I Am A Horse

From a newborn foal on wobbly legs
I grow into a strong young horse
Sometimes a flirty filly
I toss my mane and flick my tail as you notice me
Or perk my ears in anticipation of your approach
A nuzzle and a whinny of recognition and caring
I have a mind of my own
In frustration you may say, “Stubborn as a mule”
I’m not part donkey though
I’m a horse through and through
Even if my lineage isn’t purebred
Like an Arabian, Morgan or Wild Mustang
My markings aren’t obvious
Like Palominos, Paints or Appaloosas
My coat is brown
My mane glints red in the sunlight
I wear it long, sometimes tangled or braided
I like it best blowing in the wind
As I race at a gallop
In an open field alone
I feel powerful and free
With the sky above me
The alfalfa field beneath my feet
The wind flowing past my sides
It feels as if I am flying
My hooves barely touch the ground
I have white socks that catch your eye
When I slow to a trot and then a walk
My eyes are big and brown and soulful
Wise beyond my years
They see all and notice the Little Things
Life is in the details
You can trust me with your secrets
Whispered in my ever perked and attentive ears
I like them rubbed and scratched some too
(If you can take the time)
A white blaze from my forehead to my nose
Where the skin feels like velvet
And my warm breath blows
I’m older now
Not racing quite as much
I’ve grown to be a Brood Mare
Tending to a rascally bunch
Two young colts born three years apart
Who inherited their mother’s Wild Heart
Got their patience from their father
They’ll grow to be Good Stock
In the meantime, we stand together
Nudging them on their way
They are learning on the halter
Being guided close to home
They don’t like the feel of the bit between their teeth
I can’t argue much since I agree
I still toss my head and rear a bit
When it’s time to be bridled up
I’d rather be ridden bareback
With just my mane for holding on
Blankets make me hot and surly
Saddles weigh me down
It’s the Journey that intrigues me
And keeps me standing still
As I wait in the barnyard to be saddled
No need to tie me up
I’ll stand at attention
And submit to the bridle and the bit
Then the blanket and the saddle
As you get ready to climb on up and sit
We’re connected then
Time to Blaze a Trail
I wonder where we’re headed
And don’t mind if it’s a Familiar Path
Sometimes you keep me guessing
And we turn left instead of right
Then I’m more aware and diligent
About every changing sight

From a flirty filly to a mare
I met a stallion and a friendship grew
Though not a traditional matched set
We’re a mighty powerful team
He’s taller and broader
Whereas I have a smaller frame
Don’t judge me by my size
Looks can be deceiving
We can pull a full size load harnessed together
Just the same
Grit is the name of the game
I come by it naturally
It’s in my blood
“Strong stock” they say
Sometimes tempers flare
A whinny, a rear, stomped feet
Over the years we’ve learned to forgive
And offer something sweet
Our heads close together for a nuzzle
Gets us back on track
We’ve learned the hard way
That we can’t pull the load
If we’re heading in opposite directions
That just doesn’t work
Even with the best of tack
Old lessons learned are stored away
In the recesses of my mind
New ones are ahead
Waiting for us to find
Those two colts are growing up
Still frisky and energetic
Our job is to keep them on the right path
And away from folly
Thankfully the barn is solid, safe and warm
Our bedding is soft and fresh
And our trough is filled each day
Food and shelter
Our needs are met
A content family
Truly blessed

The pasture is a Treasure Trove
Of sweet grass and clover
With shade, sunshine and gentle breezes
Not much time to enjoy it now
We’re still Working Horses
The years are passing faster
Soon our time will come
When we’ll be turned out to pasture
To soak up the sun
No complaints
Life is good
For as long as I’m here to stay
I’ll keep on keeping on
Doing what I’m asked to each day
And in those quiet moments
When my Family’s Needs are met
You may spy me along the horizon
Running like the wind
And think to yourself
“That old horse has still got it”
A fiery spirit and Wild Heart within

Written as an assignment from my Grandpa, Erwin A. Thompson, the Grandsire of the Good Stock I come from. At age 95 he is still writing poetry, stories and making music. It's at his house, atop the bluffs alongside the mighty Mississippi River in southern Illinois, where I learned my Love of Horses. From the time I was big enough to be held by my dad in the saddle, through my high school years, I rode horses at my Grandpa's House. I was there visiting, on both occasions, when the horses I grew up riding passed away. The fences are down now. The pasture is just part of the landscape. We still call it The Alfalfa Field but none has been harvested in years.

This story poem, "I Am A Horse", is what I gave to my Grandpa for Christmas this year along with a letter and an Author's Note. I put it in a 10¢, or maybe 25¢, folder with three hole punch anchors and the title, "Horsin' Around", written in marker on the outside. In the letter to him I wrote, "Somehow it’s easier to share feelings and emotions behind the image of a majestic and powerful animal than as my regular old self saying the same words. You are tied to my Horse Memories with a piece of the balin’ twine that we’d use to catch the horses in the pasture and lead them to the barn for saddling and currying. Thank you for the gift of growing up with horses and all the wonderful memories made upon their backs, as we wandered the roads and woods of Evergreen Heights, and the ones formed while standing by their side in your barnyard."

My Grandpa challenged me, awhile ago, to write a pedigree for his whittled horse. He carves a menagerie of critters from blocks of scrap wood and gives them away to the people he meets along his Life's Journey. Sometimes, if you're lucky, he'll add one of his typed write ups titled, "I.M.A." pig, dog, pig, etc. which enhances the gift all the more. The words swirled in my head, where I wrote it a few times over, before the day I sat in the parking lot at the grocery store with a pen and my yellow legal pad and the following horsey writing came pouring out of me one morning in September. The children were at school, my husband was home sleeping after a night’s work and the groceries could wait to be purchased while I followed the train of thought that wasn’t going to quiet until I saw it through.

I made a duplicate for myself a few months later and shared this poem at the February Art Circle meeting as one of the self portraits I brought that night. I took his whittled mule with the cocked ears and horse to pass around the circle as I read the words above. In the Author's Note at the end I added, "I often summarize the characteristics of my two sons using old-fashioned horse expressions. My oldest son’s saying is, “Stop putting the cart in front of the horse” as his tendency is to have his eye on the end product in the future while skimming over the necessary steps in the middle. My younger son can be summarized with, “You can lead a horse to water but you just can’t make him drink.” He comes by his stubborn naturally from both of his parents. (It’s not all from his mother (Moi) regardless of what his father may say to the contrary.) They are each unique and wonderful individuals and I marvel at them and learn from them each day."

Feels funny to Quote Myself in my own piece of writing. Not sure I ever learned how to do that in English class. Just felt like I should honor where it first appeared by using quote marks and keeping it separate somehow.

© 2011 Janean Baird, Turquoise Tangles


8 thoughts on “I Am A Horse

  1. gjd writes:Loved this! 🙂

  2. Thank you, very much! 🙂

  3. Oh, John. Wow. Now, who's at a loss for words?! "Thank you" doesn't sound like enough to say how much it means to me to know how deeply touched and moved you are by what I had to say. To add a little humor in here, I'll tell you what keeps running through my mind, are these rhyming words, often jokingly said, "I'm a poet, and I didn't know it." But this feels so right it's surely true. Artist. Writer. Poet. I'm getting better at saying these things/titles/gifts aloud. Thank you SO MUCH for your emotion filled words. Truly. Thank you.

  4. Janean,I love this poem. It thrills me. It fills me. It touches my mind and my heart. It is a story of love and diligence and trust and faith and loyalty. It is also allegorical. I cannot ever do it full justice with my mere words – but Oh if I had thy gift I would do so and then this poor reply to you would be the richer in substance. You are a remarkable and gifted writer. I feel the warmth, the 'feelings' coming out of the narrative, the scope and depth of your descriptive wording is, to understate, cogent and also sublime. If you could see me I would bow to you. You deserve the capital letter that is the W in the true descriptive word "Writer".. and you deserve all the accolades that I am certain come your way. I am never lost for words. But I will admit to feeling almost stunned into silence as I read and drink in – yes, drink in, as if I have found an oasis of clear sweet fresh cleansing water – the words that flow from your poem into my eyes and touch all the corners of my mind, then seep slowly down into my heart and fill it with profound pleasure. This has been a most wonderful and delightful experience for me, as a poet, to read your great poem. Thank you so much. :happy:

  5. lokutus-prime

    Janean, you are most welcome. Thank YOU for sharing your sublime writing. You have a gift here and in doing what you do it gets honed through practice. Please keep your blog going. It will provide delight for all who come to call by. And as you visit others your circle of friends and acquaintances will correspondingly expand and they will come to know your writing skills. I will return often, your blog is now on my "subscription" and I will benefit from what I see (as will others, I am sure) :happy::up:John

  6. Thank you once again, John. Hope I don't sound like a broken record. You know how it's one thing when your mom says it's good, because, well, she's your MOM! But to hear it from someone you've never met in person with no ulterior motives or anything to gain from praise just sheds new light and give you hope and encouragement you might be on to something. Yes. I will keep blogging. Because I have to. There are stories to tell and poems to write and it's more fun than I ever expected. ~ Janean

  7. lokutus-prime

    Originally posted by jbaird:

    There are stories to tell and poems to write and it's more fun than I ever expected.

    :happy: Ah Janean, my new friend.. your words takes me back to when I first started my blog here in October 2004. That was my feeling then and still is my feeling now. – John

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