Fate would have it that, while I was living in Italy this year, the horses decided to dismantle the t-posts and hotwire round pen I had constructed in their field. It did cross my mind that this demonstration was a kind of political statement, coming from them. It wasn’t too difficult a feat since I never hooked up a battery to the hotwire, rendering it something akin to a lot of yarn and three bored cats. When I returned, I found a ring of mostly cockeyed t-posts barely visible amidst the field of horseweed that had grown up around them – cockeyed because the dismantling process apparently included removing everything, but lacking hands, the horses succeeded in only bending the metal posts in various directions.
I immediately set about the daunting task of pulling all the weeds in a 40-foot diameter circle and pondering how to best reconstruct the round pen without actually purchasing anything. My attention kept being drawn back to the four stacks of discarded wooden pallets just outside the fence line. I imagined that wooden pallets might make an aesthetically pleasing structure, and if I placed them over t-posts, they might be fairly durable. What I did not imagine was exactly how heavy pallets actually are to carry.
My stamina allowed me to put up one per day of the required eight to create the basic octagonal frame. Early on, I came up with a novel idea, only partially inspired by the weight of the pallets and the exhausting task of pounding t-posts: why not leave the round pen open between pallets, creating the idea of the round pen without making it something the horse was forced to stay inside? In this way, I could experiment with inviting the horses to be in the round pen with me, to keep their interest enough to stay and even to free lunge. Practicing one’s connection and energetic commitment would be taken to another level when the horse could opt out.
Today, my friend, Mike, volunteered to help me put up the final two pallets. I was ecstatic to behold the completed Stonehenge-like pallet structure. When Mike first heard my description of the structure, he suggested I call it “Woodhenge.” When he saw how excited I was to stand in the completed circle of cast-off pallets and bent old t-posts, he dubbed it “Pallet Palace.”
After Mike left, I walked out toward Pallet Palace to admire it, and to see if the horses would even take interest. Standing in the center, feeling the sun on my right cheek and the December breeze on my left, I realized I must be facing somewhat North. Within three minutes, all three horses had entered the circle, one on each side of me close to the perimeter, and Taj standing just in front of me. I dropped to the ground to sit and enjoy the moment. Taj dropped to the ground almost immediately, facing me and letting out a deep sigh. She drifted off into a dream, conjuring for me feelings of peace, comfort and safety. The four of us stayed in those same spots together inside that circle for at least twenty minutes. Ravens called to us with their confident voices. Vultures soared overhead, circling in an upward spiral until they were two black specks in the white sun. By this time I was lying on my back, soaking in the feeling of being sure.