It was a lovely day, which was probably the only reason I wasn’t more pissed. It was two PM, I hadn’t had lunch, and I was waiting for a woman who’d promised to be there at noon.
“Beverly” had called me the night before, wanting to see Smoke. She was looking for a horse for her son, and she would be there at NOON, with her horse trailer.
When she hadn’t shown up at the barn by noonthirty, I’d gone back to the house. By one I was parked outside, wondering just how long this woman was going to be. She didn’t bother to call. By two I’d gone back in the house, figuring, stupid shit. She called me from the Gorsky’s barn, annoyed that there was NO ONE THERE to show the horse to her. I said, you were supposed to be here at noon. ‘So I’m a little late” she said, unapologetic.
When I got the barn, there was Beverly. She was, oh, about five feet five, and about four hundred pounds. I had no idea they made muu muus that big, and in such a loud pattern. She had bathroom slippers on her feet. I was standing downwind of her. She reeked of perfume. It was a vain attempt to disguise the fact that she hadn’t bathed. In a while. From then on, I stood up wind of her.
She was accompanied by her son, and a mousey little woman who never said a word. I had no idea who she was or why she was there. ‘Sonny’ appeared to be about 28 years old. He was wearing slacks, a shirt, and street shoes.
By this time, the ex had shown up. It was his horse, so I allowed him to do the honors of showing the horse.
First Beverly insisted we “stand him up”…on a sloping driveway. June came out to see what was going on and mentioned that “maybe you can get a better idea of how he stands if he’s on level ground.” Beverly sized June up like a coyote sizes up a vole. She snapped, “I can see he’s down in the back, I don’t need to see anymore.” June protested, ‘He’s not down in the back, he needs to be on level ground. ” Beverly ignored her.
She looked Smoke over with a practised air. “I’ve never seen you guys before. What shows have you done?” she said. We said, “We don’t show horses.”
“I been showing Appys for twenty-seven years, and I know everybody. I never seen this horse before. Where is he from?” We told her we bought him from the Decker’s, who’d used him to pony racehorses at the track. She could see we weren’t impressed with her credentials.
“He’s not purebred”. No, of course not. The ad says he’s half TB/half Appy, we THINK, because he’s got no papers.
“You need to get the registration papers. I prefer a purebred Appy.”
Well, that settles that. Sonny looked relieved. So did Miss Mouse. No papers, no sale, and somehow, I was happy.
We waited for her to leave, but apparently, she was going to give us another chance.
She orders the mousey woman to pick up Smoke’s feet. Smoke obeys, quite obediently. He’s got a bad hind foot! We told her in detail what we’d learned with his hoof. If she wanted, she could contact Terry Miller, his farrier for corroboration. She’d never heard of Terry, (who’d taught countless farriers at the community college) and she knew every farrier in Western WA.
Then she wants to see Smoke stand tied. I crossed my fingers. After his battle with the bungee cord, Smoke had never tried to break loose again. But you never knew with Smoke. He was crazy, even though he’d been pretty well behaved of late. The ex led Smoke to the arena. It is perhaps two hundred feet from Beverly’s truck to the arena. It took Beverly several minutes to get there.
“You have bad footing here” she said. It was gently sloping and ankle deep in grass.
She bellies up to the arena fence and leaned on it, gratefully.
The ex tied Smoke to an arena rail and watched. Smoke cocked a hind foot-the Bad One-closed his eyes and went to sleep. Smoke could do nothing better than any other horse. After twenty minutes of watching him doze, Beverly decided that Smoke would reliably stand tied.
OK, then, Beverly says, I want to see him under saddle. The ex leads Smoke into the arena, where the saddle is waiting.
“Why do you have him in an Aussie saddle?” she says. Ex says, “I like them.” “That will change. He’s a western horse.” The ex shrugged. She continued, unable to allow a male any sort of dignity. “And you have him in a snaffle? With an Aussie saddle? Why not a curb?”
Ex again shrugged. Smoke took the bit without a problem. I was proud of him, in a way. He was being so good. “He’s happy in a snaffle. Why have anything harsher?”I said. She sneered at me. “You don’t know anything about horse showing, do you?” “No”, I said, getting tired of this behemoth with the mouth, “I just ride them.”
Smoke minded his manners while being saddled. He didn’t even blow up. I think he was as perplexed with this woman as the rest of us were appalled.
The ex mounted him from the ground (he was tall enough he didn’t need a mounting block), and put Smoke through his paces. “He’s too fast.” Beverly says. “Pardon me?” “He trots too fast.” “Well, the ad DOES say he’s got a ‘ground covering trot”. “Why did you teach him to go too fast?” “We never taught him, he trots at his own speed.” “You’re supposed to slow him down if you want to show him.” She belched. “This horse is going to be a show horse for Sonny.”
All eyes turn to Sonny, who’s been trying to dissolve into the background the entire time. Sonny obviously wants NOTHING to do with horses in general and this one in particular. But Mommy is NOT going to accept “no” from Sonny. Mommy is a force of nature, a large one, and isn’t accustomed to being questioned…or doubted.
“OK, Sonny, try him out.”
“Oh, that’s okay,” Sonny says, “I think I’ve seen enough.”
Beverly’s brow clouds. “GET ON THAT HORSE and try him out.” she orders. Sonny reluctantly walks into the arena. Ex dismounts and politely holds Smoke, who by now is warmed up and ready to rock. Sonny tries to mount but can’t. Ex walks Smoke to the mounting block and waits for Sonny to make his way through the footing. It’s not easy to walk in it in street shoes.
Sonny mounts and settles, gingerly, into the saddle. He picks up the reins and holds them as if they were live snakes. The ex joins us on the fence line. Somehow, Sonny manages to get Smoke to walk.
Smoke walks, oh, two hundred feet. And stops. He turns his head and looks dead into Sonny’s face. He says very clearly, “You are an idiot and you cannot make me do anything.”
“Why are you stopping?!” Beverly yells, “Make him work!” “He won’t go” Sonny whines, “He doesn’t want to go.” Beverly is furious. “Kick him!” she shrieks. Sonny makes as if to kick Smoke but it’s obvious the last thing he wants is to actually make Smoke move. June protests, “HEY, you don’t have to kick him.””You’re trying to sell me a stubborn horse?” she growls. This is too much for June. For once, she and I are on the same page…this Beverly is as full of shit as a Christmas turkey. June snaps, “He’s not stubborn. Your son doesn’t know how to ride, and if you had bothered to read the ad it says this horse is NOT for beginners.”
“I TRAINED HIM TO RIDE. Your horse is stubborn.” Beverly roars back. I’d had enough. “Why don’t YOU ride him?” I said, sarcastically (hoping against hope she says no…she’s enormous). I had called her bluff. She shook her head. “I have horses. This horse is for Sonny.”
I could even hear Smoke’s relief when she refused to ride him. June says, “Tell you what, I’ll show him to you.”
Sonny gratefully got off Smoke, and stood on the block. He wasn’t going anywhere near Mommy.
June mounted Smoke. A graceful rider, she made him canter, trot, collected trot, side-pass, all the things a well-trained horse can do. Then she stopped in front of Sonny, and said, “OK, your turn.” Sonny cowered, shaking his head. Beverly said, “Get on him.” Sonny shrank into his shoes. He towered over Mommy only in height. He got off the block and walked past Mommy, right back to the truck. He was clearly unwilling to do any more riding.
I am sure he would much preferred a nice, quiet bicycle rather than a horse, but Mommy had Plans For Him. He got behind the wheel and sat, face set in stone.
Beverly’s face went red. She said, “I’ll call you if we decide to take him.” Miss Mouse got into the truck and Beverly followed.
Sonny could drive, that’s for sure. He had that truck and trailer rolling in no time flat.
We watched them drive away. June looked at the ex and said, “If you sell him to her, I’ll hate you forever.”
I said, “Don’t worry. She’s not coming back.”
I was right.