This is another short that I wrote for my Creative Nonfiction course. The theme was season and/or time of day.
In my childhood, dawn was a mystery to me; a time of day when the world looked gray and felt cold. Most days, I avoided greeting the dawn, preferring to sleep until the Price is Right came on television and Spaghetti-Os could pass for a late breakfast or early lunch. However, a dozen or so times a year, I chose to wake up before the sun had risen, for the purpose of spending the entire day on horseback.
As a fourth-generation competitive trail rider, I loved every part of the ride, including the early morning preparatory routine. When I slipped my mare’s blanket off of her back, her body would steam from her withers to her haunches. By the time I finished saddling her, my fingers were stiff from pulling the cold leather straps and fastening the bitter metal buckles. I had to stretch before mounting to get the blood flow back in my legs and feet, which were frozen by the pre-dawn mist in the air and the dew seeping up between grass, hay, and manure.
Once I had finally mounted my horse, we began to melt into one being. As we stood waiting for the signal to begin the ride, I would squeeze close to her body and lean over her neck. Her sides thawed the insides of my calves, and her neck warmed my stiff fingers. Just as I relied on her for warmth, she relied on me for guidance. We intertwined our bodies and minds, and rode out together onto the trail, no longer a girl and a mare, but a team.