Chapter 1 When I Was Six I Was A Horse

Chapter 1 When I Was Six I Was A Horse

When I was six I was a horse. I didn’t just want to own a horse or ride a horse or be like a horse. I was a horse.  It was the joke of the family. All the aunts and uncles would deliberately make a point of bringing up the subject so they could hear the story from the cute little toe headed daydreamer, about how I would grow up to be a horse and my older sister would ride me.

But to me it wasn’t fantasy. I was a horse every time I was alone, which was quite a bit of the time. It was a time when parents didn’t hover over there children. They didn’t have to or at least it was perceived that they didn’t have to.  After all, they left downtown Minneapolis to enjoy the calm and safety of the country near the small catholic, very catholic town of Savage, Minnesota.Most of the time I spent with my german shepherd in an area just north of our house that sloped down to wetlands where the Minnesota River used to run through before the highway was built.  As usual, I would get up before anyone in our household, which wasn’t easy considering we always had a baby around. You know. . . good catholic family!  On a crisp autumn morning  “Dusty and I would travel down the pathway to the bottom of the hill.  With each step I would travel closer and closer to what I now know was the right side of my brain.  Slow at first at a careful walk,  bobbing my head up and down and swaying from side to side as a pony does when it’s maneuvering down a slope.  My shoulders would feel the gentle but strong movements of a horse climbing and then descending at a walk as I made my way deeper into the woods and further away from the reality that existed above. When I reached the bottom of the hill, the path forked three ways. One way went to my hidden corral and fort. I went this way when I needed some nurturing. My human owner would settle me into my coral with pretend oats and hay and cover me with a horse blanket and put straw in my stall. This is the path I took when things were particularly chaotic up above in my real world where more times than not I was invisible and too young to understand why.

Number two path would skirt the edge of the hill to a barbed wire fence that held three old nags that I could coax over to the fence and feed nibbles of green grass that they couldn’t reach otherwise. Curiously, this was my least taken path. Looking back, those horses were real, they were real horses that weren’t mine and never would be.  The “valley” as we called it wasn’t supposed to be a real world, it existed in my right brain, and that’s where I needed to keep it.

The third path would take me deeper into the marshy wood. This was the scariest path, full of vines and sounds that could overwhelm me at any moment. I always coaxed Dusty to lead so that she became my army scout, keeping a lookout for Indians. The rewards of my bravery when I reached my destination.  My enchanted castle where I would become the white horse carrying the princess to her prince charming.

Inevitably the left side of my brain would cajole me into fear. The woods were dark and the fairies became conniving, I would turn, and a long necked black thuroughbred would maneuver around a tree branch and head back to the main path, at a delicate walk, I would start to ascend the hill. Not daring to galloped, If I ran I would surly be consumed. The fear developed into lava reaching out for me with the demons riding the lava all the way up the winding path. I wasn’t safe till I stepped up onto mowed lawn, only to be enticed back down the hill the next morning.  50 years later I have dreams of lava invading my safe haven but now I wake up with an overwhelming comfortable feeling that I haven’t lost my inner child.



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