• VOLUME 63 • © HORSES For LIFE™ Magazine
Horse Keeping At Home: My Therapist Says I Will Be Fine
I recall being overwhelmed with excitement at the idea of keeping my horses at home. I was young, had no gray hair, and still loved horses at the time. For anyone who has a horse, humour is the key to sanity. At least, that is what my therapist told me.
I have found that horses are like potato chips, you cannot stop with just one or two. I have three horses and a pony. My wallet is empty, but my heart is full. I have taken the liberty of assigning personalities to my horses.
The appaloosa is the jock of the bunch; not very bright, built like a tank, and knocks things over in the locker room. He acts tough, but only to those he knows will not beat him up. I firmly believe if he could talk, his vocabulary would be limited to “Duh” and “Huh?”
The arab is the grumpy old man who shakes his fist and yells nonsense at the walls. He doesn’t recall his name or why he is there, but as long as he is fed, he is happy. He turns his hearing aid down very low so that he cannot hear you, even when you are screaming into his ear for him to get off your foot. If Buddy spoke, it would be in that creepy loud voice of a deaf oldster, “What? What’s that you said?”
The palomino is the scared, shy little boy who is worried the jock will steal his lunch money. He always wanted to be popular, but instead he drops his books in the hallway and spills soup on his classmates. He tries to fit in with any crowd that will have him. His catch phrase would be, “Please?”
The pony is a punk who would have multiple piercings in his ears and wear a leather jacket; he thinks he is cool but his teachers don’t like him very much. His father has threatened to disown him and his favorite word is “whatever.”
With such a stew of personalities, horse humour abounds daily. It is a large dysfunctional family right outside my window, like a reality television show you are embarrassed to admit you watch. Your day becomes filled with horse obligations, like feeding, farriers, and vet visits. Every day brings new opportunities to laugh, cry, and question your wisdom in owning horses. I have often thought gerbils would be easier to raise, with less expensive vet bills.
Vet visits themselves are a fun and sometimes humorous way to spend your afternoon .when keeping your horses at home. When the old arab began dropping his grain, it was suggested I get his teeth floated, or his dentures replaced. Floating sounds so nice and gentle. I could not have been less prepared to see the equine dentist walk up with a file the size of an elephant trunk and a contraption that looked like a medieval torture device. Having a personal phobia of dentists, I asked for a horse tranquilizer. The vet patiently informed me that the sedative is for the horse, not the owner. He then wrestled the mouth speculum into place and asked me to hold the horse. I gingerly held the lead line and felt the color drain out of my face as he began grinding with the file; I thought he was enjoying himself a little too much. When he finally said, "OK," I figured it was all over and I had survived. I wasn't ready for his next words, "I think we need to do a power float."
He dashed off to his car and brought back a power floater; my knees were beginning to get weak. He revved it a few times, and I again asked for a tranquilizer. As soon as the tool hit my horse's teeth, my head hit the floor. The dentist dashed water on my face. I believe it was algae laced trough water but I am not sure. He firmly told me to go away. The horse seemed to be laughing at me, or perhaps it was the speculum that had his mouth wedged into a smile; either way, I crawled out and waited by the driveway. I had had enough humour for one day.
Other times, horse humour comes from finding unexpected ways to torment your horses. One bright, windy fall day I grabbed my daughter, bundled her up and went outside to fly kites next to the pasture. The palomino had faced down a charging ATV on a trail ride, gotten tangled in a downed power line on an different ride, and chased foxes out of the pasture. I never dreamed he would be terrified of a kite. Once the kite was hovering in the sky, Sunny realized that an alien invasion had begun and ran in circles, bellowing, snorting, stomping and bucking his threats at the kite. Naturally I thought, "Goodness, he is petrified...I need to do it more."
A gust of wind brought the kite directly to the center of the pasture, flying proudly. I don't think my laughing was maniacal, no matter what my daughter says. By this time, Sunny had activated the alien alert system and rallied the others to his cause. Sid was running in circles, looking confused but determined to take on the intruder if he could just figure out exactly where it was, and Buddy was adjusting his bifocals and giving sage advice, such as “When I was in the war, we ate a lot of beef jerky.” All of them were prancing and snorting; so was I. Then the wind, in its own perverse joke, stopped and the kite dropped to the ground like a ton of bricks. The attack was swift and brutal. Pieces of kite were floating across the pasture, Sunny had the once graceful tail hanging from his teeth and was playing tug of war with the arab and the string was hopelessly tangled in the fence. I do not recommend entering a pasture to retrieve a kite from a gang of frenzied equines bent on alien destruction. As I wrestled the kite away from them, I glanced nonchalantly around to be sure no one had seen.
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• © HORSES For LIFE™ Magazine