Monthly Archives: March 2012

No, Really, He Wasn’t Exaggerating

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Well, maybe about it being the loudest fight ever at the barn…but about the rest?  Check it out:

Before:

This is some other horse from a catalog, but it is the same blanket. Very stylish it is, too. Looked great on Huey.

After:

The front of the jacket. Looks like the buckles held up! At the top you can see the fleecy neck pad, ripped right in half. I'm not even sure where the little shredded piece on the right belongs. I think some of the blanket must still be in the paddock.

The full monty. Note from the "Before" picture the lack of significant ventilation along the spine. The open flap on the right is the attachment point for one of the buckles - as with the front of the jacket, still attached.

It must have been one hell of a fight.  I’m really glad I didn’t have to watch it.  I’d have been quaking in my boots.  Huey managed to get out of it with only one bite mark on his face.  I’m not sure about Elvis.  They’ve both been taking a beating – nearly as bad as when Huey was turned out with Clay…Minor Injury Du Jour time.  Even now he’s got several stripes along his side where Clay nailed him and the hair is growing in a lighter color.  My beautiful boy is starting to look like a Prize Fighter.  It’s too bad that he went all nutty when Tango was in season – they actually got along very well (meaning: she kept him in his place with very little effort and he didn’t argue with her constantly).


I Am Glad That It Is Friday!!!

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Well, I thought this was being a bad week when it was only a sore leg, and a visit from the V, and a big Fat Eye from a stupid fly and the mares having a huge fight right behind me when I could not run away.  Now I know better.  But I will say the good things first.

One, my leg is not as sore.  I like the hot thing my rider puts on it, but then we always have to go in the little ring and I have to walk and run, and that is boring.  I want to go riding again.  My rider says Soon, we have to make sure your leg will not get sore again.  I think she wants to go riding some more too.

Two, the farrier came again!  It has not been long since he made my hoofs nice, so I was surprised this morning when after the very nice hot thing and the very boring run around the little ring thing, my rider put me back in my stall.  There was no hay there, and there was no grain, so I did not know why I had to go back there.  My rider said it was because the farrier was coming, but I said he was just here, it is not time.  And she said Huey, you are getting shoes today.

Well!  Shoes! I have not had shoes in AGES!!!  I wondered if I was ever going to have shoes again! But my rider said it was not having shoes that made my leg sore when we went riding, so it had to be shoes.

Then I was worried because the farrier with the shoes is not the Special Farrier I saw.  The farrier with my shoes was rough with my feet and did not put them down on the ground when he was done.  He dropped them.  My feet can handle being dropped, but I do not like it.  Also, my last shoes made my hoof get a crack, and I did not like that either.  I like it when my feet look nice.  But my rider said It is OK, it is the Special Farrier, he will make very good shoes for you.

And he did.  It took forever.  But, the good part is that my rider gave me some apple treat to chew on and I was not bored.  And now I have very nice shoes!  They feel different than my old shoes, and after I got my new shoes, I had to run in the little ring, and everyone said it looked good.  It felt good too!  Any minute now, I know, we will be riding again!!!

Here is the bad thing that happened.

Yesterday, after I had the nice warm thing on my leg and the stupid boring run around the little ring, and I did not get to finish my breakfast which made me very mad.  After that, my rider put my blue jacket on and my Wonder Horse Fly Mask and took me out to the paddock.

Well, Elvis was there.  And he was eating all of the hay.  All that time I was getting the hot thing and running in the little ring?  Elvis was eating my hay.  I did not like that, but I was thirsty and so I drank most of the water.  And then I went to deal with Elvis.

He did not want to go away from the hay, so I said Move, Elvis, I am the Wonder Horse.

And he said If you are the Wonder Horse how come you are not riding?

And I said It is because I cannot ride right now.  But I am wearing my Wonder Horse Fly Mask.  So you can tell that I am the Wonder Horse.  Now go away from the hay.

He did not like that.  But instead of screaming at me like he usually does, guess what he did?

He ran at my face, and he grabbed my Wonder Horse Fly Mask and he pulled on it.

Now, I do not like having my head pulled!!!  So I pulled back as hard as I could, and I am a very Strong Horse!  I can pull very hard!!! And I pulled and I screamed YOU LET GO OF MY HEAD, ELVIS!

And he did not scream anything at all because his teeth were clamped down on my mask.  And he kept pulling, and so did I, and then you know what happened?

That mask pulled right off my head!

And Elvis ran away with it.  And you know what he was doing?

He was laughing at me.

He said Hahahah, Huey!!  I have your stupid fly mask!!  Who is the Wonder Horse now?  Ha ha ha!!!

Well. I was not going to just stand there and listen to this.  One, he had my fly mask.  I need that to keep flies from giving me another Fat Eye.  I said YOU GIVE THAT BACK, ELVIS!!

But he just laughed some more and ran away further.

Well. That was it.  I have had enough of this.  He takes all the hay.  He is disrespectful.  And it was time to let him know that he should not do those things.

So I ran right after him!  I screamed YOU ARE A BAD HORSE, ELVIS!!  I AM COMING FOR YOU NOW! YOU BETTER RUN AWAY!!

And he dropped my fly mask and he screamed YOU THINK YOU ARE SO GREAT, HUEY!! BUT YOU ARE THE BAD HORSE!!  I AM NOT RUNNING AWAY FROM YOU!!!  I AM NOT A CHICKEN!!!

And we were screaming really loud and running all over the place.  Even the mares didn’t try to tell us to stop and they always are telling us to shut up and settle down.  But this was it.

Well.  There was Elvis and there was me, and I reared up and he did too.  And I went to bite him on the neck and he went to bite me on the neck.   I did not try to kick him, because one, I was not going to put my butt near his teeth, and two, I would rather bite.  Kicking is for the mares.  Also, Elvis is a big horse, but I am bigger, so I thought maybe I could just shove him and then bite him all over!!  But he had the same idea! He wanted to bite me all over too!  And when we weren’t biting, we were screaming.  I think it is the loudest fight there has ever been at the barn!

And you know what happened?

Elvis tried to bite my neck, and he missed.

He got my jacket instead.  The nice fuzzy part that goes over my neck.

So he grabbed my jacket with his teeth, and I screamed YOU LET GO OF ME, I AM GOING TO KICK YOU REALLY HARD!! and I turned around to get my feet right up where I could really land a hard one on his belly!  But when I did that, the jacket made a really loud noise!!! And then it started to fall off!!!  It had  rip, right down the back!  And there is Elvis, still holding on to part of it!

Well.  What happened next is that all of the horses were watching this, because it was a very good fight!  And everyone was quiet, and I stood there and Elvis stood there, and the mares said “oooooooo”.

And I thought Uh-oh.  My rider made a huge fuss about a tiny little tear in the blanket, but this was a huge tear. It went all the way to my butt!!!  I could not think what she was going to say about this.

So I gave my very best Angry Look to Elvis, and I pinned my ears, and I said You are really in trouble now!! And he dropped my jacket and we started fighting again.

The other bad thing is that I could not fight as well any more, because every time I tried to give Elvis a big fat bite, some piece of my jacket was in the way. I bit it, and he bit it, and then there were hundreds of giant rips in it.

Also, we were tired.  And the mares said we should stop, and so we did.  But my jacket was getting in my way like crazy and my fly mask was gone too.  I said to Elvis, We are not done yet.  If I did not have this jacket getting in my way all the time, I would be showing you!  But he said I am tired of fighting, Huey, I just want some more hay.  So we stood around to see when more hay would come.

Well, my rider came this morning, and somehow she already knew what happened.  She said Huey! I hear you destroyed your clothes yesterday in a fight! And I said Well, yes.  But it was a very good fight.  Elvis should not try to take all the hay.   And she said I should be more careful next time.  I said she should tell that to Elvis since he is the one who tore up my coat.  But she said I should not be fighting that much, and do not make excuses.  And then it was time for the hot pack and the boring run in the little ring.

So this week, I had a sore leg, the vet came, a fly gave me a Fat Eye, mares screamed at each other right behind my butt while I was tied up, I had a huge fight and ripped up my second-best raincoat, and I got new shoes.  I am glad the week is over soon!  I cannot take much more excitement!!

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At least I have my Wonder Horse Fly Mask back. And my rider said I am the Wonder Horse even if we are not riding, and even if I do not have any special clothes. So I am happy about that, and maybe I will get some more apple treats!

This Is Not Being A Good Week.

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I will tell you why.  It is a bunch of things.

First, as I said before, when I am riding with my rider, I am the Wonder Horse.  Elvis is not the Wonder Horse.  He is lazy.  I am not lazy.  Clay is not the Wonder Horse.  He is too young to be thee Wonder Horse.  Also, Pumpkin and Sprite are not the Wonder Horse because they are too young. Sprite passes out cold in her paddock every day and makes people wonder if she is OK.  I, because I am the Smartest Horse In The Barn, know that this is because she is growing.  She is taller than I am!  And she is not even three years old!! She is going to be huge!!!  And she needs lots of energy to grow, so I am not surprised that she falls over every day on the dirt and goes to sleep.

Big, grown horses know:  You sleep standing up.  In case something happens.

But Sprite is young and she does not know this yet. She lies down on the dirt and goes to sleep, like she is a Human in a Bed.  I told her she should not do this because Wolves Might Come.  Or Cows.  Scary things, anyway.  But she did not believe me, and she said “Huey, you worry too much.”

I said that I do not worry, I am old and I am wise. I know about these things.

But she did not believe me, so every day, she lies down in the dust and she goes to sleep.  For hours.

I wish I did not care that much.

For one, if I did that, Elvis would eat all of the hay. Sprite does not have to worry about this, because she only shares a paddock with Tango, usually, and Tango does not eat that much hay.

Me, if I fall asleep on the dirt, I will go to my stall hungry.  And I do not like to be hungry.

So I will tell you about this week.

You remember Last Week.

It was being a good week.

One, I was the Wonder Horse.

Two, I had a bath.  I do not like the bath, but I do like people standing around and saying “Huey, you are such a beautiful horse.”  And, I think, when I have a bath, people stand around and say this a lot.

This is because I am a beautiful horse.  I am red.  My rider says this:  I glow in the sunshine.

I do not know what “glow” means, but I do know that when my rider says “glow” I get some nice scratches on my face where it itches, and sometimes I get a carrot.

So since the Bath I have been getting a lot of carrots and scratches on my face.

Here is the part that is not so good: I am the Wonder Horse because I am the best  horse at riding in the barn.  Maybe some day Sprite will be as good as me, but she is very young and does not know what to do yet.  No other horse is as good at riding as me.  I am the best. Elvis is lazy.  Clay is a child.  That new mare is insane.  Tango is a pony and only gets ridden by children. Glee is a baby.  Pumpkin and Sprite are too young.  Bug is very good, but, well, he is too concerned about where Topaz is.  It is distracting.  I am the best.  My rider is not so great, but I will show her what to do.  That is me, the Wonder Horse.

But the part that is not so good? My leg hurts.  My rider was all worried that my back would hurt, but I told her, my back is fine, it is my leg that hurts.  My leg got messed up years ago when I was a Professional.  I used to go over jumps that were the size of the barn.  Elvis gets mean to me sometimes, he says “Huey, you are such a baby, whining about your leg!” and I say to him, “Elvis, you go over a jump the size of the barn and we can talk about who is the baby!”  He is not as old and wise as I am, and he is kind of silly about things.  But I show him, you bet.

So my rider was riding me, which was good,, because it was not boring, and you know?  I like teaching my rider stuff.  She thinks I am magical because when she thinks we turn, I turn.  She thinks it is ESP.  I know it is because I can feel what her butt does in the saddle when she thinks “turn”.  So I look like a Genius! And, in fact, I am just a Smart Horse.  But she is like a foal.  She does not know anything.  It is OK, even though she does not know anything at all, because she asks Laura all the time about what to do, and Laura knows everything.  She is the Boss Mare.  So my rider says we are going to learn dressage even though I am a jumping horse, and I say OK because I am also a Wonder Horse.

But Wonder Horses don’t have sore legs.  And I have a sore leg.  I did not have a sore leg when I had a shoe, even though the shoe was Too Small and did not Fit.  It was better than No shoe at all. And my rider said Let us try with no shoes, and because I am a Wonder Horse, I said OK we will try.

But it did not work very well and my leg was sore.  I tried not to show it, but my rider, she may be young and not know very much, but she is smart! She said Huey! I know your leg hurts!  We are not riding any more!

And she said the V-word.

Now, I did not want the V-word around, because I think it is time for Shots, and I do not like Shots.  But my rider said, Huey, I am making the Vet come out, and he is going to look at your leg, and he is going to make it feel better because I know that it hurts!  Even if you pretend it does not.

And I said OK. You can get the V out.  I will be Good.

So yesterday, the V-word came out. It is not my usual V.  My rider said it was a better V for sore legs, and I should be sure to tell everyone when it hurt!  Well, I was a smart horse and a good horse, and I stood there carefully for the V.  I do not want to scare anyone by using the real word, so I just say “V” but You Know Who I Mean…

Well.  The V squeezed my leg up and down, and I said to the rider, Are You Sure? and she said Yes, He Will Make You Feel Better.  And then I had to run in rings, and then – this was very weird! – my rider ran with me, up and down!! I was very brave and the V said he could not see it, but he could hear it. And my rider said, See, Huey, I told you he was the Wonder Vet!  You are one lucky horse!! And I was, because everyone stood around talking for a while, and I poked my rider with my nose to say Do not forget that I am here!!! and she said You stop that Huey, I am listening to the vet!  And she made me go backwards, so I knew she was paying attention.  And then I went out and had a nice fight with Elvis over the hay.

Today, I thought that I would have a nice quiet day because the rider said we could not ride, and I was out with Elvis and everything was good.

Only? You know what?

The bugs came up.

I hate bugs.

I mean, I really hate bugs.

Usually, I have my Wonder Horse Fly Mask, and I get a Wonder Horse Fly Spray, and the bugs are not too bad.

But today?  I did not have the Fly Mask or the Fly Spray.

And you know what happened?

There were horrible bugs.  I stomped my feet, only my leg hurt. So I swished my tail.  I did not like getting my tail sprayed with stinky pink stuff and combed at the bath, but I have to say, it works better as a fly thing since then.  And I swished it like crazy.  And I shook my head, and I wondered why  I did not have my Wonder Horse Fly Mask.

And then?

A bug landed on my face.

I shook my face as hard as I could, but it did not go!

And then you know what happened?

That bug? It bit me.  It bit  me on the eyelid!!

And then you know what?

My eye got all fat!  I could hardly see out out it!  I could only see from one eye!  And one eye for a horse is almost nothing!!!

Elvis went in to the barn, and I screamed until I got to go in the barn too, even though I could only see from one eye.

There was hay there, so I felt a little better.

And then you know what?

My rider came.

And you know what?

She made me go in the cross-ties, with one eye, and she said Huey, I have something to make your leg feel better!

And she brushed that leg, and she put something hot on it. I was not sure I wanted something hot on it because there were bugs and I wanted to stomp those bugs, but she said You Hold Still! so I did, and she made something warm on my sore leg.  My leg wasn’t sore any more.  Just so you know.  There was something smelly in my grain last night after the V was there, but it tasted like apples so I ate it, and now my sore leg feels better.

It felt even better with the hot thing on it from my rider.

But then, you know what? She made a squirty thing go near my eye that was all fat!  I was scared!!!  And she said Huey, do not be scared, this is good for you! But I said You put something near my eye and I am scared of that!  But she squirted it anyway and it was OK.

Then she had something else to put near my eye.  I said Do not put anything near my Fat Eye!!  I am always scared of things near my eyes!  And I am scared now!!

But my rider said Huey, it is OK, this is going to make your Fat Eye feel better!  Just try it.

And she meant is, so I did, and you know?  She was right. It did feel better.  She took it off, and I said No!  You should leave that on! And I pushed my Fat Eye onto it!!

I had the cool thing on my Fat Eye for a long time, and then I got a brush.

Then! There was somethingexciting!!!

I was there, minding my own business and getting brushed and having warm things on my Sore Leg and cool things on my Fat Eye, and you know what?!?!?

There was another horse! It was behind me!!

I said Hey! There is not supposed to be any horse behind me when I am in the cross ties!!!

And my rider was there and she said OH NO! It is Sprite!!

And I said What do you mean, it is Sprite? Sprite is in that stall!

And my rider said NO! It is Sprite! She let herself out of her stall and she is going to visit Topaz!  You stand still, Huey!

And I said What do you mean she let herself out of her stall?  Horses cannot do that!

And my rider said Well, her stall was getting cleaned or something and she found a way out!

And I said I am going to do that too!  But wait, there is another horse behind me?!?!

And I thought about Sprite, because she is young and anything can happen, and I did not want anything to happen where I could not see it!

And just then, you know what happened?

Two mares screamed at each other.  Right behind me.

And then you know what happened?

Right.  I am no dummy.  I do not want to be anywhere around two mares that are screaming at each other, because they might have a fight.  And while I do not mind fighting with horses like Elvis or dummies like Clay. I am not going to be a part of a fight between mares.  So I screamed.  I screamed HEY YOU MARES!  THERE IS AN INNOCENT HORSE HERE, AND I DO NOT WANT TO FIGHT! BUT YOU ARE BOTH RIGHT BEHIND ME!! LET ME GO!! and I tried to jump forward to get out of their way.  They did not pay any attention to me, because they are mares and they just screamed HEY! YOU MARE!  I AM THE BOSS HERE!! and the other mare screamed PROVE IT!!!! and I jumped. And it was Not Good.  My rider had the rope and said Huey, they are mares, you are OK but what does she know?!?! She is a mare!! She does not understand what it s like for us boys!! So I screamed at my rider GET ME OUT OF HERE FAST!! and she said she was trying and I should hold still while she got the ties undone.

And then, thank heavens?  Laura came in.  Laura is the Boss Mare.  All the mares know this.  Sprite, Topaz, Tango, Pumpkin, they all know who is in charge.  And I do  too.  And when Laura came in, I knew it was going to be OK.  So I looked around and you know who was right there?  Right.  That dummy Clay.  So I thought I would take a minute to remind Clay who was Boss (when they mares are not around) and I went right to it..  And I was about to tell him just how much of a dummy he is, when something whapped me on the shoulder.  And you know what that was?

The lead rope.

Because my rider was standing right there.  And I have told you, she does not like it when we horses air our differences and she is around.  Well, I was just so much that because of the Big Fight with the mares and having to be let out of the cross-ties and stuff, the when my rider said Huey! You stop that!  I just whipped my head around from Clay.  And you know what I saw then?

That’s right.

Bug.

And I realized I needed to tell Bug who was boss.  Now, this is more complicated than it is with Clay, because he is just a kid, so I can put him in his place easy.  And it’s more complicated than it is with Elvis, because I can just say to him, You are one lazy horse! and he says Yeah, I am lazy all right! but he does not understand that this is Not Good to be lazy. He thinks is is a Good Thing.  I know that it makes him a Bad Horse.

But Bug is old, like I am, and he is wise, and he does not fight with the other horses.  He just makes sure that Topaz knows he is Boss.  And he is Boss of one of the mares, so that makes him Important.

So when I saw, he was there, and the mares were still fighting, and my rider was messing around with the cross ties, and Laura was saying What is going on here?!?! I said Bug, I am going to show you!!!  And I put my nose up and I blew my nose at him!  And I said So there, Bug!!  And he blew his nose at me, and said So there, Huey! and were were going to get into it! But then my rider took my head and made me walk away.

Stupid rider.

So then Sprite had to go back in her stall, and Topaz had to eat some soggy hay cubes, and I had to go in the cross-ties backwards and Bug said We will take this up later, Huey! and then I had to work in the round pen.

I wanted to hang out with my rider because 1) my leg usually hurts when I am running around, and 2) she has treats that taste like apples but she made me go away from her and run around the ring.  The good news?  It did not hurt as much as it did!  So I kicked  up my heels, and I raced around the ring!  If I did not have a Fat Eye, it would have been perfect!!  But I did have a Fat Eye, and my rider made me stop and turn around a bunch of times.  I wanted to go in one direction and she made me go the other way.  It was not fair.  But at least it did not hurt!! Or, it did not hurt much!!!

Then she made me stop, and she put my back in my stall where I could eat hay.

I hope tomorrow is better.  No Fat Eyes, no sore legs, no fights with mares right on my butt.

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No one has said I am the Wonder Horse in ages. I am thinking this means I am not the Wonder Horse any more, and I hope that Elvis is not either. It is being a rough week. But if I close my eyes and think about things like apples and carrots, it is better.

Why Having A Horse Is Like Having A Kid

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1.
If you aren’t 100% consistent, if you don’t establish and communicate a firm set of rules and boundaries, and if you give in to the temptation to just love all over your precious horse [human offspring]…you have a near 100% chance of winding up with behavior problems.  Sassing has to get checked, even if it’s funny.  Pushiness has to be resisted, even if it’s not convenient.  Otherwise, you wind up with a 1,200 pound Death Machine [Juvenile Delinquent].

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The vast majority of things to which you have to deliver a firm “NO!” are things that make you want to laugh so hard you fall down, or that are really, really cute.  The problem is not with the first wave, it’s with the way these things will develop if left undone.

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The remaining thing that you have to dissuade that isn’t cute or funny is Biting.  I think every one of my friends who have kids has gone through this with at least one of them:  you pick up your Darling Toddler from the preschool, and the teacher has the Big Frown and says “We need to talk about Darling.”  That’s when you find out that Darling arrived at that most mammalian of conclusions:  biting is a great way to get what you want.  Unfortunately, it’s also a great way to get kicked out of preschool.  If you’re really unlucky, you don’t have the Big Talk when you pick up Darling, you get the Phone Call of Doom in the middle of your work day.  Fortunately, sort of, horses are expected to bite each other.  It’s not desirable but it’s not, I think, something that is likely to get Darling Pony kicked out of the barn.  Might create some problems when it comes to the Sticky Question of Turnout.  I’m well familiar with that scene.  Thank heavens my barn owner loves Huey, that’s all I have to say on that.

No, the big problem with biting in re: Darling Pony is when the little blighter bites you.  I went through this phase with Huey this winter.  With horses, it usually starts cute:  Darling Pony wants to Snuffle Your Hand with her cute wittle muzzle.  This is so cute it’s impossible to resist, for the amateur.  I don’t know about for the professional, I can’t speak for that end of things.  But having Darling Pony wuffle around with her whiskery chin and fuzzy rubber lips is…well, even just thinking about it, it makes me want to stick my hand right out for some of that.

Then it moves on to silly giggle time, when Darling Pony escalates to lipping.  Horse lips are magical things.  They’re all rubbery and elastic, but they’re soft.  They’re like a fuzzy short elephant trunk.  Horses can do all kinds of things with their lips, including sticking them out from their teeth by six inches.  Huey’s BFF Tango purses hers up and makes a pout.  Huey can make a frown.  And while he doesn’t have the awesomely prehensile lips that Tango has, he can use his to pick things up, and to play with my clothes.  That’s cute.  Just thinking of his lips makes me want to stick my hand right out for some of that.

Unfortunately, the next thing that happens is biting.  When Huey went through that phase, he’d be hanging out and I’d be (misguidedly, but uncontrollably) letting him put his lips on me, and the next thing I know, NIP.

Horses have really big teeth.  They’re huge, like piano keys.  And they’re flat.  And, because they spend hours and hours every day masticating big lumps of dried hay, they also have very strong jaws.  Getting nipped by a horse is no fun at all.  So when Huey went to that stage, I had to be Mister Tough for a while and not let him put his mouth on me at all.  This created some Issues for us, because we both like it when he’s got his mouth on me.  I still think it’s cute, even though I know it’s not right.  I am pretty sure he considers it bonding behavior.  So we had to go through a zero-tolerance thing, and now I’m seeing if it’s possible to draw the line without going overboard.

Then there’s the Accidental Bite.  I had one of those today.  When I went to the barn I brought with me some of the Orange Gold.  C. A. R. R. O. T. S.

I have to spell it because he knows the word.  It’s like saying “treat?” to a dog.  Or possibly just waving a steak under the dog’s nose.  It flips the Carrot Hound Switch on in his brain, and nothing else happens until he scores.

Horses either have God’s Own Sense of Smell, or possibly they have ESP.  I know this because the c. a. r. r. o. t. s. were buried in an inside pocket of my jacket, yet when I went into the paddock, Elvis zeroed directly in on that pocket from across the paddock.  I had to push him off.  I think he told Huey about them, because Huey was strangely co-operative with the halter (see #4, below) and when we got into the barn, his muzzle stayed firmly pointed in the direction of that pocket, no matter where I went.  He also wanted to sniff my hand.  This is OK, and it’s important, even, so I’m letting him do that while I scratch his forehead, and next thing I know WHAM! Super Genius mistook one of my fingers for the Orange Stick of Goodness.  YOW!! I yelled, and he pulled back with his eyes wide and white.  OOPS!!  Silly horse.

4.
You get to play the I Don’t Wanna Get Dressed Game.  I remember this one quite well.  Little kids have an endless bag of tricks when it comes to avoiding getting dressed.  The noodle arms.  The limp legs.  The stiff angled foot.  The starfish hand.  The hiding under the bed.  It doesn’t seem to matter what they’re getting dressed for, They Don’t WANNA.  Get kid out of bed, take off PJs, put on shorts and a t-shirt.  It’s a 15 minute ordeal.  And it’s not that the kid doesn’t want to leave the PJs, because you’re going to have the exact same battle in reverse at the end of the day.

Horses?  I Don’t Wanna Go In The Halter Game.  Huey started this one up this fall.  This game costs him a lot more than it costs me.  I just have to spend extra time collecting him, and access a bottomless pit of patience.  He, on the other hand, has to spend that entire time trotting (or, sometimes, cantering and even galloping) in his paddock, and he doesn’t get to stop until he decides that he’s going to stand and go in the halter.  Once the halter is on, there’s no further nonsense, but getting to “halter” is an extended process of late.

5.
Last, but certainly not least…you anticipate the arrival of your horse [offspring] with complete and total eagerness, waiting anxiously for the moment when it will be All Yours and you will go together into a Life Of Bliss…and you spend approximately ten seconds in that State of Bliss…and then the horror starts.  You stare, with eyes of admiring love at your horse [baby] and as you do, the realization that this precious creature is both ultimately fragile and completely dependent on you begins to dawn.  And you realize all of the ghastly things that can go wrong, and – especially if you’ve been paying attention, or this isn’t your first – you know that at least some of that will happen.  And you can’t prevent them from happening.  And you start to lose sleep.  Yeah, new parents always write the sleepless nights off to baby colic, or nighttime feedings, but I know the truth.  You’re worried.  Something will happen. Something might be happening right now.  Come on. Tell me, you parents, that you never got up in the middle of the night to go look at your baby just to make sure it was still breathing.  Do it, and I’ll call you a liar.

Believe me, it’s not that different when it’s a horse.  Only, Huey doesn’t live with me.  The only thing that keeps me from sneaking out into his stall to make sure he’s still breathing some nights is that it’s a 10 minute drive.  Probably just as well, that, because the person Huey does live with is a sensible individual, not given to nighttime freaks like that.  Or if she was, she’s gotten over it.  Or, hell, what do I know, maybe she does sneak out to the barn in the middle of the night to make sure all the horses are still breathing.

I’ve got to say this – for those of you who don’t know me personally – I’m not given to nighttime freaks, or daytime freaks, or any other kind of freaks.  I think I’m generally regarded as an individual of a strong mind and powerful common sense.  But…all those parents out there swearing that It’s Different When It’s Your Own are right.  I’m not nearly as concerned about other horses.  Nor am I particularly concerned about kids, my friends, my spouse, or myself (despite all indications that a different perspective might be helpful from time to time).  Bah.   People can take care of themselves.  Huey, on the other hand…

So, I discovered as soon as he became Mine, he came along with a small but persistent and pervasive package of Anxiety.  This is a novel sensation for me, anxiety.  And as hard as I have tried to assure myself that He Is Fine, It Is Fine, Everything Is Fine, I can’t shake it.  I was able to bury it with skiing, which was nicely restful.  But now skiing is over, and the Anxiety is flourishing right along with the daffodils.

And what I find, appallingly enough, is that no matter of indulging in Oh My God What If thinking makes it better when something does happen.  I know this because something has.

Huey is lame.

He’s not super lame.  He’s walking on all four feet.  But as soon as I put him back into work 10 days ago, I noticed that his trot was…choppy.  He doesn’t usually have a choppy anything.  Floaty? Yes.  Huge? Yes.  Choppy? No.  The first time I rode him any amount of time (which was not much at all, maybe 4 minutes) I thought something was strange. The second time, as I was incrementing up his work a bit, Iknew something was strange.  The third time, I identified what it was.  He was favoring his front right leg.

Now, that leg is…complicated.  Huey the Wonder Horse had a full career before he came to me, and by all indicators, it was full of excitement, adrenaline, and the occasional injuries.  He has splints on his legs.  He has some arthritic changes.  He’s lost three teeth.  He’s got some funky thing with the angles on his front right hoof, that the old farrier dealt with by putting a wedge on, but too-small shoes.  The new farrier, the Farrier Of The Gods, hasn’t shoed him yet, because we pulled his shoes over the winter for Hoof Health.  The FOTG and the chiropractor think that the problem isn’t in his hoof, but in his suspensory (a ligament that goes from his knee to his ankle). It’s further complicated by the fact that wearing this wedge was a little like wearing a high-heeled shoe, and for you non-shoe-people, this makes your calves and hamstring muscles tighten up.  And either the suspensory thing or the hoof thing or – incredibly – the missing teeth (on that same side of his body) make his shoulder there tight.  So I massage his shoulder, I have some stretches for his hamstring (or whatever it’s called for a horse), and I’ve had several discussions about whether he needs shoes or he should be kept barefoot.

So when I became aware that he was favoring that leg at the trot, I realized it wasn’t going to be an Easy Thing to get this sorted out.  But I also wasn’t sure if it was my imagination, or if I was riding him improperly, etc.  So I waited a few days and then I got my trainer to watch him.  Yes, she said, when she looked closely, she could see that something was going on.  To me on his back, it felt huge.  But she said it was pretty subtle.

It wasn’t so subtle yesterday, meaning, it’s gotten worse.  And today, he was doing it without any weight on his back at all.

So here, in a dreadful turn, is the last way I think having horses is like having a kid.

Because when something goes wrong – as you had to have known that it would unless you’re a totally hopeless Pollyanna – you blame yourself. Yes.  Even though I know that Huey’s got something going with that leg, and have a reasonable idea of what kind of thing is it…I am still totally sure that I caused this.  Every rational cell in my brain says not to be absurd, that the horse has been off work for three months, he’s 18, it’s unlikely that he’s going to make a totally smooth transition back into work.  Every rational cell in my brain says that when there is a problem, because it is a when and not an if, it is going to be with the right front leg.  And every rational cell in my brain says that this is really not at all surprising, it’s to be expected, it’s almost certainly reparable, that I just need to get the vet and the farrier to attend to this.

And the Horse Mom part of my brain says yadda-yadda-yadda, blah blah blah none of that matters, I. broke. the. horse.

Holy cow, I thought that the anxiety over What Could Happen was bad.  It’s not a patch on the anxiety over Something Happened. I’m horrified.  I’m appalled.  And I’ve been a Conversational Zero the last two days while I was trying to figure out what to do.

5.
And, really, this is the last way in which these things are the same:  If Something Is Going To Happen, It Will Happen At The Worst Possible Time.  On the second day of a two-week vacation.  In the middle of the night.  On a Sunday.  On a Saturday night.  Saturday of a three-day weekend.  Christmas morning.  It’s like there’s a magic witching hour, or cursing hour, that ensures that whatever goes wrong, it will go wrong at a time when you are least likely to have access to your Regular Medical Care.  In my case, here, right as the vet is going on vacation.  I don’t know if he’s left already, and I have to wait until tomorrow to find out. Why this couldn’t have become obvious last week, when I was on spring break and had all the time in the world, and the vet was in town, I don’t know.  Oh, wait.  It always happens that way.

Ask any parent you know.

But I Did Not WANT A Bath.

Standard

I thought it was still going to be winter now, but it is very hot, just like summer!  And we are riding a bunch!  Well, maybe not a bunch but a bunch more than we were riding.  My rider comes to get me and then we ride, but it is over almost as soon as we are started.  I am hardly trotting around at all!  My rider says that I must not work too hard now or my back will be sore, but she is silly.  I can work lots more than this!  At least it is more interesting than just hanging out in the paddock with Elvis.

Elvis is still being a pain.  He wants to eat all the food, but I do not let him.  Then we scream at each other until the mares tell us to stop.  If I am not allowed to scream at Elvis, I will bite him instead.  If he is not allowed to scream at me, he kicks me.  He kicked the hair right off the inside of my hock!  You might say, but how did Elvis get his hoof up inside your hock, Huey? And the answer to that is that I do not really know.  I was biting his neck at the time.  I bit the hair right off it.  Then we did not care about the mares, and he screamed YOU BIT ME, HUEY!! And I screamed WELL, YOU KICKED ME!! and he screamed YOU STOP DOING THAT, HUEY! and I screamed WELL YOU LEAVE THE HAY ALONE! and he screamed NO! IT IS MY HAY! and I screamed NO IT IS NOT!!!  IT IS FOR BOTH OF US! and then the mares said that if we did not stop screaming, they were going to take the fence down again and come kick both of us.  Well, I am One Tough Horse, but I know better than the mess with the mares.  I am no dummy.

It was good today because we did not go to the paddock!  We went out at night and then all of us horses stayed in the barn during the day!  We never do that!! But Laura said it was because it is too hot and the bugs are bad, and they would be less bad in the barn, and they were.  I was not bothered at all by the bugs in my stall.  I have a special Wonder Horse Fly Mask.  I forgot about my fly mask and then yesterday when my rider put it on I panicked because I forgot about it, but she said “Huey, this is your fly mask, silly, it keeps the bugs off your eyes.” and I looked at it again and I realized that it was.  So I put my head down.  It is special because it is beautiful and blue and it has fur on it that is soft.  Elvis just has an Ordinary Horse fly mask like every other horse in the barn.  This is because he is not a Wonder Horse.  His is gray and it is not at all pretty.  Mine is beautiful.

So there I was in my stall, talking to my BFF Tango through the wall, eating my lunch, and here came my rider.  I thought we were going to ride, but no.  She left me in my stall and did a lot of things and there was water.  Then she took me outside, but we did not go into the arena or the little ring.  She took me to the hitching post.

It has been a very long time since I went to the hitching post.  I like the hitching post because it is exactly the right height for me to put my teeth on and suck air.  But then the rider started spraying my legs with the hose and I realized I was going to have to have a bath.  I was confused because I have baths to get ready for a show, but my rider does not take me into shows.  I don’t think she is good enough for a show.  I am, but we don’t do the kind of thing that I am used to doing in shows, which is jumping over lots of very tall fences!  I am a jumping horse!! But we do not jump together.  She said we were going to learn to dance instead.  I said OK, whatever you want.  But then I did not know why I had to have a bath if there was not a show.

My rider said it is because I was too dirty.  I said, how can a horse be too dirty?  I have worked very hard to be this dirty! I do not want you to take my dirt off again! But she did not listen and she kept making the water go on me.  And then there wasshampoo.  At least it was not stinky shampoo like the stuff she put on my hair to make it stop going ZAP with the blankets.

But then she put that stinky stuff on my mane.  I did not like that!!!  I said You stop putting that stuff on me! but she said not to be silly and kept doing it.  I tried to back away, but guess what?!?  A MONSTER GRABBED MY HEAD!!!  I do not like Head Grabbing Monsters, so I tried to jump up and go backward as fast as I could!!! And the rider said HUEY! and she used the special voice that means I have to listen to it no matter what.  So I looked at her and she said “That is not a monster! That is the hitching post!” and I looked at it, and she was right.  It was the hitching post.  It was silly to be scared of the hitching post, so I put my head back down and let her fix the halter.  I made it too tight trying to run away from the hitching post.  I still did not like the stinky stuff, but then the rider started to comb my mane, and that feels good, so I let her.

Then she soaked my tail and good and put a ton of the pink stinky stuff on it and combed it.  She took forever.  I was bored, so I started to use that hitching post and suck air.  Usually the rider does not let me suck air, she says it is bad for my teeth, but she did not notice me doing it because she did not make me stop.  And then she was done, and everyone stood around and said Huey! You are such a beautiful horse!!  My rider said I was a Horse Of A Different Color now, but I think that was silly.  I am just red, except where I am white.

But, this is very cool, I have pictures.  I did not like to get a bath, but I have to say, everyone was right, and I am a beautiful horse.  I will show you my pictures now.

This is me. See all the nice dirt I had before that bath?

Dirt like this doesn't just happen, you know. You have to WORK for it.

Here I am all wet. I am making my special Mad Face so that my rider will know that I do not WANT to have a bath. Also, I do not like this picture because it makes my neck look thin.

Here I am using the hitching post to suck air! But my neck still looks thin in this picture. I do not like that. I think I am better looking in person.

 

I have the most beautiful halter in the barn! I think green is my color!!!

This is my BFF Tango!!! She is a pony, so she has to work to put her head over the wall! I just put my head there, and it is easy.

This is Tango again. She said I should include this one because it is her Better Side. I think the other one is her Better Side. So we just put both in. My rider laughed and said that Tango makes her lips pout, and it is very cute.

This is Bug. He wanted to taste my rider's hair yesterday. He has a good fly mask, too. He hates bugs worse than I do, and it is funny that his name is Bug!!!

This is that dummy Clay. The pink thing on the side is the cross-tie that he likes to yank on when another horse is tied up there. Right now, he is watching Elvis have to work in the ring.

 

This is me and Tango talking through the wall. She watches while I eat, and I watch while she eats. Then we are safe. No birds or monsters will frighten us!!