A pony is not a horse. I don’t want to believe it. I imagine all horses out of existence so long as there is still room for ponies. A pony is a horse but in miniature. A pony is low to the ground and less likely to throw my daughter from its back if she digs her heels in too deep. A pony is a horse whose height is below four hands at the withers. I read this and I do not know where a horse’s withers is located but I hold up my hand and examine it. I wonder whose hand sets the standard, whose hand gets to be the judge. I want it to be that of my daughter’s outstretched hand, the short fat fingers of an eager toddler reaching for me to lift her onto the pony’s body. Then it would be safe. If it were only that high off the ground, I would not have to hold my breath through every circle. I could smile like all the other moms. I could believe that a future might be hers.
Deaf horses. Anorexic horses. Menstruating horses. Horses with lethal white skin. None of these horses come in miniature. None of these horses were the kind that threw my sister.
Equinophobia is what I have. I say this even though I have not been officially diagnosed, which is unfortunate. I wonder if there is a pill for my condition, a therapy maybe that would allow me to admire a horse’s grace and magnificence even as it stands still while sleeping despite the power to inflict harm that is housed in its hind legs. Therapy blogs tell me to desensitize myself, to start by watching videos of horses until I grow comfortable with the idea of a horse. Once comfortable with the idea, I should be able to ease into real life contact with one, at least that is what the therapist blogger proclaims. The therapist blogger does not mention ponies but posts links to videos of horses to aid in the desensitization process. It does not help. Adorable Horse Moments, 3,000,000 views. Raising a Horse for the Day, 1,900,000 views. Draft Horse Breeding, 975,000 views. Zebra and Horse Meeting, 693,000 views.
I read once that riding a horse can deliver the negative electrons of the earth up into my body to equalize my positive charge. This assumes a lot. This assumes that the pleasure center of my brain isn’t fried, that my body won’t spin out of control, that I won’t fall like my sister did. This assumes I can forgive the animal for not being a pony when it mattered most. This assumes that the horse is not tired of shouldering all the blame.
-- Jami Kimbrell is a mother of four and a trial attorney practicing in Tallahassee, Florida. Her short fiction has appeared in Word Riot, Vestal Review, New South Journal, Tin House Online, Fiction Southeast, Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and the Masters Review among others. Her poetry has appeared in Birdcoat Quarterly and her Nonfiction has appeared in Tahoma Literary Review.