By anyone’s standards, Kit is large. A spotted draft horse weighing more than 1800 lbs, with feet the size of dinner plates and a skull the size of my torso, she is a formidable animal. At 13 years old, she is still not broke to ride, but she has skills. When I am confused or frightened, it is she who immediately recognizes it and comes to me, long before I can identify the emotion in my own soul. Whatever trauma she endured before I knew her, recognizes itself in others. She is the healer in our curious herd of four.
This evening, I was waiting in the barn for the three mares to finish their grain so that I could give them each a helping of hay. There in the long stillness, I was suddenly overcome with a sadness so profound that I could not name it. I choked on the heat of the tears that bubbled up like an unstoppable spring. And then, I conceded, and let them flow wherever they wanted to go. You have to understand, I’m not good at emotion. I don’t understand it and it always feels like someone else’s. Any emotion I might feel lives strictly in my gut and solar plexus, a relentless roiling mass of undefined and unnamed electric chaos. Tears are strictly forbidden.
Leaning against the oak wall, heaving sobs that had no face, I felt a warm breath on my shoulder. Kit had come to stand near me. She was so close that she could have crushed me against the stall door. But, she stood quietly, still and gentle, head down and eyes half closed, just breathing. She had positioned herself carefully between me and the other two horses, and there she stood, a mountain of black and white glistening silence. She protected me with all the patience in the world, making a space with her body where I could be safe. She absorbed the grief, and held me there in her massive embrace until the last shuddering breaths had passed. Then, she turned her head and laid her immense soft nose on my chest, over my heart.
I thought, “So… this is what it’s like. This is what it feels like… to be mothered.”
All photography by ZenDoe