On midnight Christmas Eve, animals talk. This year, Mathilda gave us an earful:
“Nobody ever asks the other horses. You are at the barn, what two, three, hours tops? We are the ones who have to live with your choice 24/7. Okay, I admit, he’s cute in his way. However, 19 years of an arranged marriage to one Thoroughbred was enough. Now I gotta train another one?!
“It started well enough. The first pasture had lots of space, lots of grass, lots of horses. Once I convinced the residents that I had hooves and wasn’t afraid to use them, I made a some friends. Life was good. One of the horses living in that field, a skinny Thoroughbred, thought he was all that. He screamed like a stallion, even though we could all see he wasn’t. He was a pig about getting to eat first and had to be the one standing closest to the fan. He didn’t bother me much. I wasn’t his type. He always had some silly filly who didn’t know any better off in a corner.
“Of course you know what happened. We moved. You brought him. Of all the horses you could have chosen, you picked him. HIM! Have you no sense? Didn’t you see me trotting back and forth along the fence line begging you to bring another horse, any other horse?
“I guess over the years we worked out a sustainable living arrangement. As long as I let him eat first, he thought he ran the field. I can’t say we ever got to be buddies. Oh sure, there was the occasional clandestine nuzzle. And yes, I threw a fit when you took him down the driveway, but that was self-defense. I was afraid of being alone.
“Silly me. Alone wasn’t so bad. I got to eat any patch of grass that caught my fancy. I could nap in the barn whenever I wanted. I left part of my breakfast for elevenses.
“After a year of my getting used to being single, you bring in another bay Thoroughbred. Okay, this one is nicer, but there are rabid skunks nicer than that other horse. And, yes, I made a bit of a fool of myself over him at first but I’ve calmed down. I mean, he’s less than half my age. I’m exhausted. It’s nice having a boy toy, but all the time? Perhaps some sort of visiting hours?
“Plus, this one has issues. He thinks of the entire run-in shed as his own private stall. Seniority clearly means nothing to him. What his kicks lack in snake-like speed they make up for it in reach. I’ve learned to just walk away. There is no reasoning with a Thoroughbred.
“Also, more carrots.”