Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! ! Horses For Courses - Poem by Michael Shepherd

See them at the starting-gate:
impatient horses tossing their bridled heads,
rearing, backing, snorting;
silk-bright riders patient;
how have they attained this race?

they’ve shared a fortitude, horse and rider together:
out at dawn in all weathers, focussed, thundering
down and round the beaten, scuffed-soil track;
never a slack training session;

they share – without a common language
save that of the heart – their discipline;
share that rare sense of unity
once forged in battle, now in peaceful excellence;

‘they’re off! ’ – the race begun;
all around, the watchers shouting, jumping, waving race-cards;
the rider, in the camera’s eye,
so calm; invisibly controlling;

amidst all this excited noise,
they are the quietest;
amidst all this galloping,
they are the stillest in their mind;

yet who knows a horse’s mind,
to say what’s patiently endured,
the daily training, bridle, bit and whip;
or what’s sheer exultation for a horse?
or where the discipline and freedom meet?

who knows what may be horse’s sheer contentment?
knows what contentment may exceed
that of horse being horse? …
as rider knows, that, win or lose, he’s done his best,
for himself and for the horse..

what do horse and rider share
between themselves, that’s
never spoken? For, see: each,
a clear and shining eye..

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Poem Submitted: Friday, June 6, 2008

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