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  • After all, Nick ended up at Joe's place. Nick is nearly black but not quite and has a tight arched neck and a scraggle of a mane. His feet are chipped and slightly wrecked, and his back legs look bumpy and swollen. He's plump and loved now, by a good cowboy and little girls at the riding school, but Nick is also broken.

    Nick holds his breath when I ride him, and I spend a lot of my time with him stroking his neck, telling him he's a good boy. He trots around in a bunched up bundle, barely breathing, and I wonder if he was ridden by many people who did not understand how feather-sensitive he is. I love that he nickers (I call him Nicker most days instead of Nick) deeply at the mares as he goes by, a rumble of a greeting from deep in his barrel, as if he's telling them to pay attention, he was something once.

    It is when I begin to jump Nick over small fences that he transforms. I point him to the small obstacle, no more than 2 feet high, and his ears swivel around, radar facing forward. I feel his whole body saying, "Now, can I? Can I? Now?" and then I release him and for that instant Nick is not broken. Nick can fly.

    (Photo by Joe Fernandez)
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