Yep. He's going back to being called the Big K. Here on the Chronicles, that's who he is -- but we know.
We held our cow by a whisker on her nose. She ducked and turned and Madonna was suddenly scrambling. We had barely caught up, barely saved our position, when it happened again, Madaonna was turning late, her weight shifted to her front end and as she was pulled herself across our line, completely losing the ability to snap through our next turn. Her head came up, my anxiety came with it and leapt ahead of us both.
I lifted my reins and Madonna came off her cow with obvious relief. I waited for her to settle before I looked to K and heard what he had to say.
"What were you thinking?" His tone was even, his question, as usual, literal.
"Something like, AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!" I said.
K rolled his eyes and he smiled a little. "I meant before you created that mess."
"What?...I'm not sure."
"Well, think on it." He sat quiet in the middle of his saddle, his bright blue eyes intent on mine. We weren't going anywhere until I worked this through.
I broke his hold and looked back at the dirt, thinking hard. "First I was just riding, then I started liking what was happening, then I wondered if I turned on the crock pot this morning, and then Clare drifted through...and I was behind."
"I could see it in your eyes about two beats before the horse felt it," he said. "As soon as she tried to find you she fell a step behind. The cow picked up on it and took advantage -- you were so far away you didn't feel it until everything was out of control."
"How can you see it when I don't even know it's happening?"
"It's in your eyes. One second you're riding, your eyes are taking in the whole deal, then I can just see those outside thoughts come in. I just don't get how you let that happen. How can you be in the middle of a cow and start thinking about a crock pot?"
"I don't mean for it to happen, it just shows up, then I start worrying about why it's there and I'm still not on my ride."
K shook his head, letting the full, sorrowful, "I just don't know how to get through to you," look wash over me. I immediately felt guilty and useless, and very aware of my lack of Marlborough man genes. Suburban. Housewifey. Ugh.
This mind reading thing, the way we spoke without words, was so unnerving. K could tell how I was feeling by the way I drove up to the tack room in the morning. I could read his mood as I led a horse down the barn aisle, even if he was out of sight, pulling the blanket off a horse in a stall.
We shared a birthday and an OCD passion for the mechanics of a cowhorse. There was more though, we could find each other across a crowded warm-up arena at a horse show. K could coach me with no words spoken. I could hear him shouting clear as a bell in my head. "Step up! Look up! Make it happen, quit hoping it might!" Worse yet, I could feel the waves of disappointment or disapproval, right in the middle of my fence run, piercing through my thoughts of AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! and, Wonder what I should make for dinner?
He could walk past me after a run gone wrong, from a mistake on his part, and know I had felt it the second he had let the colt jump into those sloppy spins or try to dive into his turn on the fence. Not because I saw it, he was too good at covering and recovering in the show pen for me to pick it out, but I always felt the change in his mindset, felt the slap of disappointment in himself. Sometimes he hated me, just a little, because I knew.
What the heck was it? Twin brothers from a different mother was all I could come up with...
I jumped a little and Madonna started, scattering the cattle.
"You can't even hold a conversation today. I'm not wasting my cattle on you when you're like this. You have got to find a way to hold your focus when you've got a horse working. I know you can, I've seen it. Go get on a colt or two, make it something froggy so you'll get your mind back. We'll see where you're at on the cows tomorrow."
I sighed, and left the arena, he was right. A skittery colt might bring me to ground, although I was pretty good at wondering who was getting eliminated from Idol tonight while wrestling some bucky little baby around.
I headed toward the two-year-olds and made sure I pulled a couple froggy ones.