Mike waved goodbye to his father and rode his horse down the quarter mile driveway crossing the gravelled “Market Road,” passed through the angled ditch and onto the neighbor’s cultivated summer-fallow field.
He felt invigorated and light, as he was still feeling heady from the exuberance of the day before. When he got home that evening he’d used his homework time to sketch some of his friends running alongside his horse, admiring his creative artwork on the blinkers, as he’d crossed the schoolyard on his way home.
Now, as he was replaying yesterday’s victories, he hooked his reins around the saddle horn and pulled out the scribbler with the drawings, from his shoulder bag. He opened the pages studying the pencil drawings, moving his body back and forth in time to the horses walk as he focused on the artwork. In fact, he appreciated it
when Doll stopped to graze, making it easier for his eyes to focus and study his artwork.
Mike had by now engaged his “right brain,” as any good artist would do. He of course did not understand what this meant. What it did mean was that he had mentally moved from the real world into another world of his own. That was something he loved about art. It was a place he would naturally go when he drew the doodles in his scribblers. The teachers voice would receded into the distance and
literally disappear. He had learned that by getting into a drawing he could escape from the real world around him. Sometimes he could lose a whole class, just doodling. It was great.
Time for example, was now non-existent. He was no longer aware he was to be at school in twenty minutes. If you would have stood in front of him, shaking him back into reality, he would have become aware that he needed to be at school soon and that he’d better get going so as to be on time. But there was no one to shake
him out of his right brain mode now.
In fact He did not even notice the movements of his horse calmly grazing along the fence line, moving a step, stopping, eating, ripping up the grass, then moving along another step.... This was exactly what his father had warned him about. “Don’t let the horse graze, nothing good will come of it.” Was what he’d
Mike did not even hear the John Deer tractor, cultivator in tow, driving along in road gear going south on the market road. The meadowlark, singing his heart out a few fence posts away, would have been offended had he known, his beautiful song was falling on deaf ears.
Mike also did not notice that Doll was now moving away from the fence line. Although her movements were similar to while she’d been grazing, unbeknownst to him she was now sniffing the ground, swaying her head from side to side….
We know what Mike was thinking about, but what exactly was his horse Doll thinking? She’d come to believe that she did not really have a rider on her back. There were no commands or directives coming from him. She’d been walking, eating and chewing fresh green grass, without interruption for the last 10 or 15 minutes.
As far as she was concerned, her back itched. There were bugs on her back that were bothering her. She just needed to repel these insects and give herself a good scratch. The saddle including the boy were just that, bugs that needed to be removed. She needed a refreshing dust bath to deal with these irritants on her back.
Mike, engrossed in his plans for new drawings, was unaware that his world was tilting more and more. If you or I would have been there we would have seen it and called a warning, but there was no one around to bring him back to reality. It wasn't until doll's front legs had buckled and she’d gone to her knees that Mike’s mind began to become aware that not all things were as they should be. He came out of his right brain in a rush, looking up to see why he
was having to tilt backwards in his saddle so severely, he got a huge surprise. The hair on the back of his neck stood up as he saw that the ground was coming up towards him, fast. He panicked, and in shear fright literally lurched upward, well kind of sideways and threw himself off the horse bodily, imagining he’d be crushed under his own horse. He landed on all fours, much to close to the writhing, flailing horse. He was so close he could feel her heat
and movement. His only option was to frantically scrabble away on his hands and knees as fast as he could. It was embarrassing but he had no other option. He came to his feet a few yards later, running to clear the area. Then when he felt safe enough he slowed, turning wide-eyed, only to see his horse laying on her
side, her back to him, attempting to throw herself over onto her
Mike, his heart pounding, watched her make several attempts, grunting with effort, legs and hooves flailing in the air, dust flying as she would almost make it, only to flop back. Then she’d try again and finally after the fourth or so try, she made it and balanced right on her back, stopped there for a moment or two,
Mike wondering if she’d make it all the way…she wriggled, moved her head and slowly began to fall, going completely over, onto her other side.
Mike stood, transfixed by the sight of this large animal completely upside down. It would be an image seared into his memory, something he would never forget. He felt privileged somehow for having seen this. For now, he would keep this image front and centre, and file it away later.
Doll was beginning to get up. Suddenly he realised he’d need to get his hands on his horse again. After all, he still had a ways to go to school. But he was twenty feet away.
But doll was not done yet! Once on her feet she stood, paused, and then began to shake herself. Her whole body vibrated. She stood, splayed out, her whole body shuddering, looking like she was trying to shake the saddle right off her back. Dust rose into the air around her, slowly drifting away in the light breeze. Then, it was over. She stood perfectly still.
She swivelled her head and looked straight at Mike. He wasn't sure what to make of it. What was she trying to say? Her tail swished and her head went up and down, her eyes on him. Was this her
invitation to come and claim her again for the rest of his ride to
Was this her “thank you” for the "break" he'd inadvertently given her? He wasn't quit sure, but took a tentative step towards
The moment he moved, she threw her head up into the air with a neigh and began to prance, sideways, away from him. Then broke into small hops including a few bucks, his lunch box and stirrups flying, the reins sliding up her neck. Then she kicked her rear legs into the air and began trotting away. He took a few running steps after her, calling name, but it was useless, she was curving back
the way they had come. Without any hesitation, she continued moving away from him, in the direction of home.
In a few moments, he was alone. The prairie silence enveloping him like a blanket.
He stood thinking. What was he do to do? Should he go home, or should he go to school? He realised his lunch was gone, tied to the saddle and was on its way home. He had his shoulder bag, and remembered his scribbler. Where was his scribbler? He found it wrinkled, dusty, crushed and ripped where Doll had rolled. He shook the dirt out of it, folded it over and stuffed it into his bag.
He began to walk, towards the school. Why? He was not sure. That was what he was supposed to do, go to school, was it not? So that’s what he did.
Then he heard it, a meadowlark, from somewhere very nearby, singing its beautiful song. He stopped, embracing the clear beautiful prairie melody, and felt his throat swell with emotion. He knew it was a gift. A gift that obviously was meant, just for him.
"But Martha was distracted..." Luke 10:40
Photo: By Cliff Derksen