Sometimes, horses are like men. no, actually, MOST of the time, horses are like men. Or perhaps it’s the opposite: horses are merely four legged men you can ride.
After you’ve been married a while, you know that your husband loves you but that there are times when he is focused on things more important than you parading past him wearing nothing but a come hither look. Times like: watching the football game. If you are realistic, you understand that he still loves you, as much as he is capable of, but that you are not tied up in the fourth quarter, fourth and ten at the two minute warning.
And please, if I screwed that up, I apologize. About the only thing I know of football is that the team wearing the white pants are the ones to watch. When they bend over in a huddle, sometimes you’ll see that the men aren’t wearing underwear. That’s a lot more than what I know of any other sport played with a ball, including polo.
I’m just parroting football phrases that evoke huge reactions from men. These phrases assume an awesome importance, a level so high that it causes every man in the vicinity of a TV to put down their beer in order to watch.
Learning a couple of sports (or automotive) related phrases gives a woman a huge advantage when dealing with men. If some man tells me he’s rebuilding a seventies era Chevy muscle car, all I need do is ask, “is it a two bolt or a four bolt main?” to immediately gain an enormous amount of awe and respect from him. Let’s never mind that I no longer remember quite what it was in regards to, merely that it’s got something to do with the drivetrain, and that four bolts was better than two. Repeating that phrase was like saying Open Sez Me at the gates into Manlihood. I was allowed into the inner sanctum of a portion of Man Land. I was a Woman who Understood Engines.
( to be honest, I DO understand engines, up to and including turbines. But this is a horse blog.)
Horses are like men. I should amend that, geldings are a lot like men. I say that only because I’ve only ridden mares on a few occasions. Mares are just like women, and I surely understand that. Stallions are too few and far between in my experiences to really address. So I confine my remarks to geldings.
Most geldings understand that we female humans love them. Like your typical guy, though, that doesn’t mean much to them. We lavish them with love, attention, treats, blankets that compliment their color, saddle pads with fancy piping, saddles that fit them and not us, high priced foods like alfalfa and crimped oats, etc. They don’t give a rip. They’re like the boyfriend you’re trying (without admitting that it’s in desperation) to impress by cooking a five course dinner, with fine china, crystal glass ware and candles, and he says, “Can we order a pizza?” At which you stick the fine meal in the fridge and call for the meat lover’s pizza and a ice cold beer.
Geldings don’t care that you love them. Like a controlling spouse, if they obey you one time out of ten, don’t kick, bite or step on you, and at least acknowledge that they recognize you, we women will accept it. we will respond with all the things he appreciates: grooming, food, attention. We don’t let our dogs get away with that, a dog will actually, honestly and outright love you and show it. Horses don’t give a rip.
It’s that way with my horse, Trooper. I’ve been leasing him for about eight months now. I stop by the barn every day and feed him treats. I tell him I’m not always there to make him work, that this is just an I love you visit. I groom him, tidy up his stall, whisper loving things to him. I spent umptybump dollars on a saddle fitter to fit a saddle to him, one that, while it’s a lovely saddle, doesn’t quite suit me. I’ll accept it, because it’s his back that I worry about. If mine aches after a ride, I can deal with it. I pretend it will strengthen my lumbar region, hoping that stressing it will result in more calcium deposition and raising my bone scan levels from the dismal -3 it is now.
Trooper takes it all in as if it his due. He doesn’t respond with a loving look in his eye. He doesn’t hug me like a good boyfriend, or roll over and beg me for a belly rub like a dog does. He merely accepts my servitude with a calm air, knowing that I am a sucker for a pretty bay.
Like the controlling spouse, though, he does know how to manipulate me. I know that now.
Yesterday, I stopped by the barn, even though I had a million things to do before Thanksgiving. I’d cut up a fresh carrot before I left the house. I had hoped to have time to take his blanket off and give him a good grooming, but I ran out of time.
As I drove through the downpour, I saw Trooper and Penny, the Alpha Mare, grazing in the pasture furthest from the barn.
I stopped, and called Trooper. He raised his head, obviously recognizing me. But he was hanging with the Mare, you know, he can’t be seen as actually honoring me with anything more than bland recognizance. Oh. It’s you. The ape who rides me. You’re not going to saddle me up today, are you? No? Good.
But I had a secret weapon, actually, two. Penny is the mare, and she knows that I usually arrive bearing treats. I have only ridden her once, so she knows that when I call, it’s to give treats and nothing more. And she is greedy.
To remind Trooper who I was, I began singing the carrot song: “Who wants carrot? Carrot, carrot, carrot? Who?” Penny, being a Mare, is a lot smarter. She immediately began trotting over to the fence. Only then did Trooper drop the Cool Posture and follow Penny. He did so only because he saw that I wasn’t going to walk into the soaking wet, knee high grass in my street shoes in order to give him a treat. Trooper hurried after Penny so that he could get his share of the carrots.
The rain was just pouring down, so I hurriedly doled out the carrot pieces, told them they were good horses, and got back into my truck.The horses went back to grazing. I drove up to the barn, because I wanted some fresh eggs, still warm from the hens. Even the chickens know me as a Bearer of Treats and respond. When I drive up they come running, knowing I’ll throw some scratch to them. Of course, they’re smart. They’re hens.
I got four eggs, and began to get back into the truck, already planning on using the eggs for lemon pie.
That’s when I heard thundering hooves.
It was Trooper. He came racing up from the back pasture, flagging, his head high and noble. He looked like The King of The Wind in a pretty blue blanket. He WHINNIED at me. He came right up to the fence, nickering, begging me for another treat.
I felt like the homely freshman being noticed by the handsome Senior Class president. Trooper actually came running to me. He actually whinnied to me and nickered. He Cares. I don’t care what the realist in my mind says, that horses are merely stomachs with feet. My heart said, “he cares. He loves me.”
I know better. He’s merely a manipulator, a controller, doling out little bits of acknowledgement so that he gets carrots and peppermints and cookies. I went into the feed room, got a handful of horse cookies, and went back out into the rain, to feed them to him and Penny, who’d come up, too.
It makes no damn difference to me. My Little Pony Loves Me.
I wonder if I can find those fancy imported oats?