I live on a small ranch with a number of other boarders, both human and equine. I recently got permission to walk Shadow, because his human is ill and hasn’t been out for weeks. So for the past few days, my morning routine is this:

  • rise before the sun (don’t want to miss the colors!)
  • dress warmly and eat
  • put on my knit hat, rubber stable boots, yellow windbreaker, and walk down to the corrals
  • remove Kady’s hay bin insert so P doesn’t have to struggle with it later
  • mix up Cisko’s pellets and vitamins with veggie oil and pour it into his bin
  • close Magic’s gate so he’s penned in
  • open the arena gate
  • halter Shadow and open his gate
  • walk him down to the arena and around

It’s wonderful! He’s a love, it’s quiet at sunrise, and usually I have the place to myself. Shadow sniffs around, and visits with the horses in the adjoining corrals. After he’s caught up on the ranch gossip, we walk around the arena, then I ask him to walk in circles around me, which is called lunging or longeing (pronounced lunge-ing).

But today, after several minutes of circles, I get frustrated. What I really want to do is ride. What Shadow really wants to do is graze, run around,and amble out into the state park that abuts the ranch. But he doesn’t “belong” to me. And he needs exercise, so we continue: circle circle circle — stop — change direction — circle circle circle.

When I hear humans moving around the ranch, we walk back up to Shadow’s paddock. I’m irritated, but don’t know why yet.

Back in my warm studio I realize that I don’t agree with how a lot of humans treat horses. It’s disrespectful. Whips and bits and ropes and scare tactics. Show ’em who’s boss! Make ’em do what you want ’em to do! Even some of the so-called “natural horsemanship” folks have domination on the brain.

How fun is that? Forcing another creature to do what you want, regardless of his/her desires or needs? Isn’t that Fascism?

The U.S. presidential election was a bitter disappointment, to put it mildly. I want a woman president! As a kid, I campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment, which has never passed. We need ovaries in the Oval Office!

But evidently any dick will do. God forfend a better qualified, more intelligent, highly experienced and skilled woman take the job! Misogyny in action.

Rebecca Traister, author of All the Single Ladies: unmarried women and the rise of an independent nation has this to say about institutionalized inequality:

“Men, and especially married wealthy white men, have long relied on government assistance. It’s the government that has historically supported white men’s home and business ownership through grants, loans, incentives, and tax breaks. It has allowed them to accrue wealth and offered them shortcuts and bonuses for passing it down to their children. Government established white men’s right to vote and thus exert control over the government at the nation’s founding and has protected their enfranchisement since. It has also bolstered the economic and professional prospects of men by depressing the economic prospects of women: by failing to offer women equivalent economic and civic protections, thus helping to create conditions whereby women were forced to be dependent on those men, creating a gendered class of laborers who took low paying or unpaid jobs doing the domestic and childcare work that further enabled men to dominate public spheres.”

These wealthy white men who constantly decry the “welfare state” have been the major beneficiaries of the good ol’ boy network (aka government assistance) for centuries!

One of my human neighbors just knocked on the door. “A and L are coming over Sunday evening, we’re gonna work on some songs,” she said, guitar slung on her back. She has an amazing voice, low and gorgeous. A and L are also talented musicians. We all sang together at the Halloween party.

“I used to be in a band,” I say, “in Seattle.” Mozart’s Children, we called ourselves, which strikes me now as highly pretentious. But we gigged. And I loved it. We did a cover of the Stones’ “Far Away Eyes,” with me singing lead. A highlight of my life.

“Great,” says my neighbor, “you’re in the band. Women only. Girl power. The Central Coast Women’s Rock Band.”

I nod in the affirmative. Action, baby. I’m ready for it.

writer Elizabeth Shé
writer Elizabeth Shé

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