Two years ago, I found a trail-riding place just south of here. Since then I've ridden about once a month, and today was the first time for the new year.
We have to cut across the paddocks to reach the forest, but once we're in there, anything's possible. Wallabies, wild pigs, river crossings, settlers' graves, trail bike riders, mines—anything.
What he wants is, always and only, to win the race.
There in the forest his easy gait soothed us both. The bracken stood out painfully green in the grey afternoon. There was silence but for hoof fall, bird call and, occasionally, a sigh.
We rode back to the yard over a golden paddock dappled with kangaroos—many joeys, some folded into their mothers' pouches, others rocking away across the mown grass like fine, grey boomerangs. Beyond them, free horses galloped and played, racing the riders to the house against a fuzzy backdrop of bush.
When we got back to the yard and Brian, the owner, showed me how to take off the tack, Tawny stood stoic as I fumbled with the buckles, his darks eyes fixed on the forest.
I stepped back, the saddle in my arms, smiling.
And yet he waited, white against the sky, still as evening air.