Buddy is a blond beauty with bangs like a Norwegian child. He has long, delicate, feminine eyelashes, enormous brown eyes; his coat glows a deep gold. A Haflinger, his chest forms a smooth, all-muscle shield, and he can turn in a tight, complete circle so quickly it seems like a trick. He radiates a controlled power. Occasionally I stand up and stroke his nose which is as soft as cashmere.
I’ve come to the stable on this sunny-thunderstormy spring day to sit with him and to read. Raising my head, I can look out of the big, sliding open doors and into a framed, pastoral view like a Constable – I see tall trees with deep, lime-green and gold leaves; towering cumulous clouds drift in and out of the frame. Blue sky reveals itself in rips. Chipping sparrows and house finches, building nests and unaware of me, loop in and out of our sight. Buddy’s ears, the clue to where his eyes focus, like directional beacons, follow the finches in the heavy vine overflowing into an open side door.
With company, Buddy is quieter and calmer than a dog, less hurried, with no desire to please or be off somewhere. He crunches his hay, turns to the sound of the de-humidifier clicking on, and listens intently to riders going past along the fence line. Mostly though he snuffles and stands over me as I read, breathing evenly, content to have company. He wears a long, Viking mane thrown over both sides of his neck. He has a soulful face.
I like the musky, earthy smells of the stable and Buddy’s calm companionship. I can understand why farmers sometimes built their barns connected to their homes so that cows, mules and oxen, goats and donkeys and horses could stand in an interior stall window, their big heads joining the buzz of the family.
I’ve brought nothing to the stable except a book, and I spend more time at rest, looking around, than I do reading. Everything goes quiet inside — for both of us I think.