Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Early Bird…

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…gets the fresh corduroy and powdery crud.  We had three, maybe four inches of snow fall from the sky out on the ski hill last Thursday night.  And by 9:30am on Friday, I was on the slopes and flying. Scroll to the bottom for Maximum Excitement.

First run of the morning.  Oh, it was so sweet.  Especially after I got off the summit, where the winds were howling hard enough to push us back into the lift chair…

Then this:  the intermediate rollers for which Mount Snow is famed.  Also, some fresh…powder.  All 2″ of it.

And the mountain’s White Ribbon of Death:  first run to open, last to close.  Not at all deathly on Friday!

And last, but certainly not least…ripping the steeps.  Black diamond run:

 

Rockin’ Down The Highway

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For the last ten years I’ve been in my own Personal Automotive Heaven.  I have a car that gives me joy to drive every time I slip into the driver’s seat.  Every time I find myself inspecting someone else’s car on the freeway and thinking “Dang! That’s a good looking set of wheels!” it turns out to be someone driving the same model I already own.  For ten years, I’ve had to sink money into routine maintenance, a new set of tires, a set of new brakes, and various and sundry inspections, fees, taxes, licenses, and tolls.  That’s it.  And for a ten year old car, that’s pretty darn good.

Contrast this with every other car I ever owned.  My first car, a used Pontiac T-1000.  Otherwise known as TFPOS (this term includes not one but two profanities – sort it out yourself).  It had…Issues.  1983 wasn’t a good year for Pontiac, that much was clear.  And my car was obviously manufactured on a Monday morning.  Quite probably the first one off the line.  Or worse, it was the one that was halfway done on Friday afternoon when the whistle blew, and it was used by a hangover-addled guy who was spending his last week before retirement training the new recruits.

This car is the Poster Child for Why Detroit Is Where It Is.

It had problems with the vacuum exhaust under the hood.  It had electrical issues.  It had a problem no one was ever able to figure out, where if the temperature was below 50, and I ran the car up to freeway speeds, it would stay there for a very short period and then begin inexorably slowing down until it was going 30 mph, a pace it could maintain.  The alternative was to pull it off to the side of the road (did I mention “freeway speeds”? yes, that means “pull it off to the side of the freeway“) and sit there with it until it felt like running again, and hope that I got to whereever it is I was going before it needed to slow down again and take a break.  I owned this car for 3 years, maybe 4.  Or maybe it was closer to 2.  It felt like fifty years.  Because during my period of ownership, we (I mean, me and my Haynes manual, plus any of my guy friends I could convince to help me out) replaced eight (8) started solenoids, three (3) alternators, one (1) oil pump, assorted brakes, several air filters, rebuilt the carb, dismantled the engine to have the heads resurfaced (learning, in the process that you really need to carefully label each of the valve rockers BEFORE you take them off, and PUT THEM BACK IN EXACTLY THE SAME SPOT. The car actually needed a new fuel filter, but I didn’t replace it because some previous owner dealt with the existence of a leak in the fuel line by epoxying the filter onto the line.  Thus ensuring that no one would be able to replace it when it died.

The starter solenoids, by the way, were not easily accessible from the top of the engine.  Or from the bottom, for that matter.  There was the tiniest possible gap in all the crap that was bolted onto the engine that provided the tiniest possible access hole through which the old solenoid could be brought up and the new one sent down.  Unfortunately, the hole did not provide easy access for the screwdriver that was needed to get the bloody thing off or the new (bloody) thing on.  Men in three states (and one woman in New England) have scars on their knuckles from replacing the solenoids in TFPOS (you can see where the name, and the cursing, comes from).  I should point out that because of the unbelievable hassle and blood-letting and first-aid that were inevitably involved in changing the solenoids, it’s not like I changed them as soon as they started to die.  No.  I learned, pretty quickly, that I could often get the solenoid to kick in enough to fire the ignition if I pounded on it.  And, because it was buried in the bowels of the engine, this required custom tools.  For me, it was a heavy super-long-handled screwdriver (courtesy of Walmart), and it lived in my glove compartment.  And we had a little ritual for most of those years, me and TFPOS.  I’d get behind the wheel with a hopeful heart full of the Power of Positive Thinking.  And I’d turn the key.  If live was Good that day, the engine would start, and I’d close the door and drive off (or mostly drive off).  On a Normal Day, the key would turn and I’d hear a “click”. I’d curse the car, open the glove compartment, extract my screwdriver (which was usually on top of everything else), pop the hood, go to the front of the car, open the hood, curse the car again, prop it open, stick the screwdriver down in the hole (you’ve got to add the flashlight if this happened at night – as it often did as I was working my way through school at the time and usually didn’t leave the college until 9:30pm), whang the screwdriver around firmly, curse the car, leave the hood open (because this often had to be done a few times), slide behind the wheel, curse the car once more for luck, and turn the key.  Rinse, lather, repeat.  I think I even still have that screwdriver.

That car taught me everything I need to know about working on a car, because absolutely every one of its systems failed while it was mine, and I certainly didn’t have money to pay someone else to fix it.  If I had, I wouldn’t have been driving the thing in the first place.  I learned how to diagnose 30 common problems and another 15 or 20 not-common problems, and what to do about them.  I learned all about the Internal Combustion Engine and how it works (and, often, how it does not work).

Let’s put it this way.  No mechanic mistakes me for Susie Bimbo twice.  No mechanic sells me stuff I don’t need, not even once.

The Final Straw was the water pump.  “Enough” I said.  And I wondered, not for the first time, if I could have the car hauled off to one of those junkyards where they drop a huge cartoon weight from the top of a crane and turn the car into a little biscuit of metal.

And I wondered if they’d let me tag along and press the button myself. I wondered about paying for that privilege.  I’ve never hated anything like I hated that car.  When the second alternator died, I grew so wroth I kicked the crap out of it and turned it from a T-1000 into a T-100.  TFPOS.

My next car, the Maximonster, was an awesome set of wheels.  It was an even-older (1981) Datsun Maxima.  Yes.  From the era before Nissan existed.  It was a luxoboat.  It had power everything.  Power windows, power steering, power breaks, power seats, and a sunroof.  And it talked.  In words.  I leave the lights on?  No dinga-ding-ding for me.  No, my car said “Rights Ah On.  Rights Ah On.”  because while it spoke and spoke in English, it did so with a Japanese accent.  “Reft Dooah Is Open. Reft Dooah Is Open.”  “Trunk Is Ajah. Trunk Is Ajah.”

That car had 215,000 miles on it, and it rolled off the production lines right about the time Japan was getting a reputation for turning out very reliable vehicles.  The engine had been rebuilt by the kind of person who knows what they are doing (as opposed to the kind of person who solves leaks with epoxy). Iloved that car.

I halfway believe that I’d still be driving it today, if some flaming moron hadn’t run a stopsign and t-boned the car in the lane next to me, pushing that one into mine, all at 45mph.  I felt the thud, realized I was now in a different lane, and the car is telling me “Right Dooah Is Open.”  I pulled over, realized the was glass all over the inside of the car, got out, saw that the entire right side was caved in, and knew that my car was Dead.  And I sat down on the curb and cried as hard as I cried when my first dog died.

My next car was a Mazda 626 with a persistent oil leak and something else wrong – I don’t remember what, because I only had that car for about 6 months before I went off to grad school and changed it for an all-terrain bike.  That car taught me that black cars show dirt faster than white carpet.  I sold it to someone with full disclosure of whatever the weird problem was.  I didn’t have it long enough to hate it.

For my next car, I inherited my ex-husband’s pickup truck.  It was an Isuzu light truck that had been rear-ended by a drunk whose insurance had expired 20 minutes before the wreck, so for most of the time we had it, the tailgate was inoperable.  Its previous owners had attempted to convert it to some type of low-rider but cutting the suspension down.  Way down.  The AC didn’t work (a serious liability, in Texas) but it had an after-market radio, and it started reliably.  Or, started reliably right until it died when I got rid of it.  It was hideous and uncomfortable – everything a graduate student’s car should be.  I left it in Texas when I moved north after graduation and started making enough money to think of having a decent car.  Possibly even a new car.  For the first time in my life…

And from there, I wound up in the wheels I drive today.  Best looking car on the road.  Handles like a dream.  Starts reliably.  Fast.  Agile.  Big trunk.  Comfortable seats.  Comfortable everything.  Did I mention best looking car on the road?

But it’s 10 years old.  And little stuff is starting to go wrong.  The passenger window motor (or transmission, not sure yet) died this winter.  Too much ice, probably.  Got to get that replaced.  The light that illuminates the dashboard clock is out.  Like I said, little stuff.

But I know.  The writing is on the wall. Once that little stuff starts to go wrong, more follows behind it, and then you get big stuff.

On top of this, Roy has been riding my butt encouraging me to look into getting a car that is “more suited to [my] current lifestyle” than my super-fun sportscar is.  OK.  It is a sportscar, and it’s got 19″ alloy wheels, and this means it doesn’t really have the clearance to put studded snow tires on.  And while that was OK when I lived a mile from my office and parked the car in an underground garage in Wisconsin, now I live in Snowy New England (don’t get me started) and my office is 25 miles from my house.  And the driveway to the barn is long-ish, and can be slick.  And I can’t get to the Emergency Backup Barn where Winter Horse lives at all.  I’ve been having to catch rides with my trainer.  Too hilly, too slick.  And while I can rack up my ski gear in the trunk and the pass-through, I can’t take Roy’s as well, so we always have to take his car.  And I can’t fit my saddle in the trunk, I have to put it in the back seat like a baby carrier.

So he’s been trying to get me to replace my Hot Rod with a Mom Mobile.

Now I’m in the shoes of every middle-aged man who’s had the Sell That Sportscar And Get A Family Car ultimatum from the wife (or other daddy of the kids).  I am exploring my boundaries.

And what I find is that I am not, I repeat NOT going to be driving ANY vehicle that resembles, imitates, or is clearly derived from, the Station Wagon.

Just say NO.  Not doing it.  A sedan is bad enough.  I don’t see why I should have to have 4 doors when I only need 2.  I am not, repeat NOT, doing more than 4 doors.  And no doors that slide.  Or hatches that lift up.  No, No, No, No, NO.

I agree, we ought to have one in the family.  Because we do from time to time want to load up like a camel train and take everything we might possibly ever want or need off to Maine for a week.  And because we do have an amazing amount of winter sports equipment, and that’s without the super-rockered and cambered all-mountain skis I have every intention of buying next year when they start getting made.  A weekend ski trip, for us, means my ice skis, my fat skis, my poles, Roy’s carvers, his poles, my boot bag, his boot bag, his 210cm cross-country skis, his long poles, his XC boot bag, the snowshoe bag, and a pair of snow-hikers.  And that’s before we get to the actual luggage.

So I agree, we need one.  But I think it ought to be his.  He doesn’t mind station wagons and sedans, and gas mileage is more important than performance to him.  I vote that Roy gets the Mom Mobile, and I get another sportscar that we can both tool around in in the summer with the sunroof open and the engine roaring like a purring lion.  What I want, honestly, is another one of what I have, only newer.  Unfortunately, only 3,000 of my cars were made, and none are newer than mine.

So, for now, it’s going to be dropping dollars to replace window motors and light bulbs, and stuff like that.  Until we can settle the marital controversy over the Mom Mobile, and until I can identify a suitable successor to Automotive Heaven.  It’s going to be a while on both, I think…

Curses. Foiled AGAIN.

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I realized I’ve let a few weeks go by without bitching about the weather, and I don’t want anyone to assume that this is because there isn’t anything to bitch about.  There is.  I just ran out of new, interesting words to use on the subject.  The weather here has been on rapid-cycle between late November and mid-April.  Sometimes we get both in a single 36 hour period, like we did yesterday.  Sometimes we get repeats of both within a given 3 day period, like we are right now.

I should point out that mid-April gives good skiing, but late November yields no slope action other than the White Ribbon of Death.

I should also point out that late November gives adequate riding conditions, but mid-April is a nightmare for the horse farm.  Windy, big temperature swings, fretty restless horses, and still plenty of treacherous icy spots on the ground.

This means that of late, the weather hasn’t been good for either one of my preferred outdoor sports.  It’s been even worse for Roy, who will go alpine skiing, but has a vastly greater preference for cross-country skiing…which requires natural snow.  Crystallized water that fell from the sky.  I think he’s been able to go twice this year.  Horrors.

The weather is making the horses insane.  I had a great visit with Huey on Thursday.  The round pen is in the sun and free from snow and mostly free from ice, and was available for lunging.  Which we needed to do, and do a lot of, because he was getting that thousand-yard stare in his eyes and developing a tendency to spook at completely absurd things.  Usually Huey is a pretty calm dude, so watching him get super wiggy drove home how much he really needs to get worked a lot more frequently than we’ve been able to this winter.

I went out yesterday to spend some quality time with him.  We’d gone from April 16 directly to December 30, and done so with a lot of wind.  Was it the wind that was responsible for what happened next?  Was it the beaver face on my warm hat?  Did he not like meeting two sets of eyes when he looked at me?  Was it my gloves, that maybe still smelled a little like the other horse I’ve been riding?  Was it a Beet Pulp High from his new Hanging Ball?  Was it that he didn’t want to take a chance at having to work again?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that he didn’t want to go in the halter, and instead of putting up the token show of resistance that he has in the past, he decided to Make A Stand.

Now, the last thing I wanted to do for 40 minutes yesterday afternoon was stand out in an icy paddock, getting battered by a freezing wind, dealing with Huey’s Little Rebellion.

Problem is, if I’d said The Hell With This and bailed out, he’d have learned.  Huey is a wicked smart horse, and he learns wicked fast.  And what he’d have learned is that he could – sometimes – get off the hook for working (or doing anything else) by avoiding going in the halter.

The second-to-last behavior I want to see my horse develop is Being Hard To Catch.  (The last one I want to see is Biting.)

So I had to suck it up, and play his bloody game, and wear him out by making him keep walking (or trotting) in his paddock…all the while having to keep him out of the icy spots where he could get injured.

I sure hope he wasn’t doing this to avoid working, because he got at least as much exercise doing this as he did on the lunge line on Thursday.  So from that standpoint, his strategy was a total bust.

Ultimately, I took my beaver hat and my gloves off, on the off-chance that they were somehow freaking him out.  Ultimately, I got him into the halter and took him into the barn, picked his feet, brought him into the round pen and made him go through a couple of basic obedience exercises just to remind him that I am the Boss of him.

It was like one of those days with a three-year-old that missed his nap and is now crabby, whining, and grizzling.  You can’t get mad or take it personally, because it’s not the kid, it’s not you, it’s the fact that he missed his nap.  But it’s still very tiresome.

All the way through this, Huey was acting like Space Aliens had stolen his brain.  Freaking out at every little thing, not wanting to be scratched or rubbed, behaving as if my hand was covered in red-hot super-sharp knives instead of skin.

Let’s put it this way:  I had two carrots in my pocket, and he never noticed them.

If he’s still at it when I see him tomorrow, I’m getting the trainer involved.  I’ve had enough of this freakish behavior.  If the vet needs to come, so be it.  But this has got to stop.

I should also note that while I was engaged in my One Ring Circus with Huey, the mares in the nearby paddock were also freaking out.  They were racing and kicking each other, almost at random.  Every once in a while they’d make a boiling, roiling, kicking clump in the corner where the gate is, and then Huey would stop in his corner and they’d have a pow-wow.  I’d have to go over there and flick him on the butt with the lead rope to keep him moving.

Meanwhile, the gelding in the paddock across the corner – who evidently was around and watching carefully when the mares took advantage Thursday of power-down for Chore Time to disassemble their paddock fence – experimented a little and noticed that it must be Chore Time again.  He discovered that the fence was powered-down, and set about disassembling his own paddock fence.  I didn’t notice this until I went to drive Huey out of another one of his Secret Lodge Meetings with the mares and realized that the gelding was casually sauntering up and down everyone else’s fence line as well.

Then I had another quandary.  I couldn’t bail out on Huey’s pissy fit without teaching him that it was a good idea.  On the other hand, there was a Loose Horse and no one else around.  What to do?

Fortunately, the stable hand came around the corner of the barn then so I was able to shout “LOOSE HORSE!” and have someone else deal with it properly…while still keeping the pressure on Huey.

The Drama Of It All…

Today, I had a choice:  go see if my horse still has bats in his belfry, or go skiing.  We were getting flurries, which means nothing here, but which will actually stick to the surface on the ski hill and make something fun.  So I went for the skiing…

…Only to find when I got there that the lifts had – in the 80 minutes since I left home – been placed on Wind Hold due to 40mph gusts.  They had the lower lifts going to service the White Ribbon of Death.  Which, at this point, was occupied with a large number of people one would not ordinarily find on this run.  Like novices.  It being a high-intermediate run for this mountain and all.

I said to myself, “Self,” I said, “You could go up and make some turns.  In the flat light and blowing snow.  On a run that hasn’t had fresh snow made there in several days.  Which is presently crowded with low-skilled skiers.”  All of which adds up, to my thinking, to Lots Of Injuries.  None of which I want. So I did the only thing that made rational sense: I turned around, and I went home.  I’m glad I made that decision, but I can’t believe I had to.

Is there something like Mercury in retrograde, only for dealing with atmospheric conditions, and pets?  ‘Cause, the sooner this phase of whatever it is comes to an end, the better.

Schoolmaster For A School of One

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I’ve been thinking lately, Why?  Not a big Why, like “Why hasn’t winter started yet even though it’s mid-February?” Not even a middle-sized Why, like “Why can Jeremy Lin, a kid from Harvard who’s been sleeping on his brother’s sofa, outshoot Kobe Bryant and lead the New York Knicks to multiple victories?”  This is more of a small Why, like “Why do I own a horse? Why now? Why Huey?”

It seems like that ought to be a huge Why, given the cost of owning a horse, given the time involved, given the demands on personal growth.  So Why is it a small Why?

Because asking this question is a lot like asking “Why is there air?”  Bill Cosby’s theory (that air exists to inflate basketballs) aside…it’s an impossible question.  You can’t ask that question without air.  You can’t be around to ask that question without air.  Does this mean that the air exists to make that question possible?  Can you even separate the existence of air from the existence of the question?   Is it different from “Je pense, donc je suis” (I think, therefore I am)?

Le cheval est, donc je suis.

Horse is, therefore I am.

And really, much of that Why is just that simple (or complicated, however you choose to view it).  I have Huey because he is there and because I have him.  I can’t imagine Huey being there, and not having him.  I can’t imagine being here, and Huey not being here (and I’ve tried, just to see if I can’t maybe spread some of that awfulness out over time and make it less of a crash when it happens, but it doesn’t work.  My imagination slides away from that like 15 lb salmon escaping the clutches of a grizzly bear).

I wasn’t planning on having a horse right now.  My plan was to have a horse in another year or so, after we’ve finished paying off the kids’ college educations.  My plan was to spend a year or so shopping on equine.com, finding the Perfect Horse.  In my plan the Perfect Horse was around 10 years old, already started in dressage, with a fairly mild temper, an inclination to cuddle a bit, and with a little more Whoa than Go.  My plan was to get a Schoolmaster, as is fitting for a First Horse. In my plan I was going to visit a large number of barns within a hundred-fifty mile radius and meet a lot of horses and go on a lot of trial rides.

But, as they say, if you want to make God laugh, tell him (her, or it) your plans.

God’s laughing plenty now, I’m thinking.  Because the reality is that I’ve got the horse well ahead of schedule, I did no actual shopping, he’s almost twice as old as I expected, is learning dressage from scratch right along with me, has a very strong personality, isn’t very cuddly at all, and doesn’t understand the concept of “Whoa” (because he’s All Go).

And a Schoolmaster?  God is really laughing now, and I’m laughing right along with him (her, or it). Huey is a retired Grand Prix show jumper.  He collects and launches over a 6″ cavaletti like he’s planning to leap over the moon. He’s so responsive to the tiniest changes in his rider’s seat or hands that he’d seem almost psychic, to the untrained observer.  Not to mention that he assumes that “HO!” is the product of a speech impediment, and that what you really meant was “GO!”  Schoolmaster?  Maybe to a School of One, as my trainer said last week.

He was tried out as a Schoolmaster, because while he’s not cuddly, he is sweet, and he is willing – beyond willing.  And he’s fairly steady.  He’s not crazy, like a lot of high-level performance horses can get.  Pushy? Yes.  Neurotic? No.  He stands for grooming, the farrier, the dentist.  If he’s not personally vested in holding your attention, he’ll stand quietly for ages. But…he’s a little too high-performance for Schoolmastering.  He listens to and interprets every twitch of the seat and the reins, which lead – rather predictably – to any number of episodes involving shouts of “Huey! HO!!  HO!!  HHHOOOO!!!!!” and an adolescent girl being led away in tears.  Or, for my first time riding him, with a middle-aged woman being hauled off in an ambulance.

Now, because there are some who read this who don’t know that back story, I did not fall off the horse.  I jumped off the horse.  The distinction is important.  It was all, 100% of it, my fault.  The concussion was neither his fault nor mine.  It was an accident.  I have to make this clear because this happened well before I bought him.  I also have to make it clear that – once I could remember what happened (in general terms only) I had no concern for myself, but was vastly concerned for whether the horse was OK.

When I look back on it all, that’s the point where I started to know.  Know that this was my horse.  Or would be my horse, anyway.

So Huey’s second career as a Schoolmaster was a bust.  Too sensitive, too smart, too powerful.  He hated it, except for the pieces that involved me and a teenaged girl who rode him for lessons as well.  The two of us, he liked, and would do anything for.  I’m told that the saddest day (so far, in her relatively young) life was the day she heard I was buying him.

I didn’t know I was buying him until it happened.  The trainer needed to downsize the herd for winter.  Huey, who had been acquired due to his Schoolmastering Potential, was not working out in that job.  He was on the chopping block.  I received all of this information while we were doing serpentines in the ring.  I was startled.  He started to drop out of the trot in response.  I said “No, Huey, keep going!” and he picked it right back up while I thought.

I thought about riding any other horse after having experienced Huey.

I thought about any other human riding Huey, and maybe not being able to handle him, and passing him along, one person who wasn’t able to handle him to another, until he got sold for dog food.  This isn’t an absurd prospect – when the trainer bought Huey, he was in a chain shank over the nose because the handlers had such a difficult time with him.  He’s not actually difficult to handle, mind you, he’s forward and powerful and energetic and willful – all of those things you need if you’re going to compete successfully at high levels of show jumping.  He requires a combination of firmness, consistency, and patience.  He learns fast, but if he thinks his handler is meek or indecisive, he’ll take control and do what he thinks is best.  He’s not a kicker, or a rearer, or a bucker.  He’s smart, and he’s bossy. He’s not a horse for everyone.  He’s probably not even a horse for most people.

But, I knew, he is a horse for me.  And even though I can’t even count the number of horses I’ve ridden in my life – maybe 30? or 40? – I couldn’t remember a single one of them that could even touch Huey.  I couldn’t imagine wanting to ride any of them, when I could ride Huey.  And I didn’t want to imagine Huey winding up in the hands of someone who couldn’t handle him.  And, really, I did have the resources to have a horse now, even though that wasn’t the plan.  And my trainer, who loves Huey and wouldn’t have sold him for any amount if he’d been able to Schoolmaster, is willing to advise me on handling my challenging boy.  I do need that from time to time, but mostly, she says, we have a good relationship, he respects me (mostly), and I have a lot of common sense and know when to ask for help.

So Why do I have a horse? Why now? Why Huey?

Because any other outcome was unthinkable.  Because Huey is, therefore I am.  Because there is air.

And now, I’m going to have to go grapple with my boy who is bored and crabby because he’s out of work for the winter.  And when I saw him yesterday, his face was covered with effluvium from one of Uncle Jimmy’s Hanging Balls (no, really), which means that today is the day for a sponge bath.  I don’t think he’ll like it, but I’m sure he’ll deal.  I won’t give him an opportunity not to.

Wild Horses Don’t Do That!

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I knew today was going to be a special kind of day!  This morning, when the barn doors opened up, there was a wind.  It was one of those winds.  The one that gets it fingers into your mane and your tail and whispers into your ear how it does not matter that you live in a barn and eat from a big blue bucket…you are really a Wild Horse!  And when that wind comes in, what is a horse to do?  Listen to it, of course!

You know what the best thing was?  All the horses in the barn heard it.  And guess what?  We were wild together.  ALL DAY LONG.

That wind had been going around the barn for ages this morning, reminding all of us horses that we were Wild, before Laura came in with breakfast.  I was so excited to get out in the paddock and be Wild that I could hardly wait for my hay and grain.  I stamped around a lot to let Laura know that she should bring the grain and hay fast so that I could go out and be Wild.  And since I am the oldest and smartest horse in the barn, all the other horses thought this was a Good Idea and they stamped and made a big ruckus too.

I thought it was going to take forever to finish breakfast, but finally, I did, and I went out in the paddock.

And, yes, I was Wild.

I couldn’t be as Wild as I wanted to, because even though that wind said it is Spring, it is not Spring really, it is still Winter, even though it has not been snowing and stuff.  We have a lot of mud, and a bunch of the paddock is icy.  And even though I am Wild, I am not Stupid.  I do not want to break myself on some icy mud.  So I was just Wild where it was regular dirt.

I thought I was going to get to be Wild all day, but then guess who showed up? Right. It was my rider.  Not like we have gone riding in ages.  That makes me cranky.  It is not so much that I want to have to work, but before I got to be Wild this morning? I was bored.  Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored.  Go in the barn at night.  Eat some hay.  Go out to the paddock in the morning.  Eat some hay.  Stand around until more hay comes.  Eat the hay.  Go back in the barn at night. I remember when I used to get to do interesting stuff like going over huge jumps and running through the woods at 100 miles per hour, like the fast Super Horse that I am. But my rider does not do that, and she says I cannot jump, some silly thing about my knee and ankles.  But at least she takes me into the ring and we do some new stuff.  We have not done anything new in ages.  I haven’t even gotten to run around on the lunge line in ages.  The rider says it is too icy.  I think she should do something about that.

Anyway, my rider came, and she had the halter, and it is still icy, so I knew we were not going to do anything fun, just go in the barn and get combed and brushed like always.  She makes me do a horrible stretch now, she puts a pointy thing on my tummy and makes me lift it up.  I do not like that stretch.  She says I have to do it so that I will not be sore when we go riding again.  I still do not like it.  I swished my tail yesterday when she made me do it.  I did not want to do that stretch today, and I did not want to go in the barn and be combed and brushed.  And I really did not want her to put any of the stinky stuff on my hair that makes my blanket not ZAP me.

I said that, too.

I said “Hey, you rider. I am not going in that halter.  I am Wild today.  Wild horses do not go in the halter, and they do not get a bunch of brushing, and they really do not get smelly pink stuff to make the blankets not go zap, and they don’t have to wear blankets either! Because they are Wild!”

And I backed away from the rider.

Well, she did what she usually does if I do that, I guess she did not realize I was Wild.  She made the lead rope smack my butt.  When I am not Wild, this makes me need to run around the paddock.  Because I was Wild, it made me back up some more and glare at her.

She said “Huey, do not be silly. Go in the halter.”

And I remembered that even though I hate the stretch, and I am bored bored bored bored bored by getting combed and brushed, sometimes there is a carrot.  So I decided to go in the halter anyway, even though I was Wild.

I showed her that Wild horses don’t just go in the halter and act like they are not Wild.  The mares in the next paddock, they were Wild too, and they came running over like a whole little herd.  Since we were Wild, it was my herd, so I said to them “You mares! You be good while I am gone, or there will be trouble!” but they just laughed at me and said “Look at that stupid Huey!  He thinks he is the Boss of us!  Hahaha!! We will show him!” so they stuck their heads out and made faces, and I was scared and I jumped.

I did not jump forward like I would if I were going over a jump.  If I wanted to go over a jump, I could jump over any fence on the farm.  This is because I am a Champion jumper.  I jump things that are as high as buildings.  Or I would if my stupid rider would let me and not fuss about my knees and ankles so much.

But Wild horses don’t go over silly jumps.  They jump straight into the air! And that is what I did.

My rider snapped the lead line and said “You stop that, Huey! Behave, or else!”

And all the mares started laughing so hard one of them fell over and rolled.  They said “Ha ha ha! Huey!  Or else!! Ha Ha Ha!!”

So I was mad.  I made my special Mad Noise to let the rider know I was mad.  It is a good noise. I make my nose close up so I can hardly breathe through it, and then I breathe out, all at once, and as hard as I can!!  It makes a big noise.   And it is not like the other noises I make.  It is Mad.

My rider said “Huey! What is this Attitude!”

And I said “Wild horses don’t have Attitude!  They are just Wild!”

It was just what I thought, too.  I had to go in the cross ties, and there was no carrot, and I just had to get brushed like always.  Bored bored bored bored bored.

Laura was cleaning the barn and my rider said she should be careful behind me.  Laura is very smart, but she did not know I was Wild today.  She said “Huey would not do that” and my rider said “Well, he is Wild today, and I don’t know what he would do or not do today.” And she held onto my halter while Laura swept around my feet.  I would not kick Laura.  I don’t think I would.  But then the cat ran by and I jumped straight into the air again!  So maybe I might kick her.  You never know what a Wild horse will do.

Then my rider and Laura talked for a while, and then guess what?  Laura brought Glee into the barn!  And Glee was Wild too, and I said “HI GLEE!!” and he said “HI HUEY!!!” and then I saw the grooming brush and it scared me so I jumped straight into the air again.

My rider said “Huey, you are Too Wild today. ” and do you know what she had?

The lunge line.

Now, when I am not a Wild horse, I like to go on the lunge line, because it means I can run and it is safe and I will not get hurt.  And since I am bored bored bored bored lunging is a good thing.

But that wind was still there, and it said that Wild horses don’t go on the lunge line, so I gave a mean eye to the rider and I put my nose together and I made my Mad Noise again.

She said I would have to go twice as long, just for that.

On the way to the round pen, I was scared by the cat, and by a puddle on the ground, and by strange noise in the woods, and by the gate on the pen.  I did not realize that Wild horses got scared by so many things.  It is exhausting!!

My rider went in the middle, and even though I did not want to lunge, being Wild and all that, I could not help myself.  Usually I start by walking for a long time.  But that wind said that Wild horses do not walk, they trot.  So I had to trot.  And I trotted and trotted, and the rider said “Go Huey!” and she made the whip crack, and then I really showed her.  I bucked.  And I bucked again.  And I did not stop trotting!  I showed her I could buck AND trot.  This is what you get for being Wild.  And I cantered, and I trotted, and I put my nose down, and she made the whip crack, and then I had to run more.  And then she said “Huey! Walk!” and I got to take a break.  It was good, because I needed to get my breath back.

And the rider came over and scratched my neck, which I liked until I remembered I was Wild, and Wild horses don’t get their necks scratched.  And if they do, they don’t like it! So I jumped straight up in the air again, and the rider said “More lunging for you, Huey!”

I had to lunge until I thought my hoofs were going to fall off.

But…it didn’t run the Wild out of me!  Not all the way!

The rider cooled me off and brushed me with the smelly pink stuff and put my jacket back on, and took me back to the paddock.

I saw when I got there that the mares had started to take their fence apart.  The fence usually ZAPS us, but it didn’t then, and the mares took it apart.  Laura saw it and she was not happy.  She had to go fix it, and the mares were laughing like crazy.

The rider said I should get out of bed on the right side tomorrow, because too much Wildness isn’t good.

I said a horse can never be Wild enough, and then I was Wild all by myself in the paddock until it was time to come in to the barn for the night.

There was something scary in my stall when I got there!  It was a big ball hanging from the sky, and it rocked and it made me jump like crazy.  I was really scared of it until I realized it wasn’t coming any closer, so I went to go check it out.

And guess what?

It was some kind of food.  It was sweet, and hanging there.  I want to eat it all up but I can’t make it stop swinging.  My Wild horse just says to leave it alone, but…it’s sweet, and it’s food.

I think I may not be so Wild tonight.

Wild horses don't go in the cross-ties. But they don't get sweet sticky balls hanging in the barn, either.