On my mind

Four-legged Boomerang

29 March 2024

When I lived in Philadelphia, studying podiatry, I exercised a horse named Boomerang for a man who liked to fox hunt but didn’t have the time to put in the saddle, due to his high-powered job and travel. Boomerang lived on the man’s farm just barely outside of the Philly city limits, a short drive from my apartment in East Falls. Access to the upper trails of Wissahickon Valley Park was across the road from the farm. Boomerang and I would spend blissful afternoons out on the trails. He was what horse people would call a Steady-Eddie. He was reliable and kind. You could ride him on a loose rein and enjoy the scenery, even at the canter.

I never thought to ask why he was named Boomerang.

A couple of months after I began riding him, we were cantering down a trail when I suddenly found myself in mid-air. Catlike, the horse had spun 180 degrees and was now heading back to the barn. Without me.

And now I knew why he was called Boomerang. “Someone should have warned me,” I remember thinking in that briefest of pauses before I hit the ground.

Luckily, when I was in my twenties, I could still bounce back up after a fall. I walked home, picking my way gingerly through the woods, with significant bruising but no broken bones. And back at the barn, it was confirmed that Boomerang did have this one vice…he would boomerang back to the barn without warning. People were surprised it hadn’t happened sooner.

These days, I ride horses with names like Blue (short for Clouds of Blue) and Corwin, which is supposed to mean “friend of my heart” in its Irish or Gaelic origins. I know that horses with gentle, kind-sounding names won’t guarantee me rides without falls, or soft landings. But I don’t think this bit of caution hurts, either.