How would you interpret this?

I am among the least superstitious people on the planet. I don’t really do lucky things. I have things that I like, and things that I have imbued with meaning, but I don’t think the world will go wrong if I don’t have rituals, objects, or anything else that I feel blesses my endeavor. (My husband, on the other hand, has elaborate charts that he uses to keep track of what jerseys he was wearing when his sports teams win or lose so that he can make sure he gets it “right.”)

I’m not in the slightest bit religious, either. I don’t really care whether ghosts exist or not. I’m really kind of boringly pragmatic in a lot of ways. I like to work hard and figure things out and love the things that I love, and mysteries that can never be solved are kind of boring to me.

I tell you this mostly as context to the story I’m about to relate to you, so you can understand how weird it is.

Maybe a month ago, Tristan’s pasture mate was euthanized. He was in his 30s, and he had the variety of health problems you’d expect from an ageing horse. He was exquisitely well cared-for and much loved, but he was getting increasingly neurological. Getting up and down the hills of the farm was hard for him, and getting harder.

I can’t stress enough how hard everyone worked to keep him comfortable and how lovingly the final decision was made. The barn manager brought him out to handgraze with Tristan for a while so they could say goodbye. They’ve been turned out together reliably for a few years now, because they had similar needs for grass (type and/or lack of), because Tristan doesn’t play hard, and because they were just calm and happy together. So it was lovely that they got to say goodbye.

Tristan rarely gets attached to other horses. He has some horses that he likes, especially longtime pasture buddies, but he’s never been a horse to make instant best friends on a trailer, for example, and he’s always been perfectly happy to be turned out alone when that ends up being his situation. For a horse that spent his formative years running wild in a herd, he has an awful lot of loner-like tendencies. I’ve always thought that if I did bring him home with me someday, he’d be content and happy alone for quite a while.

That’s just more context for you.

On Monday, I took Tristan out for a long walk around the field. Nothing taxing at all; just a walk with some nice trots up hills. We’ve circled this field I don’t even know how many dozens of times.

At the end of our ride, we were coming up the last bit of hill, and he was on a loose rein, and he scooted forward, hard and fast. It wasn’t really a spook or a bolt. It was a short launch, a stride or two of energy and alertness. I didn’t even have time to pick up the reins, just sat it with my seat, and he came back to a walk by himself. I thought that it was the new trailers that were parked at the top of the hill, though those had been quite visible for our entire walk up the hill and were no surprise.

I walked him around the trailers a bit, and he was alert but not bratty. Then he stopped and let out a long, loud, neigh. Really long. Really loud. Then again. I was totally baffled – he’s also not a vocal horse. Mustangs rarely are. There were no other horses in sight, no other people, no other animals. Nothing at all.

I was confused but shrugged, and we turned for home. As we were leaving the hill, he called out again, long and loud. This time, there was a horse in the outdoor, so I guessed he’d been calling to her. It’s a mare that he’s never actually “met,” though they’ve been ridden in the ring together maybe two or three times. Still really weird for him to be calling for her, but I guessed that’s what happened.

As I dismounted, a thought occurred to me, and I walked into the barn and poked my head into the tack room for the barn manager.

“Hey S,” I said. “Where is Pari buried?”

I knew generally where the barn buried horses, but S. described to me a spot precisely where Tristan had had his first scoot.

I’m not sure what to think. S. was very close to Pari and thought that Tristan saw something. That’s comforting for her, and it really is a lovely thought. But it’s so far outside of how I usually interpret things that I’m just not sure. Most of my practical brain just thinks he smelled that other horse, or he just had a weird whim.

What do you think?

14 thoughts on “How would you interpret this?

  1. Sometimes I think they know a friend is gone, but they can't quite believe it and want to be sure. Red with with Cash at the retirement farm when Cash was PTS last year, then about two months later Red came back to live with us. He KNEW Cash was gone, but as soon as he got off the trailer he started calling and looking for… someone. We think he was looking for Cash. It went on for about 2 days but eventually I think he realized that Cash wasn't here either.

    So yeah. It's like they know but they want to be sure? Like maybe it's not really true. I dunno, it's sad and sweet.


  2. Horses are amazing beings. Hard to tell what he reacted to but I do know that occasionally when we were growing up we'd ride our horses through a historic cemetery. All of the graves had been there for a LONG time and our very steady horses would get really spooky as we rode there. One time they even both stopped and refused to go forward and they were looking at a spot directly in front of us. After that we stopped riding there.


  3. For the scoot I would assume it was because the footing was weird. If the ground was dug up to bury the horse it makes sense that it might feel a little unstable underfoot if it wasn't packed down enough


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