It's always fun to make a cliche literal and yesterday, I did just that after finally getting on a horse again after three loooooong months of elbow rehab. At the risk of sounding corny, it felt like someone had opened up my cranium and shined a light into it allowing bats, spiders and other dark creatures to make their escape.
There are a few folks on the planet who may understand my spiritual need for horses (Hi Leslie!) but since it has come so late in my life, I remain mystified by it. The riding is only a small part of it; the grooming and tacking are enough to make me giddy. I once spent hours pulling ticks off my equine friend, Robin, assisted by another horse lover, Erika, and we both agreed it was one of the best days ever.
People connect to the universal energy - which some assign to a deity such as "God" or "Allah" or "Allan Greenspan" - in different ways. Though I love to photograph churches and temples, my soul gets no substanance from these man-made structures. The Grand Canyon and a perfectly ripe strawberry come close to stirring my soul but animals really do it for me, horses specifically. They are a direct conduit to that invisible force that drives it all forward.
I must have spent an hour on Sunday hanging out with my friend Roxy, a white horse voted "Most Likely to be a Unicorn" by us groupies. Since she is privately owned, I cannot ride her but we passed the time playing the Lip Game. I hide horse cookies on my person and she uses her powerful front lip (so very similar to an elephant's trunk) going through all my pockets. In between, she licks my hand and lets me make weird faces with her mouth. She also lets me rub her gums and tries to pull my jacket off with her teeth. Times like this, I have not a care in the world.
Okay, now I've gone kookie. Still, I make no apologies. Horses are my official Mental Health Plan and the absence of them has proven it beyond a doubt. I'm so glad to be back, scooping horse poop and getting bathed in their slobber - otherwise, life is awfully dark.