"Horses" by Stacy Elaine Dacheux

Stacy Elaine Dacheux’s winter 2008 story, “Horses,” follows a narrator with a history of aggression, as she meets a commercial actor in an equine-related therapy group. By learning to manage horses, the group sessions are intended to teach the two of them by analogy how people respond to varying degrees of “touch, intention, and tone.” Will the narrator, unimpressed with horse therapy, change her approach to human contact when she develops a sexual relationship with her actor therapy group mate?

The narrator is a cynic unambiguous about her aggressive nature toward the horses and the sessions themselves. “The Actor” on the other hand is typical Hollywood-actorly, more pliable to the simulative nature of the sessions (“therapy mirrored the real world and that horses mirrored us”), and better able perhaps to hide his true nature beneath layers of assumed personalities. How these two characters commiserate and eventually consummate their attraction for each other is quite intriguing.

In the story’s culmination, a certain expletive oft used by the narrator becomes literally acted out. And the horse therapy from earlier surprisingly gets turned on its head:  Though one may learn to caress a horse, in order to ride it faster one must employ spurs, itself an act of aggression.

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