Mystic is now King of the Horse Pedestal. He assumed his title several days ago, after three weeks of sniffing and pawing at the pedestal, occasionally resting one hoof on top as if waiting for a pedicure.
During those weeks I wondered if I should prod him in some way. People offered suggestions: “Give him a gentle nudge on the butt with the progress stick.” “Tap him on the inside front leg.” “Use treats as reinforcement.”
In the end, as always, Mystic did it his way and in his own time. One second he was contemplating the pedestal; next he hefted his left foot up, then his right, magically elevating his front end. Suddenly he was huge. He looked like a statue you might find in Trafalgar Square with a brigadier general astride him.
I felt as proud as when my son took his first steps twenty-one years ago. I looked in Mystic’s eyes and saw pride beamed back at me: there was enough good feeling to fill up a hot-air balloon and float it high above the clouds.
Margaret, a boarder at Fiore Farms, witnessed our moment from afar. She sent her daughter Grace over with a treat for Mystic, who’d stepped off the pedestal. Looking a tad dazed by the scope of his accomplishment, he chewed ruminatively on the horse cookie. I tried to get him to repeat his new trick, but no luck. I wondered how long before he’d show his stuff again.
I didn’t have to wait long. The next evening Mystic mounted the pedestal like an old pro; this time Angela, mom of 12-year-old boarder Amanda, documented the moment on video. I held my breath, hoping Mystic would hold the pose long enough for a good photo or two after the videotaping.
There was no need to worry.
Mystic stayed on the pedestal with a distant, triumphant gloss in his eyes. He seemed to be having an extended Zen moment in which he visited past lives—battlefield triumphs, levades at the Spanish Riding School, perhaps even Alexander the Great on his back.
Mystic was so into his majestic pose that I decided to do some manure-gathering to pass the time. When I left the arena to get the bucket and manure scoop, he craned his neck backward—but he didn’t leave his post. Like disgraced US President Richard Nixon, he wasn’t going to step down easily.
Kings have all day to sit on their thrones, and statues rest on their pedestals for eternity—but in my more modest world, other things need doing. After fifteen minutes passed, I gently asked Mystic to step off the pedestal: he exited his Zen paradise with good grace and remarkable agility. He faced me attentively, ready to embark on the next adventure. King Mystic was a commoner again, but a spark of royalty lingered in his eyes.