Before Hudson, I would go to Tiny when I was upset, and he would “hug” me. If I stood at his neck or shoulder, he’d try to bend his head and neck to wrap around my body. Tiny’s affection saved me often. If I hung on him, he’d drop his head over my shoulder and pull me toward his chest by pulling his head back. He was amazingly smart and intuitive, and very willing to share his boundless affection. Horses are all different, but my experience has been they “get” sadness, and try to help. (I may also be living in Black Beauty World.)
I leave the hospital determined to see Hudson. A hug from Hudson will make it better.
Helplessness is not a useful feeling for me. It leads me right into Train Wreck Thinking: helpless goes to hopeless, hopeless goes to powerless, powerless goes to (?) I’m a terrible human being.
Yeah. I don’t get it either.
The weather mirrored my emotional state: driving rain, erratic shifts in the direction of the wind, with low visibility.
By the time I got to the barn, my train wreck was in full dramatic rending and crashing.
I step out of the car. It’s freezing cold, and the storm seems to have intensified. I fill the boy’s grain buckets, and hike up to their shelter. It’s unexpectedly cozy inside. It’s only two and a half sides, but it’s quiet, dry, and wind-free.
I dole out buckets, and check under-blanket temperatures. They’re fine. Toasty.
I walk up to a chewing Hudson, and plunk my forehead on his shoulder. I sob.
Hudson looks at me with mild alarm: Okaaaaay.
He doesn’t move, but his body weight shifts away from me.
Oh. I’m bugging him. Maybe it’s the weird forehead plunk? Surely he’ll comfort me.
I do a more normal thing: I stand at his shoulder and gently lean my shoulder against his. I want to crawl under his blanket. I continue to sob, leaning on him.
Hudson scoops a huge amount of grain into his mouth, so he can chew and consider me without having to reach down again.
“It’s just hard”, I say. “I have all these feelings.”
His ears swivel. Grain dribbles out of his mouth, and he tries to catch it with his lips: the big wad of grain remains safe behind his clamped teeth. Talented horse.
“I don’t want to keep bugging my friends”, I say, “and I can’t stop crying, I thought talking to you would help.”
Hudson doesn’t have a clue what I’m saying. But I am convinced horses can read our emotional intention. I wait for my “hug”.
Instead, this happens:
Hudson: Jane? You’re leaning on me. I’m not cold. I’m warm, see?
He shifts away, putting air between us.
Also, the leaning thing? Itchy.
He refuels his mouth with a normal amount of grain. Chews.
I convince myself he just doesn’t understand – yet – what I need. I hug him.
Hudson steps away: Don’t know what the problem is? But, uh, this time of night is guy time. We eat, get ready for bed, and you go wherever you go when you’re not here. Go there, K? Come back in the morning. We’re fine. See?
He glances at Woodrow. Woodrow lifts his head and swivels his ears slowly, in what I can only describe as the horse equivalent of a “don’t look at me, I have no clue” shoulder lift.
I swear, if Woodrow could talk, he would have said: “Um yeah, we’re fine. Blankets, food, nice in here…” (Sotto voice: Dude, what the heck is that all about…?)
I can’t help it. I burst out laughing. I laugh so hard I can barely stand, and have to move to the wall for physical support.
Woodrow and Hudson exchange a look, big question marks over their heads. Within a second, the question marks are dismissed, and they are contentedly focused on their buckets: the important thing in their environment.
This cracks me up more.
Immediately, I feel more normal. A hug would have comforted me, but would also have prolonged the feelings I hadn’t been able to turn off for hours. Hudson rolled his eyes at my train wreck, encouraged me to leave, and it fixed me.
Much to their relief, I leave. By the time I reach my car, my jacket is soaked through and I’m shivering. But my world has been righted again, and I’m not crying. I’m smiling.
God I love this horse. I’d run back up and hug him, if it wouldn’t bother him so much!