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Fear Comes From Without

“I could feel her slightly shaky. I saw her tilt her head, looking downward before promptly stepping aside. That’s how Sally Carter, my little bay mare of solid provenance but rather vague use, moved: quickly, forward — and sideways. She sensed threatening beasts beneath the sha- dowy leaves of each tree branch, and imagined mean sticks everywhere. I loved riding her bareback because I could read her thoughts through our physical contact. No assurance from me could convince her that the world beyond her stall wasn’t filled with countless dangers. Finally, I started riding her with a stick; and each time I could feel her about to shy away — about every 30 steps – I restrained her and smacked her lightly on her sides with my crop. She didn’t like it. Gradually, she began to look into the shadows more attentively, curling in a bit, hesita- ting between the unknown menace she couldn’t see or the whack on the side to come. Eventually, the sketch of a miracle appeared: like the morning fog, the fear of the out- side (the “without”) lifted slowly. Branches moving in the sun were nothing more than branches moving in the sun. Finally, she relaxed. When I first met her, it would’ve been unthinkable for her to adapt to a polo mallet whirling around her head. But it did happen! And she became an outstanding polo poney, the “fear of without” now simply a controlled memory.”