Duke and Dolly are old horses. I don't know how old, or what kind of horses they are. They came to me as "Amish ponies from Iowa" and they follow the voice commands used by Amish teamsters. Marks and scars on their bodies tell the story of hard work. A lot of hard work.
They have given me a bodily sense of the horse in history. Not the recreational riding horses I was familiar with, but the blood and bone that plowed, carted, and pulled throughout my own cultural history. I grew up reading Black Beauty, a book about a sometimes cruel horse-drawn world.
Duke and Dolly are not in their prime, not fit for the hours of hard labor that a larger farm would require. Here, the need for soil tillage is small. And the need for heart-healing is large. I can buy their vitamins and give massages and gentle walks. I can give back to history. l can make a small gesture to all the horses who have suffered and died for humans. The experience of the larger HORSE is crystallized through my own choices around these particular ponies. I can't change history. I can only treat these two as I wish all others were treated.