That bastard horse bit me on the ass while I was trying to pick out his hooves the first time. Rat bastard horse. I grabbed the underside of his halter, unfolding to a standing position, and pulled his head down firmly toward mine, until we were looking eye to eye. Then, with a closed fist in the middle of his nose, I thumped him firmly– “No,” I said.
We were friends from there on out. He let me clean his hooves, brush him before lessons, rub him down at the end of a walk/trot session in which I’d FINALLY managed to get up on his sway-back Hunter’s back without a mounting block. Other girls in the class (and I do mean girls, in the most derogatory manner) who would get there before me and try to claim him for the lesson because he was still “pretty,” would learn their lesson. While I was currying Bear, a Quarter Horse whose name should have been Molasses, he was so slow, I would listen to outraged yelps and “he BIT me!” from the girls too timid to look him in the eye, and say, firmly, “no more of that, my friend.”
Dealer walked, he trotted, he obligingly cantered at the end of the semester, hopped over logs three inches off the ground, and he stood still as I tried and repeatedly failed to heave myself onto his tall back from the stirrups alone. And when I finally got up, three tries in a row, I could see his ears flick back, and feel him blow in what felt like approval.
He was only a school horse, and an older gent at that, but for that semester and a bargain price, he was my horse. He loved butterscotch candies– not so much with the baby carrots from the dorm salad bar. I don’t reminisce much about college (1000 angsty, hyperintelligent, hyper-critical, sexuality-curious women in the middle of nowhere? Um, yeah. Too close for comfort, often.), but I’ve got a picture of me on Dealer’s back, dorky school helmet and all, taken right before graduation, and every time I see it, I smell hay, and see his russet hairs embedding themselves into the cheapo fleece that was only good for riding after I wore it to lessons the first time. And I remember the love nip; it doesn’t hurt now like I thought it did then. Instead, it feels almost like a horsey hug.