I like riding on an empty stomach for the same reason I like listening to good music on an empty stomach; it pulls your center better. There is something to be said for how hunger sharpens you. Not starvation, not suffering, just enough to feel strong in the hollowness. The pleasure delay. The balance shift.
When I ride Merlin on nothing but a day of farm work, running, and caffeine fumes I get that pull. The best way I can explain it is this crude exercise: imagine that your torso is empty. No bones. No entrails. Your chest is a locker space and it is a third full of blood. Stick with me. Really try to feel this. Imagine that emptiness partially occupied with the fuel that runs the whole show. You are emptiness and energy.
Now imagine sitting on the back of an animal you know better than any human being you have ever met. An animal you can tell is going to take a shit by the way he flicks his ears and rolls his hindquarter muscles after a few slow steps. You are comfortable and calm. You are not expecting to fall off any more than you would expect to be thrown from the seat of your car on a trip to the grocery store. You know it could happen. Accidents happen every day. You are still comfortable, despite the statistics. You don't think about turning ignition or flipping dials and switches - everything is habitual and automatic. You trained for years to earn that ease.
So picture that same state of comfort and that fishbowl center. And as a half ton of draft animal moves at a walk your blood swirls and swishes calmly inside your alveolated core. His steps make ripples in the blood. It knows what is happening. You feel them and their echoes.
When he picks up pace to a canter you lean forward with the motion’s hope. That blood moves entirely forward too. It isn’t splashing and chaos in there, blood is thicker than water after all. It moves with decision. It isn't being pushed. It is pulled by your eyes.
A turn is just ahead. As your left heel and right hand whisper the blood screams need. It is alive in you. GO LEFT! GO LEFT! Your insides know what to do, and all it takes is looking and leaning. There is no choice, just that same habitual ease. You balance feet in the stirrups, distributing weight. You feel that blood all shift left, again calmly, as if there is meter and rhyme against the impulse to move left with him. He collects his muscles and since it is an incline, picks up speed. He is turning at a gallop and you can not stop yourself from laughing at the absurd joy. You understanding this better than anything else in the world. Centaurs have nothing on you, and you would pass a polygraph if you were asked if you could fly.
This is how never ending feels. Do no confuse it sex, chemical reactions, or other thieves. Those are great things, but slight of hand dealing you experiences of the present. The pull is the real work of Forever.
When the speed of a straightaway come you feel your lower back circled by warm air. The heat and pulling your blood bank and pressing your ribs a second ahead of your own understanding. It is anatomy and repetition, but it never, not for one second, does it stop feeling like magic. That is why you skip a few meals and ride hungry.
You are not a flailing backpack on the back of a skipping simpleton. You are the fucking back. A back with a brain that communicates its needs and desires to one thousand pounds of freewill that is for some unknowable reason tolerating you. The forest floor moves below you so fast. When you finally do glance down it feels like you are still and the earth is moves backwards. His hooves and legs are reaching impossibly forward like grappling hooks pulling time back into you. You are allowed to feel that, smell that, be that.
The pull is all you are now.
Your hollowness and blood took over because it has always been the part of you in control. We do everything we can to make it shut up, drunk, lazy, or stupid but the center knows. If you somehow manage to listen to it - even if it is just seconds a lifetime - you take it.
Eat when the world slows down.
Eat long after the lullabies of those first ripples are memory. Right now cherish the pull and the hollow. Life is only about that pull and the hollow. Remember it. The nostalgia is potent and will coat your regret like cough syrup over a rotten apple. Find that pull however you can manage to get it without taking from another person's chance to feel it. That's what we are all doing here. Now you know.
A dark horse taught me this. I did not deserve the lesson.