IT WAS a full moon the other night, and somehow it seemed to bring with it a small oasis of calm in the weeks of somewhat wild and unpredictable weather we’ve been having in the Northern Rivers.
I look forward to full moons, because a while ago my daughter and I made a pact that we would try our best to do something different on a full moon, or – her school work and my writing permitting – a few nights either side. In the past four or five months we’ve driven into the macadamia forests and had a fire and marshmallows down by the river; gone down to Byron Bay to watch the moon rise from the water – almost as golden as its brother sun; danced outside on our arena, and had a full moon dinner in the garden.
This month, we hadn’t even thought about a full moon moment. In fact, the night before the weather had been so violent – with lashing rain and gusting winds, that full moon fever was the last thing on my mind.
But now, standing in my kitchen, looking out into the garden, everything was clearly silhouetted in silvery light, and I could see my Paint horse, Storm, lying down in his paddock, with his companion, Johnny, our grey Arabian, grazing close by.
Storm was born on the property, and I was lucky enough to be there when it happened. When he was a foal, and used to take his baby naps, I would often go into the paddock and lie down beside him, and he was always welcoming. He would open an eye, and close it again, and we would lie there together quite contentedly until I had to go back to work, or he’d had enough snoozing. Sometimes his mother, Glimmer, would stand over us both, and they were always special moments.
I wondered if Storm would be let me talk to him now, in the full moonlight, so I wandered over to the paddock, and sure enough, he kept on resting, while I sat on the ground beside him and scratched his neck for him. We sat there companionably together, and now that I was outside, I could see clearly into the house, back into the kitchen where I’d been standing, and where my daughter and her two friends were hanging out.
Wouldn’t it be lovely, I suddenly thought, if we could actually ride in the moonlight? How amazing would that be to embrace the still, crisp night air, and the moon in all its glory, with a horse?
I looked at Johnny, grazing away. We’ve had our occasionally slightly over-excited Arab for eleven years, and somehow along the way, he’s become a been-there, done-that sort of a horse – exactly the sort of horse to go riding on in the moonlight – as long as there were no horse-eating dragons out and about. (Fortunately, in Johnny’s horse brain, horse-eating dragons are usually absent from the arena, and only present when he feels he has to keep his wits about him in the macadamia forest.)
The girls were willing, and so was Johnny, and so there we were with the natural horsemanship halter, and the bareback pad, just in our tracksuits and gumboots, pottering around in the moonlight on a horse. What a beautiful feeling it was! No pressure, no force – we just let Johnny wander around with one of us beside him, and one of us riding. He was mostly curious about the light shining from the ubiquitous iPod, and what he really wanted to do was just hang with us and cuddle – which was fine by us. So we all had a turn, riding in the moonlight, and then we sat and chatted, while the other horses looked at us over the fences as if to say they too would like to join in.
It was a magical moonlit moment out there with the three girls, and the snowy-white Arab – one for the memory banks, that’s for sure.