I am walking near Central Park and I see her. A beautiful white mare pulling a carriage. Inside are two fat tourists in ugly shorts, eating corn dogs and pointing. This is their idea of romance. The horse is reluctant because the taxi cabs next to her are honking and she wants to stop. Her driver whips her back. I shout at the top of my lungs, over the traffic, over the pollution, “Shame on you!” The driver gives me the finger. I watch with helpless rage as her old, white, thick legs disappear around the city street, pulling and pulling. 

I am watching Game of Thrones, curled up in my husband’s lap. Someone’s head got cut off. Someone’s hand got cut off. Someone’s dick got cut off. I want to lose myself in Peter Dinklage’s eyes but I am screaming because the horses are screaming, their lips pulled back, their eyes wide, their fear reaching out from the TV screen and grabbing me. My husband whispers, “Shh, it’s okay. They are just pretending.” But I’ve never heard of Horse Acting School. How will I know for sure that they are loved once the cameras stop rolling? They do not know that the battle is fake.

I am reading about President Obama. How he blocked the resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S., and how I want to kiss him for it, and how many people have been fighting to bring it back. Even though domestic slaughter ended in 2007 for good reasons. Even though horses are still being sent across our borders into Canada and Mexico for consumption, and it’s brought them disgrace. Even though the meat itself has been proven unsafe, and the methods of murder abhorrent. We are becoming increasingly skilled at destroying life. 

I think of BJ, the first horse I ever road on an unpaved road in Burnet, Texas. I was ten years old. He was sensitive and social and intelligent, less skittish than the other horses. As my fellow campers and I sang songs about Life Savers candy and baked under the hot, dry sun, I felt lastima for BJ. For him having to haul my ass around. For his use and function, how it measured his worth. For the kindness in his eyes. I wanted to look into his eyes, not sit up high behind them, not make him do things, but to stare until I understood his secrets. I wanted to hold him, to place my little arms around his proud neck, and to be his friend. 

Not his driver or his director or his butcher, but his friend.

p.s. If you really get and communicate with horses, then you are an earth angel.