In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.


I rode Aaruba today, for the first time in a year.  He has wanted to go for so long, but I haven’t let him, for fear of his pain.  But boredom is its own brand of anguish, and on unsettled days like this one his ire rises.  And so we went.

I used my old Stonewall, the one in which I trained him.  It felt right, somehow.  Like it belonged between us.  We walked along the irrigation canal above fields of hay and canola, into a thunderstorm whose lightning slashed a brooding sky.  Beside us flowed the water, dark as memory, overhung by windswept grass.

He grazed a bit, so tall I had to lean forward to keep hold of the rein.  Twitched when the first drops fell cold upon our shoulders. Pushed into the wind, drew himself full of its energy like a sail.  There he was, the Aaruba I remember.

We went only a mile, then turned for home.  He asked to hurry.  Ah, this battle.  We were working through it, back before he nearly died.  But this was no day to fight.  I let him go, and curse the pain.  If he hurt, it was nothing to the joy of racing free again, to release that huge and bounding trot that carried us so many miles together.

He’s still in there, my Aaruba who loves motion more than life itself.  I felt him in the coiled spring of pastern, hock, and loin.  I felt him and I thought, perhaps this is how it is, to lose someone to Alzheimer’s.  Missing things you never noticed properly.  Grasping what you’ll never hold again.

We took the last hill at a canter.  Reckless pleasure, worth the risk!  We slid to stop on our gravel drive, hooves and hair and reins askew.  I dismounted, breathless, looked up into his face.  His forehead pressed against the clouds.  His nostrils filled with wind, with life! And rain slid down my cheeks like tears.


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16 responses

  1. Dom

    I cried reading this. I’m so glad you two got your ride. Beautiful.

    October 3, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    • To know she moved a reader is the greatest compliment to a writer. I thank you.

      October 3, 2010 at 7:39 pm

  2. tomandbuster

    How is it that a phenomenally talented writer can assemble mere words, which individually mean nothing more than their dictionary definitions, into art that exposes and touches the soul? What a beautiful, bittersweet glimpse into the relationship between you and Aaruba. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    October 3, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    • I’m not sure how, Tom…but you just managed it yourself. 🙂

      October 3, 2010 at 7:39 pm

  3. Such a beautiful post! I’ve missed reading about Aaruba and have wondered how he is. I think he’s telling you that although he may not be the same physically — his heart and spirit are still living on strong — not unlike an Alzheimer’s patient….

    I lost my grandfather to that horrid condition and I can see the relation here.


    This one definitely belongs on “The best of….” list 😉

    October 3, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    • Aww, thanks Carol. If only I knew whether riding him more often would do him more harm, or good! I’m glad my reference to Alzheimers wasn’t offensive — I worried that it might be, since there we’re talking about PEOPLE!

      October 3, 2010 at 7:48 pm

  4. Once again you have brought me to tears, i’m so glad the two of you have gotten a ride, even though it was shorter than either of you would have liked.

    October 3, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    • Thanks, Caitlyn. Yes, I think he’d have loved to have a go at 50 miles! 🙂

      October 4, 2010 at 6:44 am

  5. If only there had been streaks of rain to disguise my tears as I read this. Fortunately, I had my office door closed. 😉

    October 4, 2010 at 10:15 am

    • 🙂 Thank goodness for office doors. And thank you.

      October 4, 2010 at 10:23 am

  6. sj

    Aaruba has a terrific heart.

    So do you.


    October 4, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    • “And if I’m true, it’s all because of you
      And the power of your noble heart.”

      October 4, 2010 at 4:45 pm

  7. Do you think he’s still in pain?

    October 5, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    • Sometimes, I know for sure. Other times, I wonder. He’s so stoic that it’s hard to be sure — and when he does give evidence of “mild” pain, maybe it’s not so mild. Sigh. It’s hard, this matter of making decisions on behalf of a friend.

      October 5, 2010 at 7:25 pm

  8. Looking at saddles, how do you like the Stonewall? Secure seat?

    November 10, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    • I love my Stonewall! The seat is surprisingly secure despite the minimalist style of the saddle, which is exactly how I like it.

      November 11, 2011 at 8:32 am

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