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Running With Horses

Friday, April 22, 2011

This sounds like the title of a bad coming-of-age movie, but I mean it literally.  On Tuesday I found myself racing a cow uphill (I won), and as it zigzagged in panic, I thought, seriously, I had better be faster than a dairy cow.  Actually I was worried that it would run so far away that it wouldn’t be able to find its way back, but in the end, it ran downhill with me the first time, and then as I was heading back to town, it ran uphill and ended up about where it started.  I’ve also raced a first-grader on a bike, but that’s not hard to explain.

Now, I’ve seen horses when I’m running before.  A few times I’ve passed groups of horses grazing, who look over their shoulder at me, and then go back to munching.  After all, they have a lot more experience with humans than I have with horses.  And there was a horse with the cow on Tuesday, who also ran down the hill and then back up it, seeming to eventually decide to “hide” from behind a tree– this is like me playing hide and go seek as a toddler, with my head under a pillow, and my enormous diaper-padded body sticking out.

Snow, April 22.

But today was different.  First of all, it snowed.  No, this is not a crazy spring fluke– this is the beginning of winter.  Again.  It didn’t accumulate at all here, but it was snowing heavily an hour away where our sister company has a property, enough that all of the guides evacuated to Palena, as they are leaving for Santiago tomorrow and feared getting snowed in.  Sure, I’m great with the fire, and with a sweater and fleece and tea inside, I’m toasty, but it’s hard to stomach that this is only the beginning.  On the other hand, the house takes on a magical coziness when it’s cold outside, so it feels perfectly justified to make oatmeal cookies and read a novel, as I did yesterday afternoon; or today, to wake up at eleven, eat leftover curried chickpeas and potatoes, drink tea and read recipe blogs and cook black bean soup with beets all morning.  Well, by morning, I mean until 3 PM, when I decided to go out for a run.

Here’s the thing about running these days: I don’t really care about being fast.  That is to say, after four years of a varsity sport, this casual working out thing is a luxury, but also confusing.  And while I do some push-ups or Pilates or yoga, I do miss a gym, spinning, lifting, classes, and so on.  Somehow my goal here is to run three times a week, though it often winds up being two.  So far, I am surprisingly unbored by my two routes, but I fear that will set in.  More than anything, what gets in the way of running, especially in the week, is being too busy, especially now that I have added two evening commitments– Wednesday high school elective class, 7:00 – 8:00 Thursday adult class 7:30 – 8:30.  You see, I eat a big meal at 1 or 2, and then work until 6 or so, and then it starts getting dark.

And of course, there’s the rain and the cold.  But on a day like today, I was starting to get computer glaze, and I new that heading outside would feel good.  And it was wonderful, despite my camera banging against my hip from the pocket of my fleece vest.  BUT WAIT– running with horses.  So I saw I horse ahead of me, no big deal.  I took a picture.  As I got closer, he started running away from me, and I kept running, with a steady gaze in front of me, on the other side of the road from the horse, who eventually stopped and let me pass, just like other times.  As I was coming back, same story– at first the horse just watched, but when I got closer, he starting running ahead of me, and I eventually passed.  But then, I heard hoofsteps again, and it was the horse running towards me!  I tried not to be scared, but my pulse and my stride picked up just from the noise, the sheer size of this strong animal running behind me.  It didn’t seem aggressive, and the horse pretty much kept the distance between us, apparently matching my pace.  Was he trying to play?  I don’t know, but when he eventually stopped and I continued on, I was relieved and also somehow disappointed.

Stage 1: Horse doesn't care about me.

Stage 2: Horse running away from me.

Sometimes my life here is pretty normal– work, cooking, seeing friends, spending time on the internet.  But then there are things like running with horses and chopping wood that I am pretty sure none of my friends at home are dealing with.  These are the kinds of things that make living here both absurd and cozy, familiar and bizarre.  These may well be the things I miss when I am gone.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Donna permalink
    Friday, April 22, 2011 10:24 pm

    As my mother would say… “I don’t care if he followed you home! You cannot keep him!”

  2. jane woodman permalink
    Saturday, April 23, 2011 1:00 pm

    Along with your animal company the views are spectacular!

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