Written by Barbara Weiss
All I wanted was a simple two-track.
“Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Tai,” I said this out loud, as if my four-year-old Paint mare might understand words better than anything my seat or hands could communicate. “A two-year-old colt can do this. What is the problem?”
Tai’s head bobbed up and down fast and hard like a broken Jack-in-the box. The snaffle bit clanked against her teeth. I dropped the reins in front of the saddle horn and drew my arms inside my down vest. It was cold in the arena. The banks of fluorescent tubes in the ceiling cast a light the color of mustard. Rain pinged the galvanized roof in a steady C-sharp beat. I sat on Tai on the middle of the arena, surrounded by mounds of sawdust, silence and the kind of mid-winter night chill that sticks to skin like tears or wet dog nose.
The two-track is a “basic” maneuver. A preamble to the more complicated and impressive side-pass, two-tracking requires that the horse move forward and to the side at once: straight as steel, with grace, with ease.
“You’ve done this before,” I said, “that time when Kate rode you.”
“I saw you,” I said.
There we were: 10 ‘o clock on a mid-January night, two cold stones stuck in the middle of black water. From beyond the arena windows stars of light pierced the branches of fir trees in the fields. The lights were from warm, after dinner homes with people inside watching TV or playing Game Boy or reading. I wanted nothing more than to get off my sweet-damn horse and go home.
But I didn’t.
I didn’t because Tai still shook her head in that furious way that said, “Gol dang it,” or words to that effect. I didn’t because in the back of my mind a gravelly voice said, “Fix it up and wait.”
I’ve never been one to wait. If Nike hadn’t come up with that ‘Just Do It’ campaign first I would have. “Just do it and be done with it,” would have been my slogan—a homemade banner slapped onto the bumper of my dirt brown Toyota right next to “Mean People Suck.” No, waiting has never held much appeal. As a schoolchild, if a teacher wanted a paper by Friday I finished it on Wednesday just because I wanted it done. Accomplished. Achieved. Attained. As an adult, having made the decision to buy a car or climb a mountain I scheduled it in my day timer and started organizing gear or visiting car dealerships. I pursued it vigorously and anything that slowed my trajectory caused agony.
Whatever it is: reaching the top of a mountain or riding a perfect two-track…the dream of the thing shivers in my mind’s eye with the clarity of flat screen TV or a hundred dollar meal seen from outside the restaurant window. I roll it across the tip of my tongue like single Malt Scotch; like some sweet daring confection. I can see it, larger than life—a shining Buddha. I want to believe I can make it happen—NOW.