A few weeks ago, I heard about a new book coming out: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. If you haven’t heard about it, here’s the basic idea: a dystopian society in a land called Shima (based off of feudal Japan) with Steampunk technology and mythical creatures. Yukiko, the main character, is sent by her Shogun (a singularly evil man) to capture an arashitora (griffin, basically). This novel touched me deeply, and my post is going to contain some SPOILERS, so be warned.
Yukiko and the arashitora, whom she names Buruu, spend a lot of time together, developing a bond. This process is, of course, helped by the fact that Yukiko is slightly psychic and can speak to Buruu mind-to-mind. Because their minds touch, the longer they spend together the more each bleeds into the other- Buruu gains some of Yukiko’s qualities while Yukiko gains some of his, and over the course of their journey they become one mind with two bodies. The descriptions of the two of them in battle left me absolutely beathless, and very nostalgic.
I know what it’s like to be that close to something- I had that unity with my horse, Aki. Certainly there’s a difference between wheeling and diving and attacking your enemies in battle and racing around a pattern of fences hoping for the best time, but that feeling of connectedness was there. When I thought of turning, he turned- without the delay of the usual cue-to-response. I thought and he did. I’m so lucky to have had that connection so early in my life. I know many riders go their entire career without ever truly experiencing it.
While I am afraid that I will never again meet a horse with which I can achieve this unity, I am very glad to just know that it exists. It gives me something to strive for, a reason to work with even the most difficult horses, because I know exactly what we can be capable of if we just work hard enough.