga is. She works at Patton State Hospital and for Rover.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.