Nighttime. Lights flash. Shadows fall and create monsters where there are none.
Q takes it all in, a little nervous at first, but trusting my calm demeanor, she calms and settles. She cocks a back foot and rests. We wait for the start.
Drums bang. Headlights blind us. Bells ring. Music blares.
Q shifts her weight to the other hind foot and rests the first one. She yawns.
Sirens flash and scream. The train horn blows.
Q cocks an ear. Turns her head a little. Shifts her weight again. We get the cue. The parade begins.
Horses around us spook
and jitter. Kids scream. Kids run. Flash photography everywhere.
Q asks to please walk faster, this parade business is slow.
People yell. People scream. People laugh and point with happiness and glee at the horses.
Q moves off my leg to walk along the edge of the road, feet away from the people.
Kids scatter here and there. Some dart into our path. Children dressed as sparkly elves rush around.
Q listens to my cues and side steps around the children.
People smile. They point. They tell their children to look at the pretty horsie.
Q moves off my leg again, toward the people. She stops when I request with my seat. She looks at the children's bright, curious eyes. She lowers her head a little so they can reach.
Children giggle and smile. Their faces light up.
Q and I move along down the route, catching back up only to stop again. I wave to the kids. Smile as their faces light up as Q and I move in again for a new group to pet what may be their first ever horse.
Smiles. Laughter. Bright eyes and happy expressions. Kids rush over, parents tell them to slow down.
I caution, with a smile, for them to be careful.
They grin up, pat her quickly, and dart away.
Q continues up the line of parade-goers, watching the children with curiosity as they dart about picking up candy.
Navy men back away.
One asks if "he bites". I smile and shake my head. Q steps forward and thrusts her head in his arms.
Everyone smiles. Others rush in to pet her.
Q graciously accepts the praise and we move on. Again and again we stop for children to say "hi". For girls to take pictures. For kisses to be given. Smiles shared. A word of caution here and there, but most realize to be slow and steady with their movements around the horse. Other riders are offering the same opportunity on the other side of the road. Smiles become so bright. Eyes light up. Giggles from children, grateful glances from parents. Something about the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a person. I'm so happy Q could share that with so many tonight.