Thursday, February 24, 2011
Before I was in a position to buy my own horse, I would rent one at a stable near Griffith Park. Dolly. Dolly had one blue eye and one brown. She had a high proud neck and a high butt, with a slender Arab frame.
I rode Dolly bareback, all up and down the trails. Sometimes in company, sometimes not. Every time I visited the stable the same guy would be there. “Dolly?” he’d ask. Yes, Dolly. He’d bridle her up, give me a leg up, and off we’d go.
I wanted to own Dolly, oh so badly. Clearly, she hadn’t always been a string horse. She could do all sorts of stuff, like the fancy trot, or flying lead changes with a quarter inch lift to the rein. Sometimes we’d just do a lazy walk and I’d drape myself over her neck, bury my nose in her sweaty smells of alfalfa and molasses.
Dolly always held me on her back as though she were balancing a crystal glass, one filled to the brim with fine champagne. And she never spilled a drop. I trusted her completely. Her every step was honest, thrilling, kind.
Truth be told, I almost married a guy, just so he’d buy my Dolly. And maybe I should have – as life’s bargains go, I’ve done worse.
One day I went to the stable and my regular guy was gone. “I want to ride Dolly,” I said. And they brought out a palomino quarter. “No, that’s not Dolly.” So they went back and brought some other stranger. “No, no.”
“Well Miss, we probably have other Dollys. Why not take a look?”
So I walked the shed rows. My girl was gone.
“I don’t know, Miss. Maybe something happened. Or maybe someone bought her. Sometimes that happens.”
When I bought my own horse, Vandy, one thing I made clear to the two of us from the very start: Even if we weren’t a match made in heaven (and we weren’t), even if she didn’t prove to be a trustworthy friend (and she didn’t), I’d never let her go (and I haven’t). I promised Vandy, even if she threw me, bucked me off, even if we disagreed on some very basic philosophies, I’d never give her up. No one would ever call her Dolly.