Monthly Archives: April 2013

Not QUITE Arnold Palmer

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I was in my first-ever golf tournament yesterday.  This was also my first-ever round of 18 holes, since Roy and I usually play at the nearby 9-hole course.  And it was my first-ever time playing golf with someone other than Roy.

All of this took a lot of Mental Preparation, since – despite my profound enjoyment of the sport – I basically suck at golf.  My putting is atrocious AND I’m a short-hitter.  Even in the ultra-mellow environment of my local driving ranges, my max personal range for a drive is about 150 yards.  I don’t know what the problem is.  I just can’t see to hit the ball any further than that.

The one thing I have working in my favor is that – for the most part – my drives are straight.  So are my pitches.  As long as I take the extra minute to check that everything is lined up and pointed where it oughtta be, and I take the second extra minute to concentrate and keep my grip on the club nice and light, and I don’t pick my head up, my drives go pretty much where I want them to…as long as that point is within 150 yards.  It doesn’t seem to matter which club I use, either.  I can clock the ball 150 yards just as far with my 8-iron as I can with my 3-wood or my driver.  It’s clear that there’s a golf lesson in my future on this one, because it’s starting to drive me nuts.

Fortunately, this golf tournament was a scramble, which means that the entire foursome tees off, and whichever ball winds up in the best position, everyone plays from that point.  This is essential for this kind of tournament, which had everyone from hard-hitting financial services professionals who do a lot of business on the golf course, and are thus extremely good at golf, to dedicated amateurs, to me, to a huge swarm of people who were just learning how to hold a club.  If you insist that everyone play the ball they hit, the game will never finish by dark, and you’ll wind up with 16 carts piled up at the same hole waiting for the person who is moving the ball down the fairway 10 yards at a time. 

Even more fortunately, I was not at any point the person who was moving the ball down the fairway 10 yards at a time.  This, alone, came as a pleasant surprise.  The other members of my foursome were vastly more skilled than I am and – more to the point – capable of actually clocking the ball down to the green in one stroke on a par 3.  One of the guys in my foursome was sufficiently Hard Core that he was golfing without any woods at all.  This dude was driving with a two iron.  I’ve never even seentwo iron.  And to beat that, he even had a ONE IRON in his bag, and actually used it a few times.  Anyone who golfs understands what I’m saying here.  People who don’t golf won’t just get it, but for you people, this is approximately like saying the guy built an entire motorcycle in his garage on his spare time from his job as an accountant, and built it out of spare parts he found just lying around, AND he now uses that scrap bike and WINS races on the weekend.  Or it’s like saying that he picked up a pair of branches that fell down from the backyard tree after a storm, and whittled a pair of skis out of them, and then used the home-made skis to win a world-cup slalom race.  It’s not just hardcore, it’s exotic and a little weird. It’s awe-inspiringly hardcore.  Like a saddling up a woolly mammoth and having a rodeo.  Like eating a steak from the dinosaur you shot yourself.  It’s intense.

Anyway, those guys kept the ball moving along, and our group finished 3 over par.  Everyone at the end was, of course, asking everyone else how the game had gone, and my partners were cheerful yet humble. “Not bad” they said.  “OK” they said.   While I?  I was jumping around and doing the Happy Dance, because WOW!! ONLY THREE OVER PAR!!!!

And.  And.  AND.  This is the best thing yet.  I only lost one ball in the entire game.

This is a Colossal Personal Achievement.  To put it into perspective, when Roy and I play, we “keep score” by keeping count of the number of balls we have lost.  I don’t mean the number of balls that rolled off the fairway or went into the rough or wound up under a tree.  I mean lost.  Permanently, completely, irrevocably gone.

To date, our Record Low Score (because in golf, low=good) so far is five (5).  One game, we only lost five (5) balls.  In nine (9) holes.  We were thrilled.  Only lost 5 balls?  Hot diggity dog!!! Only 5 balls!!!

I know that balls are technically sold in “sleeves” that consist of, I don’t know, 3-5 balls, somewhere in there.  And I know that people can buy cute balls, ones that have colors, or fun designs, or monograms and stuff.  My grasp of all of this is a bit vague, because due to the implications of “keeping score” by counting how many balls are permanently lost in 9 holes of golf, and the record being five (5), it is not within my grasp to contemplate buying Fancy Balls.  Not when I’m guaranteed to lose all of them within 9 holes or fewer.  No.  When I buy golf balls, I buy them in huge net sacks, and preferably, they’re recycled (i.e., some Golf Ball Finding professional has scavenged them out of the woods and off the bottom of the water hazards, and packaged them up for resale).  This is the most sensible approach for me and Roy.  Cheap, easy-come, easy-go.

dream of the day when it’s worth my while to get fun golf balls.

So you can imagine my surprise, shock, and thrill when I discovered, halfway through the 18-hole game, that I was still playing with the same ball I’d started the game with.  I was so elated that when I finally did lose the ball – on a hole with a wicked water hazard where everyone in my foursome lost at least one ball – my teammates actually tried to fish it back out of the water for me.  It was a very touching gesture.  They wanted me to have the spectacular thrill of completing an entire game with the same ball.

My consolation, other than having teammates who were tremendously supportive, was in hearing all about that hole when we got back to the 19th hole.  Apparently, that pond ate enough balls yesterday to supply my next two Big Sack O’ Recycled Ball purchases.

I’d like to interpret this all as meaning that my days of scoring by lost balls are over, but the other effect that golfing this course had for me was to illustrate just how deadly my regular 9-hole course is.  Hey.  We don’t know a lot about golf, me and Roy, and the course is down the street – on the way to Huey’s barn, no less – and it’s 9 holes, and it’s pretty compact, and it’s not super-expensive, that’s where we go.

It’s also freaking lethal.  Sure, the fairways aren’t super long like they are in some places. But they make up for this by being hilly and narrow.  And other design features…the par-5 on this course was designed by Scarlet Fiends From The Deepest Pits of Hell.  One one side, from tee to green, it’s a solid and impenetrable thicket.  If a ball goes even one foot into that, it’s lost forever.  On the other side, from tee to green, the fairway is flanked by a 20-foot wide actively running brook.  Ball goes in there, it’s 30 yards downstream before you even get the club back into your bag.  This combination is bad enough, but there is another water hazard, another brook that cuts directly across the fairway about three-quarters the way down.  That’s three major ways (thicket, two brooks) to permanently lose a ball.

And the green?  It sits atop a volcano-shaped pimple and has bunkers – sand-traps – on three sides of it.  So if you don’t hit your ball such that it drops onto the green and doesn’t roll…at a minimum, you’ll find yourself searching for your Sand Wedge.  The alternative is that the ball is Gone Forever.  Usually, we can count on losing four balls minimum when we get to this hole on our usual course.

Then there’s another hole where the green is pretty close to the tee – not close enough to pitch onto it, you still have to drive the ball, but there’s a whacking huge pond directly in front of the green, and bunkers behind.  There, too, if you don’t hit the ball exactly right, you either lose it, or get ready to visit the beach.

This course I played on yesterday, on the other hand, had very long fairways, but they were wide.  And only two holes had water hazards.  And there were trees, but it was all wide open under them, so if you ball went in there, you could get it out.   It was a Kinder Gentler course than I’m used to.  But it did make me grateful for the hardships of my usual place.  After that, just about anything is going to look approachable.  I can hardly wait to play in another tournament.

Now, if I can only get the ball to carry more than 150 yards…

Schooner and Edgartown Light

The weather says “spring” but my mind says “SUMMER!” Only one week left in the term, then finals, then…

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Springing

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In the last week, while I’ve been glued to the TV and computer watching the horrible events unfolding for my neighbors down the road in Boston, spring arrived.  I’m not sure when, exactly, it happened.  But I am sure when, exactly, I noticed.

Roy’s been gone all week, which is the worst.  I left a voice mail for him last night telling him that in the future, he is NOT allowed to leave the country when terrorists are on the loose in Boston.  It’s going to be a relationship rule, right up there with “clean beard shavings from the sink” and “leave the seat down”.  He gets back later today, and I can hardly wait.  But in the meantime, I needed to decompress.  All horse people will know that the best possible thing to do when you need to decompress is to go to the Barn, and off I went.  I wanted to ride, but it was windy, which puts bugs in Huey’s brain and makes him think he’s a Wild Horse.  And the ring was soaking wet, and I just didn’t think the combination of uneven muddy footing and Wild Horse time was a desirable one, so I thought I’d bring him in, dust him off, and just bond a little bit inside the barn.

That’s when I noticed.

Everything was green.

We didn’t really have this in Texas.  First, in some parts of the state, nothing is ever green.  In others, everything is green, and it’s green all year round.

Here in New England, it’s different.  Summer is pretty green, then there are our legendary autumn colors.  And winter, with snow on everything, is gorgeous.  But New England has six seasons, not the usual four.  In addition to spring, summer, fall, and winter, we have Stick Season and Mud Season.  Stick Season happens after the last lovely orange leaf drifts from the trees, leaving…sticks.  Sticks everywhere.  You really don’t know how many sticks there are until you go through Stick Season.  It’s not in the least bit picturesque, and it goes on until it begins to snow.  Mud Season starts as soon as the snows begin to melt.  It’s…muddy. Very muddy.  Epic, sucking-the-shoes-right-off-your-feet muddy.  And it’s brown, the color of mud.  Brown brown brown brown brown.

Mud Season always seems to last forever.  The eye gets used to the brown and stops seeing things. You start to forget that the world has other colors in it, other than brown.  And it lasts right up until it’s gone.  I know that sounds goofy, but it’s how it happens.  One day everything is brown, brown, brown, brown, like it has been since the Dawn of Time.  The next day, the colors flood back into the world, just like when Dorothy’s house lands in Oz.  The colors don’t creep in.  They just…arrive, all at once.

Spring arrived on Friday, this year.  Suddenly, the ground was this brilliant emerald green.  Suddenly, scruffy thickets everywhere reveal that they are forsythias, by bursting out in brilliant yellow, like when the villain has his disguise torn off by Scooby Doo.  The sunny yellow bells of daffodils erupt everywhere, waving with the breeze.  And this all pretty much happened here yesterday.  It sure wasn’t like that on Thursday when I was out at the barn getting Huey reshod.

That’s when I developed my New, Improved Master Plan.

I was going to take Huey out, not to ride, but to eat grass.   It was perfect.  As we know, The Wonder Horse develops a laser-like focus when he believes there may be a treat around.  And for him, as much as he loves carrots and German Horse Muffins, everything absolutely pales in comparison to grass.  And he has given me to understand that there is no better grass than spring grass.  Those fine little tendrils of verdant herbage erupting from the recent mud flats.  Grass.

So I took him out on his lead, walked him ten feet away, and gave him the Sign:  Eat Now.  He was thrilled.  And, really, there’s nothing more relaxing than watching that laser-like focus directed at the ground, and listening to the tearing and chomping.  Twenty minutes of that undid two hours of yesterday.  I don’t need to take two aspirin and call in the morning, I just need to go out and meditate on Huey Eating Grass.

On the way back home, I noticed that the trees are seriously budding out.  In another week or so, this place is going to be a veritable fairyland of flowers.  Tulips.  Daffodils. Hyacinths.  And my favorite: tree flowers.  There’s a house down the street from me that isn’t anything special in itself, but has a pair of ancient and enormous flowering trees in the front.  A friend of mine told me once that she’d seriously considered buying that house, just for those trees.  I could believe it, too.  Those trees are exceptional, a vision worth writing home about.

It came home to me that it’s like this every year.  Every year, I completely forget about spring.  Every year, I am struck as for the first time by the sensational beauty of it all.  Every year, I am gifted with a bright shining exuberant spring, and every year, it comes as a total surprise.

Tulips

I Am Being The Wonder Horse!

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It has been being a very long time since I talked to you, and now you are thinking this is because nothing is going on and I am just still one bored horse.  But that is not true!  It has been being very exciting here!

Now, if you are listening to my rider you are thinking that I am a bossy horse and that it is not being easy for other horses to be getting along with me.  But that is not true.  It is only some horses, pesty horses or dummies, who are being horses that I cannot be getting along with.  There are other horses that are being just fine.  I cannot be going out with Elvis, because he is not a listening to me horse.  And I cannot be going out with Clay because he is a pest.  And then we are both fighting horses, which is fine with me because I like fighting, but it is not being fine with my rider or his rider, so that is not OK.  Also, he is a pest.

But, let me tell you this!  There are being lots of new horses out at this barn now!!! It is being SPRING!! And the grass is coming up and the little animals are coming out but there not any bugs to be bothering horses yet.  And lots and lots of new horses to meet and show who is the boss around here!! That boss is being me, Huey!

So this is being some days ago.  I am out in my paddock looking to see if maybe there is a little bit of grass, but there is not.  There is only mud.  But I like mud, so I am rolling around in it.  And in the paddock next to me, there is being a new horse.  That horse has been here for a little while, but not in the winter.  He has been here for the same time as the little red horse that looks like me, Huey.  And that horse is a grey horse.  We have not been having grey horses out at this barn.  Only red ones.  And dark brown ones, but mostly red ones.  But there is also a yellow horse, that is Lemon Drop, who is a very small horse.  But he is acting like a much bigger horse!!

There I was, playing with some mud and looking for grass, and that grey horse said Hey.

And I said Grey horse, are you talking to me?

And he said Yes.  You are looking like a Nice Horse.

So I said Yes.  I AM a Nice Horse.  And a Smart Horse and a Good Horse and a Handsome Horse.  That is because I am The Wonder Horse.

And he said You are The Wonder Horse?!?!  I did not know any Wonder Horse before!!

And I said Now you have met me.

Then we stood around for a while because it was warm.  He was there and I was here, but we were like horses in a herd standing around together.

Then that horse said I think we should be in the same paddock.

I said We cannot.  Laura put me here and you there.  That is a fence between us.  I know it does not look like much, but it is.

And that grey horse said You could come over here.  It is not a big fence.

But I said No, it is not.  But that fence will ZAP me if I touch it, and I do not like to get ZAPPED!!  I am not touching that fence.

And that other horse said OK. I see.

Then we stood around for a while more and there was the sun and the mud.  Then that grey horse said Can I come over?

But I said How are you going to come over?  There is a fence that will ZAP you.

And that horse said I do not care about getting ZAPPED.  I just want to come over there and be with you because we can make a herd together.

I thought about this and it was sounding like a good idea, because it is less boring to be in the paddock with another horse, as long as that horse is not Clay.  Nothing is ever boring with Clay.  But it is not fun either.

So I said Well, OK.  But you are not going to be eating my food, and you are not going to be pestering me.

And that horse said I am OK with that.

And then do you know what he did?

He scrunched himself down and he came under the fence.  It made a ZAP but he said he did not care.  And then he was there with me.  And we were horses together.  It was being a very good thing!! He was not being pesty.  I said I will bite you if you are a pest! And I made to show him I could bite his leg.  But he put his hoof up and said I do not want to kick you but if you bite me more I will.  I do not want to be fighting horses. Let’s just be standing around together horses.

So I said OK.  And we were.

My rider was gone for a very long time again.  She said it was something to do with tiles.  I do not understand what that is, or why she did not come to see me, but I was glad to see her anyway.  She got lost going to the paddock!! I saw her coming and I was going to say HI RIDER! but I had hay in my mouth, and then she looked at me and at the grey horse and then she looked at the small red horse in the other paddock and then she just stood there for a minute.  Then I ate the hay and said HI RIDER! and she said HUEY!! I was confused!!!!!  You are in there with another horse?!?!?

And I said Yes.  We are standing around together horses.

She made a circle with her lips.  And when she went to halter me, the other horse put his mouth near my butt and she said Horse! You better not start something there!!  But he said I am not starting anything.  I am just saying goodbye to Wonder Horse.  And I said We are not fighting horses.  It is OK.

And it was.

Then I got some brushing and that was good because I have itchy withers. And there were little riders out and Lemon Drop and Pepper were teaching them how to ride.  I am being very glad I am only having to teach one rider how to ride.  It is too confusing to teach many riders how to ride.  One is enough.

I thought we were going to ride, and my rider had the hat and there was my saddle, but when she went to clean my feet she made the noise like a wind in the tree.  She said Huey. Where is your shoe?

And I said What shoe?

She said The shoe that is not on your foot?

I said I don’t know.

She said Why did you take it off again?

But I did not take it off again.  It fell off.  A horse cannot be worrying about shoes that fall off.  Then she put away the hat and the saddle.  I said I thought we were going to ride? But she said we could not ride if I did not have my shoe.

That is too bad.  I wanted to ride. But then she said we would be going for a walk instead and there might be grass.

Well.  Grass.  It has been being a very long time since I have been seeing GRASS.  I am knowing that hay is really grass, but it is dry and crunch, not soft and sweet like real grass is.  And I am definitely an eating grass horse even though I am not getting to do that very often because people are being worried that I am not stopping before I get sick.

Then we walked out to the road, right next to the ring.  And I was being a Good Horse and not trying to run over my rider.  It is always hard to do that because that place is narrow, and it makes me feel squeezed and when a horse feels squeezed it wants to go forward fast!  But my rider is not liking it when I do that, and so I was trying very hard not to do that thing.

Then do you know what happened?

A HUGE RACKET broke out right behind me, and there were a whole herd of horses that were running right behind us!!!!  I jumped and got ready to run.  But my rider shook her head and made my halter move around and said CLAY!!!!! And then she made a Bad Word.

That is when I realized it was not a whole herd of horses running behind us, it was only Clay, and he was jumping and racing around in his paddock.  Do you know why he was doing this?

He was doing this to scare me and get me in trouble.  That is because he is a pest.  But when my rider yelled his name I knew what was up.  He was not fooling me for very long!!!  And I put my feet on the ground and I said Yeah Clay.  But I did not make a Bad Word because I am not that kind of horse.

Then my rider gave my neck a big scratch and said Huey, you are such a Smart and Good Horse not to get scared by Clay and trample me.

And I said I know.  Can I have some grass please?

And she said Yes.  Then I got to eat real grass.  There was not much of it at all, but it was very good.  I had to stop before I wanted to, but then I got my jacked on and I did some stretches and got Horse Muffins, and then I got to go back and show off my Horse Muffins to the grey horse.  He said they looked very nice but he did not try to take them.  That is because he is a Good Horse too.  Not a pest.

Now I am a waiting for the farrier horse.  I hope he puts my shoe back on soon, because it is time to ride! I will be showing that grey horse what Wonder Horses do in the ring!!!

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Dude! Where’s My Boots?

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Tomorrow, Sunday, is the last day of my Ski Year.  This is a tragedy.  Like death, the end of the ski season is inevitable.  Also like death, it is a misery when it arrives.

One thing that makes my misery less is the presence of my buddy.  From this time forward, he will be referred to as “Russell”.  This is because, today, he reminds me of nothing more than Russell Brand from “Get Him To The Greek.”

When the world slips you a Jeffrey, stroke the furry wall.

Yep.  That’s what life with Russell looks like today.

Russell, a native Texan, has had little or no opportunity to ski.  He does, however, have an opportunity to drink beer, good beer, and in copious quantities.  Which makes him perfect company for my annual Ski Season Wake, which in turn coincides with the Winter Beer Fest at my ski hill.  It’s not really called the “Winter Beer Fest”.  It has a more glamorous name, but everyone calls it the “Winter Beer Fest”.  And it comes off on approximately the last weekend of the ski season, which means you have hundreds, if not thousands, of depressed skiers pouring in off the ski hill and Encountering Local Agriculture in the form of large numbers of breweries pouring exotic brews out of taps, and all there on the snow from the ski hill and under the spring sun.

If it didn’t mark the death of the ski season it would be awesome.

As it is, it’s an awesome bonding experience.

This year, it was enhanced by the presence of Russell, who came up for the Beer Fest and said, as long as he was here, that maybe he should learn to ski.

Hell Yeah, I said.  I was all over that.  I set him up with a learn-to-ski lesson yesterday morning in the slush that accumulates when a ski hill gets 14 hours of bright sun and 50-degree temps.  There were, of course, many who said “What idiot learns to ski on the last day of the season” but we just pointed out, better late than never.  This made sense to everyone, and off he went.  Did very well, too.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your perspective with respect to Learning Experiences, the entire hill melted yesterday afternoon…and then got socked with a deep freeze last night.  Which meant that yesterday was Spring Skiing – soft and mushy – whereas today was more like January 6 instead of April 6.  Hill was as hard as a blasted rock, with a fine layer of pulverized ice on top.  A particular variant of “frozen granular”, the primary term New England skiers have for ice.  As we scraped onto the bunny hill lift, I looked at Russell and said “Welcome to Vermont”.

After a few hours of doing drills on the bunny hill, I decided that Russell was OK to go to the top. With an escort, of course.  It was a…hairy… experience.  Took me right back to my early ski days, when I went down that run for the first time, terrified because it was steep and narrow.  Hah, I say.  That’s before I understood the meaning of the words “steep” or “narrow”.  But I do remember how it felt.  And Russell was having a similar experience, I could see.  We’ll just say that he made it down in one piece, with no more injury than a bruised butt, and was an extremely good sport about getting up after the 4,555.000 spills he took along the way.  Hey, I said, falling is part of skiing.  Means you’re pushing your boundaries.

We did get to the end and Russell said Hey, I want to do that again.  No, I said.  It’s time for beer.  The Beer Fest has already started.  Time for you to learn about the other vitally important part of skiing.  Apres ski.  And so we went.  Stood about in 37 degrees swilling microbrews and shooting the breeze with other skiers and riders about, well, skiing and riding.  Because what else is more interesting to talk about, when you’ve been skiing or riding all morning?

Russell was a little shy at first, but I made sure everyone we talked to knew that he had just learned to ski yesterday and was already going to the summit.  And, because, there is nothing a ski junkie likes more than a new ski junkie, everyone loved him.

Unfortunately, like his namesake, Russell got complete potted at apres ski.  I’ve been hanging about with Russell for 20 years, and seen him pack away his share of beer, but there was something about swilling beer on the ski hill.  Next thing I knew he was absolutely in the tank.  I mean, knee-walking drunk.  Awesomely drunk.  Inspiringly drunk.  Magnificently intoxicated. Plastered.  Blasted.  This was a once-in-twenty-years bender I’m talking about, the likes of which I have never seen in this company.

Roy showed up somewhere along the way and I bailed out to go hang with him.  Thirty minutes later, Russell shows up at the hotel room we’re all sharing.  Unfortunately, he does not have his boot bag with him.  Which means he doesn’t have his ski pants, Roy’s helmet, Roy’s balaclava (all on loan) or, more catastrophically, his rental ski boots.  We know where the skis and poles are, but they’re not a heck of a lot of use with out the boot.  Furthermore, he doesn’t even realize that he’s missing the boot bag.  And there begins a 45 minute long saga involving a dinner reservation at a four-star restaurant, a comedy of errors, additionally missing shoes, and – in general – a scene that wouldn’t have been in the least bit out of line with Get Him To The Greek.  Roy, bless his heart, is taking Jonah Hill’s role in all this.  Unfortunately, we emerged from the surreal comedic episode still without the boot bag.

One hopes that it will turn up tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, Roy persuaded us that we needed to go for a walk on one of the freshly groomed runs.  I took a perverse pleasure in trampling the fresh cord some other skier would enjoy, but which I could not because I’m going to be helping Russell attempt to locate his ski boots.  And helmet, and ski pants, and goggles, and and and.

I will say this, the stars were magnificent. Roy was quite right to encourage us all out there.

He was also quite right to encourage Russell to take a dip in the resort’s hot tub and heated pool, which – in the finest tradition of ski lodges everywhere – is open to the chilly night air and lets you see both the stars and the ski runs from the water.

As soon as we walked through the doors opening into the spa area, we saw that there were perhaps a dozen people already in the pool and hot tub.

And, in the finest tradition of Russell Brand and Get Him To The Greek, as soon as we did walk through the doors, all one dozen denizens of the pool erupted in exactly the same cry:

Hey!  It’s the guy from the Beer Fest!!!

Yes.  Every single one of them immediately recognized Russell even without his ski gear, even in the dark.  Instant Celebrity.

I would have said, if asked, that I had spent the majority of our time at the Beer Fest with Russell.  Yet, I don’t remember anything happening that would cause a round dozen individuals to erupt with cries of “Hey! It’s that guy from the Beer Fest!” later and in the dark.

All I can say about that is that it must have happened when I went off for a bathroom break.

I asked him, Dude, what were you doing?

But he has no recollection…no more of that, than what happened to his boot bag.

I’ll say this, it’s certainly the most interesting period I’ve ever put to a ski season.

I Am One Surprised Horse!!!!!

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Today it is being very nice.  First, it is warm and there is very good mud to squish around with my hoofs in the paddock.  And I was able to get a bunch of that nice squishy mud on my face!! It is not being easy to get mud on your face when you are a horse, but I am being a very smart horse and I am doing that thing!!  Next, there are a bunch of new horses here.  That little mare that bosses all the other horses around and teaches the little kids to ride is here.  She has been being somewhere else all winter.  And there are a bunch of horses that I have never seen before.  Everyone says that one of them looks just like me!!  I am saying No he does not, because I am being a bigger horse.  And I am more handsome too.  But he is having a big white stripe on his face like me, and he is being red too.  But he is not big and red.  He is only red.

Then, my rider came.  She is coming more now that it is being warmer.  She walked over to my paddock and picked up my halter, so I knew what was happening. It was a going to the barn and standing around day.  I was right.  We went to the barn.  I said Goodbye, small red horse!  Stay out of my paddock!  But he is not a bold horse so he did not say anything at all.  He did not go in my paddock either, and that was good because I was leaving some hay on the ground there for later.

We got into the barn and I was right.  My rider was showing me a new curry comb that she said was being very good for my hairs.  I was knowing something then.  I was knowing that she was going to start talking about dirt again, and saying things like Huey you are such a dirty horse.  I was right then too.  She put that curry comb on me and said Huey you are such a dirty horse.  And then I knew it was going to be a bunch of talk talk talk talk about dirt and hair, so I am falling asleep because that new curry comb was feeling  very nice.

I am thinking that my rider must really be loving dirt.  That is all she talks about.  Dirty horses.  Dirty hair.  Dirty hoofs.  Dirty tail.  Dirty mane.  It is the most boring thing because what is there to say?  It is dirt.  I am a dirty horse, and I am liking to be a dirty horse.  I am knowing she will be taking all that mud off my face, but then she will be going away again and I will be putting that mud right back on.  So she is talking and talking and I am not listening at all except to the noise of her voice and I am getting a bunch of nice scratchy brushing and it is being nice and warm with no cold wind and no zaps, and I am one horse who is going to fall right asleep in those cross-ties.  Even Clay was falling asleep in the stall and not being a pest like always.

Then the brushing was over and my rider was not talking anymore, but she was going away.  I thought she was going to get my blanket, and I was thinking it was time for doing Treat Stretches.  But then there was a lot of noise, and when my rider came back she was carrying something, but it was not my blanket!  Guess what it was?!?!?

You will never guess, so I will tell you.

She was carrying my saddle.  And wearing that hat.

I said Rider! You are carrying my saddle!  Why?

She made that noise like the wind in the leaves and said Huey. I have been telling you about this for the last ten minutes.

And I said What have you been telling me?  I was not being a listening to words horse, I was being a falling asleep horse because I thought you were being a talking about dirt again person.

She laughed and said Huey.  I have been telling you that we are going riding today.

Well.  Riding?  We are going riding today?  It has been a very long time since we have been going riding!!!!  And now, I am being a surprised horse because I am not expecting to be going riding!!!!  But there it is, my saddle and the bridle and the special hat and everything!  But I said You are not wearing the right clothes.  And she said That is because I did not know we were going to be riding today either.  So these are just my standing around brushing horses clothes.  It is OK because we are not going to be riding for very long at all.

And we were not.  I got all dressed up, but my rider did not take me into the ring!  There was still being some snow on that ring, and she said We cannot go ride there yet.  And then we went into the little round ring.  I said This is not a riding ring!!!  It is a running around being a wild horse ring, and sometimes it is a waiting for the farrier ring, and it was a being a listening horse ring a few days ago.  But I have not ever been a riding horse here!

So my rider said I know.  It is a very small ring.  But we cannot go in the big one, and we are only going to be walking and not very long at that too.  But I said I can be a trotting horse! I do not have to just be a walking horse!!  And she said I know, and you are a very good trotting horse!  But it is being a very very long time since you are being a riding horse and I do not want to make your back and legs sore, so for right now, you are being a walking for only a little time horse.  But we are still riding!!

She was right.  I am happy to wear that saddle, because it is handsome and fits me very good, but also because it means I am being a horse with a JOB.  And that is being a very important thing, having a job!  So I had to go on the lunge line a little because my rider is saying there might be bugs in my brain that have to come out without a rider on.  But there were not.  So she said It is time to ride.  And then she wanted me to go next to a VERY SCARY THING!!!  It was BLUE!!!  And I dug my hoofs in the mud and said NO.  I did not want to go next to the Scary Thing!!

The rider made that wind noise again and said Huey. What are you doing.

I said I am afraid of that thing!!!  It is SCARY!!!!!!

She looked at the Scary Thing and said Huey. You are being silly.  Move up.

But I said I cannot! I am too scared!!  I do not know what that thing is!!!

Then the rider made a loud laugh.  She said Huey. You do too know what that thing is, and it is NOT a Scary Thing.  It is just the mounting block.

Well.  I looked at it some more, and then I was feeling like the very silly horse because it was the mounting block, and the mounting block is not a Scary Thing.  It is the thing that makes the rider big enough to get on.  We do not ever go riding without using the mounting block.  I guess there were being bugs in my brain after all!

I went next to the mounting block and my rider got on and I said OK! Let’s go! But she said No.  We can only walk.  So I said OK.  It will be being a very good walk!

And it was.  But just as I was getting nice and loose and thinking about making a trot, my rider said to stop with her seat.  I am being a very smart and paying attention horse so I stopped.  And then do you know what?

She got off.  That is right.  We walked for a little bit of time in the little ring and then she got down.  I was very surprised!!! And she said We are done for today Huey!  But I said What?  We just got started! How are we being done?!?!  But she said We are having to go for not very long, Huey.  We will be going for longer later.  And if you are being good and not hurting yourself and I am not hurting you, we are going to a show later.

Well.  A show.  I can do some poky walks if it means going to a show.  How I am going to be jumping in a show when I never get to jump at the barn I do not know.  Maybe we can do some jumping when we go for more poky walks.  I will see.

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This is me and my rider and the little wild horse ring. The Scary Blue Mounting Block is not in this picture though.