Sal and I are like beings: We are stubborn, built for durability, and antsy on rainy days. We both have a hard time leaving this peninsula: I am quietly content to putter around these 400 acres and Sal is too. Granted, I have more opportunities than she does to leave on a regular basis, but this year Sal and I attended three off-campus events: two Low-Impact Forestry workshops (one in February as instructors-in-training and one in November as full-fledged instructors) and the Common Ground Fair in September, where we did a demonstration and talk (I was in charge of the talking part) in the round pen called “Becoming Your Horse’s Human.” All three events were through the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). The February Low-Impact Forestry (LIF) workshop was the first time in many years that Sal left Chewonki Neck. We started practicing trailer loading into a borrowed horse trailer a couple of weeks in advance. I’d heard rumors from farmers past about Sal’s antics in avoiding trailer loading, and I certainly witnessed them first-hand in those weeks. With patience and persistence and the help of a semester student with extensive horse experience, Sal managed to load at last (many times over!) in our practice rounds, and we both made it to the workshop unscathed and ready for work. Sal has never been an easy horse. She is a beast with personality, an ability to differentiate between people and a willingness to test the abilities and patience of every teamster who takes the lines. This makes her – in some sense – not ideal for teaching: she is finicky, and students must rise to the occasion of showing the right balance of deference and authority, firmly but gently entering the working partnership. In other ways, that is so ideal for a horse in an educational setting: she won’t be easy to win over, but – whoa! – what we all have to learn from this complex and rich interrelationship! At LIF in February, she was, simply put, a star. While trailer loading continued to be a quiet trial every time it was necessary, she worked so steadily and sturdily over that weekend, pulling firewood out of the woods and – after a brief bout of testing – settling into being a model workhorse for the new teamster paired with us. Farmers and loggers who have known Sal for ten-plus years through MOFGA events said they wouldn’t have recognized her as the horse that used to stir up trouble at every turn. One long-time teamster noted that there’s only one thing wrong with a good horse like Sal: you can’t learn anything from a horse that good. My heart swelled in my chest. Pride for this horse and the work we’ve done together stirred within me. To be truthful, I had the highest of hopes for the two events this fall. And each proved noteworthy, but for such different and important reasons. The Sal Trailer Drama of Common Ground 2013 will go down in (my personal) history as a nasty, nasty chapter. Once off the trailer, Sal was not interested in reentering that dark domain. This was fine and good, to some degree. Most horses at the fair are working or in stalls for the day; Sal had no assigned stall because we were only there for the day, so I just stuck with her, and so many fairgoers had a chance to love on that sweet horse, who dozed and leaned in to the petting. Some littler folks just up and stayed with us for much of the afternoon, quietly petting her nose and whispering to her in tones that were too low for me to catch. Our demonstration in the round pen was smooth and easy. A classic moment: I explained to the audience that Sal’s greatest fear is tarps. More than any other one thing, she consistently has a strong reaction to amorphous tarps, widening her eyes and moving away from them when we see them stretched across a trailer or bunched up near the garden shed. I brought a tarp into the round pen to demonstrate how we work with her around those most evil things. She did not widen her eyes or move away; she walked calmly over to it, nudged it with her nose, and started grazing on the grass underneath the fallen tarp. Note to self: Sal will see through anything staged. Be real with her. Ultimately, once all the people stopped watching our attempts at trailer loading, Sal quietly walked on: drama queen. And home we went, only to return two months later for another LIF workshop. Sal pulled tricks during the workshop that I haven’t seen from her in years. It was a tough – sometimes frustrating, and a time or two humiliating – time as she challenged a fiery new teamster. We had our major and minor breakthroughs throughout the weekend, and a lovely last hour when I had the lines solo without a student and we hit a rhythm twitching wood together. Every day is a new and different day with a living being as your working partner, regardless of whether that partner is a human or horse or otherwise. Sal and I will continue to leave campus together in the next year, and I will continue to try and honor where she is and to be aware of where I am in approaching our daily work together. I will be patient with her, she with me.