At four thirty in the morning, I hate horses.
It’s safe to say I hate everything, at four thirty in the morning. I hate sunlight, artificial light, basically any illumination at all. I hate coffee, and water, and toothpaste. I hate jeans and argyle socks. I hate everything that I would, in a more civilized time of day, love.
At six o’clock in the morning, I hate horses. I have had some coffee, I have grown resigned to my jeans and argyle socks, I am pleased to have brushed my teeth. But as I go wearily up to the dimly lit barn, I still hate horses.By six ten, I’m coming around. Horses are going out to the racetrack. I can hear their hooves clattering on the pavement outside the barn. I can hear the hot fast breath of horses being walked in the shedrow. I’m alternating between “I hate horses,” and “I really want to be on a horse right now.” It’s a complicated relationship.
At six twenty, I love horses. I love the horse I am sitting on. I love the early-morning twilight. I love seeing the A-train come rattling into the Aqueduct station, a reminder of my geographic serendipity. I love being out on the racetrack, I love being in New York City, I love everything.
At nine o’clock, I am tired of horses. It’s hot, I’m sweaty. My horse is hot, my horse is sweaty. The track is deep and trodden with hoofmarks. The last few rotten two-year-olds are careening around the track like out-of-control test missiles from a 1960 Cape Canaveral launch pad. The mechanics in the Evil Corner of Death (yes, the racetrack has one too!) are engaging in some sort of Large Metal Tool Throwing Contest. There are police cars wailing on Rockaway Boulevard. The charm is gone with the rising sun. The day is started. Time to go.
At eleven o’clock, I’ve kissed horses good-bye. They’ve had their mints, their breakfast, their hooves picked and their backs massaged. The shedrow is raked clean and even, like a zen garden rolled over with chicken tracks. I love them, but if I have to see them for another five seconds, I’m going to scream.