I remember the moment, like a re-creation from ‘ I shouldn’t be alive’ or a melodramatic highlight in McCloud’s daughters. Laying prone in a vast dry clearing, the hot unforgiving eye of the sun blasting me into high relief. Off to the side shimmery figures on horses looked at me apathetically. Soothing encouraging enticements to ride again from the tour leader helped to deny the spasms of pain across my lower back. More importantly, I’d heard a crack – a sickening crack – when my hip collided with the dry packed earth. My instant thought was ‘ oh we were going faster than I’d realised’ and remembered Augustus’ sorrel head tossing wildly as he gathered for a sprint. This, short on the heels of my oddly clear thoughts as I dived through the air “this is it, the controlled taekwondo fall”. In a strange way I had been planning for this moment on the drive up here through the Blue Mountains as I talked over the dangers of horse-riding with my sister.
In the instant it ( the leap, later recounted as a fall) was happening I was fully aware of my head and arms flying forward, my feet releasing easily from the stirrups. For a heartbeat I really was flying, the flashing of red brown and yellow green blurred beneath me. ‘It was going to be ok’. This all before the gravity of reality came I to play. The hit, hooves gnashing the air, writhing in the sun, crawling fist by fist to the ute’s black floor, ambulance, now hospital days and nights.
I had been thinking just the day before about gravity as a defining feature of this, our , reality. Did we collectively require this one strong undeniable rule here on Earth to ground our daily to and fro philosophising? Flights of fancy nipped in the bud by this gravity-reality, protecting our fleshy delicate matter-bodies. Like moths to the moon our existence is co-created not always delicately within the strong embrace of gravity, an over protective parent. Moments of flying exact a high price…and the reward experiential dispersion of self into nondescript free association with other, newer, particles.
Does all of this explain why ‘Gus called to me through the media of internet postings and complex circumstance? Many still undefinable qualities radiated from the images posted to gumtree.com.au. I had checked back across other listings and other times but no similar sensation ‘popped’. On arriving at the valley stables, one of those places the word picturesque was specially reserved for, I checked ‘Gus for signs of radiance. Let me make clear that I was under no false pretences about my ability as a rider..I am rusty, a veritable city slicker on the dude ranch scenario in the making. The main difference is that I do spend time almost everyday working with my own unridden horses on the ground.
I wanted to connect, there was no time, the train was leaving the station, whistles blowing. ‘Gus’s keeper had her adorable child clinging and needed leave, the tour was waiting to go on time! Then I was just up there. Up astride the well used leather western saddle, broad and comfort minded like a living room sofa, my 80kg weight bearing down on his 14.1 hands of quarab muscle. This connection in the making was apparently not for discussion, our fate entwined by possibility in action, not contemplation. Fitting for a being such as me who finds moments of serenity hard to grasp ; fervour for action whipped frothy by pressures flowing through and around. I’m kayaking the rapids anyway.
Writing on my ipad, lifeline to the universe and beyond, I’m interrupted occasionally with offers of drugs for pain, blood clotting, constipation, also dinner menus get settled, then stabbed repeatedly in vain hunts to extract blood from my secretive veins. I’m wishing a vampire was on the roster here, a being whose desire for blood must hone her action to instrumental precision. Even still, hospital is a strange hotel. Oddly comforting despite all the needles. The pain is a new gravity- reality. Pausing me. Helping to complete my life rehab self-started 2 years earlier. Stripping away pressure, cause, temptation and leaving just ‘me’. All I can think now is that Augustus brought me here. I want to see him again. Letting him go now is strangely painful. The desire to possess who I love is too predatory. I don’t want to indulge the human tendency for predation. I can’t improve his life, he lives in the valley of horse heaven. I’ll have to trust for now in gravity to help me to complete the healing process. Gravity won’t be denied.