Talk To Me

My essay “Talking with Animals” appears in Horse Illustrated, August 2012. The non-compete contract says I have to wait 6 months to post. Go buy a copy. Bump up those circulation numbers. My issues will be so in demand that editors will clamor for my copy & I’ll get so popular that folks buy the magazine just to read what I have to say. Sorry, channeling my inner Wofford there for a minute.

To avoid narrative confusion, the speakers in the essay appear unattributed. The cat was Mew, my Siamese. He started with a classier name but it devolved over time. The horses are Caesar [Previous Horse] with Mathilda in a supporting role and the jumper mare pictured in the Yin & Yang post.

In return for such shameless self-promotion, I offer an online bonus of two that didn’t make the final cut. The first, with Rodney & Mathilda, was deemed too snarky. The second was insufficiently equine.

Animals place blame. Our two current horses eat al fresco. Since the Thoroughbred gelding gets less and eats faster than our retired mare, one of us stays in the field to keep them separated until she finishes. The Thoroughbred is largely resigned to this but occasionally slips past. If he gets too close, she looks up, not at the other horse but at us. Her look says, ‘You brought him on the property. He’s your problem’.

Animals convey judgment, even the non-domesticated ones. One day, while I was a part-time zookeeper in a bird department, I had the opportunity to feed a sea lion. The lady in question was old and sedate. All I had to do was hold the fish over her open mouth and drop it in. Over the years, many zookeepers had come through her life. When she saw me come out onto the pool deck, I received a mental eye-roll accompanied by, ‘Oh no, not another one to train’. She sat in front of me as quietly as several hundred pounds of marine mammal can sit. I held up the first fish. She opened her mouth. I tried to hold the fish steady. Sea lions possess a startlingly large number of teeth. The fish landed slightly askew. I heard a heavy mental sigh and the resigned tones of, ‘Really, how hard is it to hold a fish?’

Anyone who says animals can’t talk just isn’t listening.

Horse Hunt Progress Report #2

Remessaged the two individuals with horses for sale [HHPR#1]. Whatever made me think they would get back to me with more details &/or videos? Just because I might want to shovel wheelbarrow loads of money at them? It’s not unique to horse shopping. When we were farm hunting, Realtors found us boring. This was at the height of the housing market. They could live the good life by selling cookiecutter units in developments. Why mess with one-off properties that required actual work, with no easy comparables, and a land/house imbalance that did no appeal to mortgage resellers… But I digress. When we fenced the field, one company showed up but never bothered to send an estimate. I figure they took one look around & couldn’t believe we would build a fence that outclassed our house. (We did.) Another company didn’t even express interest in showing up. Dunno what his excuse was. Recently, an HVAC repair company came out, pronounced our AC throughly dead, gave us an estimate – we are talking horse-purchase amounts of money – but never got back to us with the modest amount of information we requested, or followed up in any way. Is it me? Is it the South? Perhaps the economy has improved and they have all the money they need. Grumble, grumble. We will now attempt to return to our regularly scheduled, sunny-tempered broadcast.

How do you reboot from a bad mood?

Later: In talking with Fairy Godmother [HHPR#1] about a horse, I reformulated [Truck Shopping] my mission statement. I have the tortured hero. I’m looking for the comedic sidekick. List of Horse Shopping Posts
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Helping with the dishes

Grass Buffet

When I graze Mathilda, my wants are simple. Is she about to roll? Am I downhill from her in the event of catastrophic system failure? If the answer is no to both, I go back to my book and let her get on with it. Hubby pays more attention [Grazing]. The most recent time out he noticed that there were certain grasses she preferred. So, he began to look for patches of those. When he tried to show her what he had found, the exchange went like this:
Hubby tugs on leadrope.
Mare resists.
Hubby drags her head out of the grass and over to new place.
Mare: What? Leave me alone.
Hubby: Here. Look at what I found.
Mare: Go away. What could you possibly know about grazing? Oh look, the good stuff.
Repeat.
Mare: Why are you hassling me? Oh look, the good stuff.
She never did admit that he was of any assistance.

Horse Hunt Progress Report #1

I have contact two individuals and one trainer for more details & videos. Not holding out huge hopes for the individual horses. One has a Cadillac description and a junk-yard price. Either the horse’s attributes are generously interpreted or it’s the steal of the century. The other sounds nice enough but is a breed I’m not crazy about. Okay, I’ll say it. I just don’t see the attraction of European Warmbloods. Anglo-App, Anglo-Arab, Appendix QH, sure. While I have nothing against European horses in theory, I’ve never sat on one that I felt was worth the hype. Could be I’ve never met the right Warmblood. Neither ad gives the horse’s age.

I have high hopes for a response from the trainer. She found a lovely horse for a friend (i.e. a Find-me-one-of-those kinda horse) and her ad actually describes the horses as individuals. Some are for riders headed to the upper levels, some are not. Some need a supportive ride, some are still green in dressage. What a relief. It is beyond useless when a barn web site describes every horse as elastic, athletic, with lovely gaits. What are they, robo-horses?

My brilliant maneuver, I hope, is that I have hired a Fairy Godmother*. No one in my area wants to take on the project, so I’ve found someone I trust to help me sort through the online ads & videos. And whack me over the head with her magic wand should I become overly whiny and obstreperous. It’s nothing a friend wouldn’t offer to do, but you can impose on friends only so many times. When looking for Rodney, I asked for opinions on 2 or 3 candidates. (Tellingly, none of them were Rodney. I was buying him & didn’t want to hear opinions to the contrary).

I foresee needing more help than friendship alone would bear. It took me a year to find Rodney and I knew what I was looking for. This time, I don’t have a clue. How can I explain that to a seller over the phone? In the interest of both crowdsourcing and generating content, I’ll ask you the same question I asked FG. Should I check out a local horse if I am unlikely to buy?

Con
Waste of my time.
Waste of the owner’s time.
Putzing about will only aggravate this mysterious local perception that I am not serious about finding a horse.

Pro
I could be wrong. The horse could be perfect.
The perfect horse could be one stall over.
It’s good practice. I learn something with ever visit, even if it is only, ‘Oh, please no’.
It will get the word out.
What else I got to do with my time?

Sounds as if I should. Sigh. What think you, go/no go?
List of Horse Hunting posts.

*In Cinder-blogging-ella I agreed that the Fairy Godmother myth was falsely enabling. So, the proper term here would be advisory committee, or mentor, or rabbi. Fairy Godmother has a better ring. Plus, the dress is so much sparklier.
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Kitten report.
They have been cleared for the run of the house at night. Twice now, Lady (80-lb German Shepherd) has been chased off her dog mattress unto our bed by their 4 am frolics.

Crush! Kill! Destroy!

I am a peaceful soul. I usher wasps back outside. I let spiders and snakes live. When we first moved onto this property, I went to check the barn. A slight motion out of the corner of one eye resolved into a humongous rat on a rafter above the aisle. Panning back revealed an equally impressive snake looped back & forth over the other end of the rafter. I shut off the light, backed out of the barn, & left them to resolve their differences. Never saw either one of them again.

The exceptions to this detente are all bug-related, particularly horse flies, deer flies, enormous armored black bugs, and their ilk. Threaten to bite one of my horses? Strike fast, strike hard, and finish by stomping the carcass into the ground in case it was only stunned. Sanctity of life? Hah! Eat boot, and die!

What is your Live and Let Live limit?
Rodney’s Alphabet
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For the Gentle Reader who asked after LEGO kittens yesterday.

Patient Management Update

Mathilda had a slight relapse on Thursday. Hubby was doing evening chores. She was fine – or at least status quo. He came down to the house. Five minutes later, he was back at the barn and she was unwilling to put weight on her bad leg. No idea what happened. We agree she took a funny step. He thinks she was fussing due to the storm. I chose to look at it as a good sign. When I’m really sick, I’m easy to deal with. Just put me to bed or shoot me. I don’t care which. When I start to recover, I get cranky & restless. I think she’s getting tired of standing in her gilded cage.

Doubled her dosage last night & she is much better. Today (Friday) I’ve been taking her out on several short grazes in place of two long ones and two quick carrot checks. Same number of trips to the barn, just reallocating the time. So, no substantive change in activity. The psychic toll, however, we do not need.

And now for something completely different. At our house, we spend July celebrating athleticism by sitting on our butts watching the Tour de France bike race. The intermediate sprints are marked with a green banner bearing the PMU logo and a horse head, video. It stands for Pari Mutuel Urbain, a French betting concern. A recent PMU entry into the insanity that is the publicity caravan.

All I can think of is
PREgnant MAre urINne

Do you Tour?