If you’re not chuckling about dumb things you’ve done with horses or humorous equine behavior, you’re taking life too seriously. The cast of characters at Halcyon Acres is good for laughs every day. Fortunately, some of the ugly mistakes we make in learning turn to humorous memories over time too.
Horse herd antics will have you shaking your head
There’s always something going on at the farm that serves to straighten out my wrong thinking when it comes to horse sense.
Leah the ice queen
There’s a yearling Irish Draught Sport Horse at Halcyon Acres that I noticed is the main event at the water trough. In the early mornings on particularly cold nights, the herd gathers waiting for her before I appear. Upon her arrival, the gang parts for her to approach the 100-gallon tub. She’ll lift a front leg over the edge and send it crashing down onto the frozen top layer of water, making easy access for everyone else to quench their thirst. It’s funny how all the older horses wait for this clever young filly to fix their dilemma.
Shelter from onlookers
Recently, we added a number of run-in sheds to the pastures at Halcyon Acres. With a quick and brutal onset to winter and ten of the farm horses relegated to outdoor living, we were feeling guilty about some of the herd being denied access by a couple of bossy mares. Of course, a week after we pulled out the credit card for the building order, the herd decided it was too cold to put up with the posturing and kicked the aggressors out of the gang (and the provided shelter). It seemed the majority, too, felt the harshness of winter and decided to do something smart about it.
Between the time the sheds were ordered and the buildings arrived, the herd found a spot in the pasture that provided great shelter from the wind and decent protection from driving rain and snow. That’s where they tend to hang when they’re not devouring massive amounts of hay. There have been a couple of mornings when the wind is fierce and the temperatures low that all horses are enjoying the comfort inside the run-ins. Most days, though, a number of herd members have decided these new additions to their living quarters are an ideal lavatory. I’m getting ready to hang signs to re-label all the run-ins ‘outhouses.’
Horses and kids can be a scary combination
A few weeks after I started in a lesson program (I was five), the instructor decided I no longer needed the security and safety of Sam, their former circus performer. Sam was a gem. He focused entirely on the instructor, knew voice commands and was as kind as they come. Pure white and talented, this critter could carry the most ill-equipped rider (in fact, I lost him as my promised first show mount to a handicapped child who won the class) and make it look like they were calling the shots. I placed second on Popsey that day, but hated her from the start. Soon after she replaced Sam as my lesson mount, she unloaded me (I don’t recall how, but it probably didn’t take much). I was hopping mad about my first dump and went running after her to catch her and remount. That day I learned that horses kick. For weeks, I had a hoof imprint on my cheek, shoe nails discernable. At the time, I wasn’t very happy about the experience, but laugh now and feel gratified for learning a hard lesson so early, relatively unscathed, that I will never forget. Somehow, I imagine the instructor was probably shouting to discourage me from my actions, but imagine I was too hot to hear him.
The things we kids did with our ponies could comprise a book of potential disaster stories and make the Thelwell scenarios seem tame (remember these? http://www.google.com/images?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=s&hl=en&q=thelwell&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=3V0wTcmsPMnZgQfDmrjCCw&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CCYQsAQwAA&biw=1600&bih=707). Fortunately, we all survived. Often, I’m saddened that kids are so sheltered and protected today that they can’t learn from bonding with their horse unfettered. Frankly, it’s amazing we didn’t spend months in the hospital (or jailed), but the dumb things we did taught us valuable life lessons and created a sacred trust with our mounts that can’t be fully understood through words. When there’s no fear, there’s lesser risk. It’s amazing how horses do so much to protect those who don’t take care of themselves. Do you have stories to share of how your horse took care of you? Please do in the comments below.
Adults should know better
I follow a number of horse related Google alerts, and rarely do much more than scan. But Ben Muessig caught my eye with his clever lead-in to an article about a couple of drunken cowboys riding through Austin, TX streets.
“You can lead a horseback-riding cowboy to a watering hole, but you can’t make him drink responsibly. Police in Austin, Texas, arrested two men on charges of drunken driving after they allegedly blocked traffic on East Sixth Street while riding a horse and a mule.” His lead-in is funnier than the event, but if you want to get the full story, it’s here <http://www.aolnews.com/2011/01/13/austin-police-drunk-cowboys-arrested-on-horse-and-donkey/>