Every so often, especially when I was littler, lighter, and a beginning rider, Boogie would take off. Maybe he was sick of being obedient to the shrimp on his back. Sometimes he’d pretend to be scared off a bush. He’d just bolt, and there was nothing for me to do but grab a handful of mane and hang on.
It’s happening again. I tell myself it’s okay because daddy is running behind holding the lead. But when I peek back, the lead is dragging on the ground and Dad is far behind with his hands up in the air.
I know he trusts me to hang on. He uses big words when he talks about me, like “pugnacious” and “tenacious.” They sound like good things. I can prove to him that I’m strong and make him proud. I’m hanging on. Grass is a blur. Trees are a blur. I simply will not fall. I’ve fallen once into the patch of stinging nettles at the bottom of the field and I am not doing that again.
Boogie is galloping full speed now. I have a feeling he is enjoying this. As for me, I’m not sure what is more thrilling: the speed, or my own determination to hang on in spite of his efforts to dismount me.
He’s headed for the woods. I know that he knows that that’s the scariest for me. He must be really pissed off today. The trick he likes to play on me is to head straight for a trunk, full gallop, and at the last second do a nimble sideways jump.
This time, I see the big chestnut coming at me. I feel Boogie do his fast sidestep under me but . . . I must have lost my grip. I keep going straight. I feel my body wrap itself around the trunk. My chest empties in one loud oomph. I feel myself slide to the base of the trunk.
I regain consciousness in the grand bedroom of the manor. I don’t remember, but apparently I’ve walked up here. The old couple is looking at me with concern. My dad sports his amused-proud smirk. “She’s a tough one, hey?” Mind over matter—the motto my dad repeats often to me, in English, pops into my head.
I laugh too—that was pretty funny.
Straight out of a Tex Avery cartoon.
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