Take the life of cities!
Here’s the life for me.
‘T were a thousand pities
Not to gallop free.
So we’ll ride together,
Comrade, you and I,
Careless of the weather,
Letting care go by.
Up the hill,
Hurry me not;
Down the hill,
Worry me not;
On the level,
Spare me not;
In the stable,
Forget me not.
The Newborn Colt
The muscles slipping freely
Beneath the fine skin,
The small joints miracles of perfection.
In confident awareness,
In the pride of being alive,
It lifts with grace the pointed white hooves.
Between the foal and its mother is a great love.
It moves with her almost as one,
Yet in no way bound,
While every upright shining hair
On its short ruffle of a mane,
Dances with joy.
Round-hoof’d, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostrils wide,
High crest, short ears, straight legs and passing strong,
Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide:
Look, what a horse should have he did not lack,
Save a proud rider on so proud a back.
Count the white horses you meet on the way,
Count the white horses, child, day after day,
Keep a wish ready for wishing—if you
Wish on the ninth horse, your wish will come true.
I saw a white horse at the end of the lane,
I saw a white horse canter down by the shore,
I saw a white horse that was drawing a wain,
And one drinking out of a trough: that made four.
I saw a white horse gallop over the down,
I saw a white horse looking over a gate,
I saw a white horse on the way into town,
And one on the way coming back: that made eight.
But oh for the ninth one: where he tossed his mane,
And cantered and galloped and whinnied and swished
His silky white tail, I went looking in vain,
And the wish I had ready could never be wished.
But every night now
For a month
I have run away
To the blue lake
Where the wild horses
Come to drink…
…In the moonlight
The white coats are blue
And the bays are shadows.
I stand perfectly still.
My legs grow long and powerful.
I will run with the horses.
Catching The Horse
When you get out there
Holding the rope and the halter
And the carrots
As casually as you can,
Remember that she’ll
Outrun you at a trot,
So don’t rush right up
To her silk flanks
Quivering, then give her
Another carrot and slip
The halter over her nose
While she’s still chewing,
Clipping the rope
Under her chin so you
Won’t have to dig in
With your heels or start
All over again in another
Part of the pasture.
Now start whistling
And lead her into
Her spangles twinkle; his pale flanks shine,
Every hair of his tail is fine
And bright as a comet’s; his mane blows free,
And she points a toe and bends a knee,
And while his hoofbeats fall like rain
Over and over and over again.
A gigantic beauty of a stallion,
Fresh and responsive to my caresses,
Head high in the forehead
And wide between the ears,
Limbs glossy and supple,
Tail dusting the ground,
Eyes well apart and full of sparkling wickedness,
Ears finely cut and flexibly moving.
I learned two things
From an early riding teacher.
He held a nervous filly
In one hand and gestured
With the other, saying, “Listen.
Keep one leg on one side,
The other leg on the other side,
And your mind in the middle.”
The Kentucky Thoroughbred
I love the hoss from hoof to head,
From head to hoof and tail to mane;
I love the hoss, as I have said,
From head to hoof and back again.
-James Whitcomb Riley
How charming it would be to rear,
And have hind legs to balance on;
Of hay and oats within a year
To leisurely devour a ton;
To stoop my head and quench my drouth
With water in a lovely pail;
To wear a snaffle in my mouth,
Fling back my ears, and slash my tail!
The Fly-Away Horse
Oh, a wonderful horse is the Fly-Away Horse—
Perhaps you have seen him before;
Perhaps, while you slept, his shadow has swept
Through the moonlight that floats on the floor.
For it’s only at night, when the stars twinkle bright,
That the Fly-Away Horse, with a neigh
And a pull at his rein and a toss of his mane,
Is up on his heels and away!
The Moon in the sky, as he gallopeth by,
Cries: “Oh! What a marvelous sight!”
And the Stars in dismay hide their faces away
In the lap of old Grandmother Night.