by DiVoran Lites
Chapter Twenty Two
The next morning, they led the horses down from the line cabin and got home in time to do their regular chores. Kenny put his horse away and went back to town to help his folks with their many enterprises.
That night, Aldon dropped onto his cot in the loft and slept like a dog. By five a. m., he was shaved and ready to meet Ellie in the kitchen. Today would be different. They would shorten their coffee time and head for the corral where he would show her how he trained horses.
He mentally thanked Molly’s Daddo (grandfather) from County Cork who had taught the Leitzinger sons about horses. Once they’d learned all he could teach them, he called them Sullivans after a relative of his, the first known horse whisperer in Ireland long ago. Aldon wondered who had come up with the words horse whisperer. A good trainer used the technique of understanding them by watching the ways in which they responded to people and other animals. American Indians had developed similar traditions since they’d been introduced to the horse by the Spanish. Aldon shook his head thinking about the horses that had been tormented and injured over the years in the name of breaking them when the gentle truly was the best way for everyone.
Asking Ellie to wait outside the corral, Aldon went into the barn to get the horses. When he shooed them out, they trotted to the other side of the corral and stood shuffling their feet and looking at him.
He checked to see where Ellie was and was impressed with how well the golden color of the Palominos complimented Ellie’s blond beauty. At that moment he wanted nothing more than to stand and stare like a love struck youth, but he knew Ellie would rather have him get on with the job at hand. Suddenly he knew how important it was to make Ellie happy. Whatever she wants, he thought, she gets. Now and always.
Aldon took a long line from his pocket, and holding one end began tossing the end of it in the direction of the mare and foal. As it floated downward in their direction they began to canter around the inside of the corral trying to get away from it, their white manes and tails flowing in the breeze they created. Aldon knew that instinct compelled them to run before they looked back to see what was chasing them.
As he circled slowly and watched the animals, music began to play in Aldon’s head as it so often did when he was working. The song this time was, “The Emperor’s Waltz, a perfect three-quarter rhythm for the canter. He had learned it from one of the few records Nancy bought for the wind-up Victrola. No one else in his family had this strange quirk, but he enjoyed the tunes his mind served up, they always seemed appropriate somehow. It must be the sub-conscious he had learned about in college that caused it.
Never having been abused by man, the Palominos had nothing to unlearn. As he shortened his line bringing them closer to him in the center of the corral, the dam slowed down and started licking her lips and making chewing motions. She dropped her head which told him that she was looking for a friend now, someone to help her in a terrifying situation. It was time to put the line away along with his aggressive stance and became more approachable. He turned his back, let his shoulders slump slightly, and became a figure of welcome and comfort. The less attention he gave her the closer she came. He turned sideways ignoring her, but one of her ears twisted in his direction showing she was aware of his presence and valued it. The minute the mare stopped moving the colt began to nurse. She ignored him and touched Aldon’s back with her nose.
He shifted to make a slow turn to face the horse and then scratched the long bone of her nose and told her what a good girl she was. In a moment, he quietly asked Ellie to bring the rope halter to him. She nodded and came through a narrow opening between the gate and the rails to give him the halter. He slipped it over the horse’s head and handed the end of it to Ellie.
“She’s all yours, happy birthday. Walk her around,” he said. Ellie’s eyes widened and she gave him a delighted smile. He knew she couldn’t speak for fear of startling the horse, but it didn’t matter. He had a warm feeling in his chest knowing he had made her happy.