I’m getting quite a few questions about Clay’s “fake carrot” and want to take a moment here to explain. Yes. My day started by rolling out of bed on the Late side, hustling into my riding gear (more on that below), sloping off to the stables, finding that Earth Moving Equipment had occupied the premises (and being incidentally totally delighted that the driveway had been graded, as the recent storms had made it increasingly difficult to steer the car around the potholes), and that consequently all the horses were still in their stalls.
I scored a new rope halter (see below, under “Woot, Last Night”) for Huey and was sufficiently occupied with getting his Brand Spankin’ New Rope Halter on him and escorting him out to the cross-ties for some High Quality Grooming (followed by Low Quality Riding) that I didn’t notice his right side. You tack horses up from the left side. This, by the way, happens because you wear your sword on the left, and don’t want to get it tangled up with your legs and stuff as you vault into the saddle from the ground. No, I’m not kidding. Look it up.
So I’ve haltered Huey up on the left, and I guide him out to the cross-ties – and it seems like he remembers his last lesson in Respecting My Space While Going In And Out Of The Stall (see “I Am A Horrible Horse” for more details) because he does not charge through, over, or above me. And I get him all set up in his cross-ties, and I’m grooming his neck and moving back, and then the barn owner steps out of a stall that she’s cleaning and says “Did you see the cut on his face?”
It’s good that she clarified with the “on his face” bit, because I’ve been treating a cut on his right-rear hock, and low on his right neck, and I noticed on Thursday that he had more boo-boos on his left check and over his right eye.
I have to say, at this point, that Huey is not particularly “accident prone” – for a horse. I haven’t, yet, had to call the vet out to patch anything up. Knock on wood.
So I said “On his eye? Or the one on his cheek?”
And she said “Oh, no. The one on his lip.”
I regarded his mouth – still on the left side – and said “He has a cut on his lip?”
She said “Over here, on the right.”
I came around, and he had a wound the size of a nickel, right there above his lip on the right side.
“Oh.” I said.
That’s when she said, and this is a direct quote, “Clay hit him in the face with a traffic cone on Thursday.”
“Oh?” I said.
And she explained that Clay had picked up the traffic cone from the pasture (she puts the cones in places to discourage the horses from frequenting them, although I must say that evidence available does not support the proposition of a significant Deterrent Value of the cones) and tried, repeatedly, to get Huey to “take it from him”. This was, truly, a fairly short time after Huey got a carrot from me, and Clay tried to approach me, and was forcibly driven off by Huey. It’s all true. I don’t know for certain that Clay tried to pass the traffic cone off as a carrot, but given the earlier Carrot Controversy and the fact that both carrots and traffic cones are pointy and orange, I see no reason to believe that it was not being passed off as an ersatz carrot.
So. It’s true. Clay hit Huey in the face with a traffic cone and made a big cut.
Now, I have to say that any day that starts off with the news that another horse hit my horse in the face with a traffic cone is one that is likely only to get weirder. Thank heavens I have experience with lots of wack shit from my youngest brother, who was once evicted from an Xmas pageant for hitting himself rhythmically on the head in time to Jingle Bells…and then decided to expand the experience to hitting the kid in front of him in the head in time to Jingle Bells. I love kids with ADHD. You just never know what they’re going to do. And I’ve been Emergency Backup Mom to any number of other kids with ADHD, each of which has come out of the corner fighting, with some curve ball just as nutty as another horse assaulting mine with a traffic cone.
Or, as a friend of mine observed, “I had no idea that horses are this much like children.” Granted, this is the mom of one of my Emergency Backup Kids who, at the age of 5, was attending his mom’s wedding (to 2nd husband) and burst into loud weeping mid-ceremony, and when the ceremony was halted promptly so that his mom could find out what was going on, the kid responded “I always cry at weddings.” So having her observe that having Huey is pretty similar to having kids was a truly sobering thought. Or as sobering as I could have, given that the image I can’t get off the front of my mind is one of Clay racing around with a traffic cone in his mouth and accidentally walloping Huey in the face with it.
Woot, Last Night
We’re in the happy position of having a major equine exposition going on virtually in the backyard. Down in Springfield, at the Big E (home of the butter sculpture, see earlier post) is a massive quantity of Horse People. According to the expo’s website, 79% of the attendees are female. What I can’t tell is whether this figure includes the Horse Husbands. Like my spouse.
My trainer and barn owner is the person who turned me on to this thing. She warned me to steer clear of the exhibit floor. With good reason. Let me just say that for the individual that is a Shopaholic (I am) and a Horse Person (I am) there is nothing that is closer to a Religious Experience than Shopping For The Horse. It’s like My Little Pony taken to the nth degree.
It’s a 4 day expo, and we showed up for Day 2. Actually, I’d scored tickets to a magnificent horse performance event that is held all four nights of the expo, sponsored by Pfizer (and say what you like about Big Pharma, Pfizer are the closest thing we have there to the Guys in White Hats. They also developed a daily dewormer, so that Huey just gets a handful of pellets in his grain, which he hoovers right on up every single day, which means that I only have to squirt deworming paste into his mouth two times per year instead of every six weeks. And if you’ve ever tried to Pill A Cat, you will have some frame of reference – albeit an inadequate one – for what is involved in Deworming A Horse). Anyway, I had scored tickets for this event last night.
I’m going to cut in here and say what I have to say about the Pfizer show: I have conceived a new Heart’s Desire. I want my own private herd of white Arabian horses, all of whom can read my mind, and who do tricks. I also want to dance with Huey to music in a spotlight while we are both wearing glitter. But mostly I want my own herd of Arabians that can read my mind. The show, in short, was awesome.
But, before that happened. I had to be in Springfield for a job interview (interviewing someone else, not interviewing for a new job) and didn’t get to leave that until 2:30. It’s 40 minutes home, another 15 for my spouse to dick around, and another 35 back down to a different part of Springfield for the expo. The Parking Fairy gave me an excellent spot right by the front gates, and things were going very smoothly until we discovered that the gate fee – separate from the tickets for the Pfizer thing – had to be paid in cash. Of which I had bloody little. And spouse had less.
“Is there an ATM?” I asked.
“It’s inside.” was the answer.
There followed a complicated, nay, Byzantine, series of interactions that ultimately involved me entering the expo on Trust, searching for a working ATM, extracting cash, hustling back to the gate, paying the fee, retrieving the spouse, and entering legitimately. Which ate another 20 minutes.
By that time, I’d missed the clinics I wanted to go to (watch other people learn to ride, which as a Horse Person and Educator is unusually fascinating) so we dropped in on a seminar on caring for the Senior Horse. I was heartened to find that that their definition of “Senior” was anywhere from 25 to 37. Huey is 17. The thought that I could be dealing with Huey’s wack shit for another 20 years is…inspiring. Knock On Wood.
After that, Jeff decided to stay in the darkened seminar stage room for the next lecture (and nap) while I…shopped. Oh holy cow. I got a great discount on a new rope halter. Huey didn’t precisely need a new rope halter, as the one I inherited from his previous owner was still in pretty good condition…but the new one is green. And it has a big fat, longer, green lead rope. You red-heads will know: there is no color that is better for a red-head than green. And Huey, like Clifford, is a Big Red Horse. Green is his color. And I got a Deal on it.
I also got a Deal on the riding boot cell phone holder. Go ahead, laugh. But the thing is, my barn owner doesn’t want people riding alone – if there’s no one roaming around the barn or property, she doesn’t want us riding unless we’ve got the cell phone on us. Because, as I know all too well, shit happens, you fall off, and maybe someone needs to call 911. My breeches have one pocket, and it’s the size of the 5th pocket on a pair of 5 pocket jeans. Big enough to stick a finger in, but not nearly big enough for a smartphone. So when I came round the corner and saw a display of cell phone holders that are meant to strap around your calf I was thrilled. Talk about your Niche Product, there. This one has an artistic rendering of a horse-head on it.
Then there were the polar fleece vests. I’ve never considered myself a Vest Person. I’m more of a Sweater Person, a Jacket Person, and on occasion, a Gigantic Fake Fur Coat Person. However, now that I consider the need to have my arms freely moving while my core is kept warm, say, while I’m on the back of, say, my horse, I have really come around to the whole Vest Notion. And these vests were embroidered with…horses!! And not only that, but some of them were embroidered with hunting horses, and some with jumping horses, and some with barrel racing horses, and – yay – some with dressage horses. Like Huey’s gonna be, once I learn to teach him how to do it. And they fit me perfectly – a truly rare occurrence. I got a good deal on those, too.
Some of the stuff I did not buy:
Because, even though I did not notice this when I was in Ireland, Irish people have tiny calves. So none of them fit. This was, mercifully, also true for every other totally amazing boot at the show.
I also did not buy the Western saddle that was encrusted with rhinestones and silver conchos. When I saw it, the only thing I said to Jeff was that this saddle would really do a Dallas Rodeo Queen proud. Now, some of you will understand this instantly, and derive a picture of appropriate degree of ostentatious over-the-top splendour. But if you don’t grasp it instantly, nothing else I could say would cause you to understand. You either get Dallas Rodeo Queens or you don’t.
This would have been a Shopping Orgy under any circumstances, but as it was…well…you just have to mentally combine Filene’s Basement, or DSW, with My Little Pony and Black Beauty…to really understand the Extravaganza.
Now, if Huey would only relax his whole-hearted dedication to acquiring filth and fighting with the other horses…although, to be fair, the Traffic Cone Incident was not his fault.