By Jeff Wilson
We teach our horses our language. To them it must be like learning Martian. What we say and what we do must make no sense to them. Like the movie ET, where boy and extraterrestrial touch and connect, ET speaks a couple two-word sentences like “Phone home” and “Be good.” Really? Is that what you came to earth to say to me? #letdown I feel like horses must just learn to comply with our madness.
What do they look at us and see? They see creatures whose deficits in navigating the world by sight, sound, and smell are paralleled only by their other deficits of reaction speed and ability to run away.
To them we are truly oblivious and defenseless to the world around us. With heroic empathy, they must see us and feel obligated to help us—a fellow prey species to those less fortunate. A “Save the Rabbits” campaign, of sorts, to save us from the wolves. “Can’t you even hear what’s approaching us through those woods!? It could be death!” They think below us, but look up at us in wonder and disbelief.
“Sure, we trust you, sure we do,” They respond with a shudder.
Consider this scenario from a typical night pasture where our domesticated horses graze without care and compare notes as we slumber. You know animals talk at night, right? That’s one of those “not in the books” truths that goes unspoken, but here, take a listen:
The easy-keep, dark brown bay, Ear Twist, stomps down candidly with a heavy hoof to speak. “They put those strange, flat cow bodies on our back so tight, and then climb up there and wiggle. I just don’t see how they have survived as a species!” The crowd of six swish their tails at make-pretend flies in herd agreement.
The gelding, Witherblade, lifts his speckled ewe neck, ripping out roots from his overgrazed, clover spot with his long teeth. Still chewing, he replies, “Before you got here, my pal, Sorefoot, got picked up and ate by this mean monster who ran backwards down that hard, dirt trail right back over yonder. All the people shoved him into its gaping mouth, which then banged shut. Then it ran back down the lane, backwards. It’s hot, sweaty breath pouring out from everywhere. Finally, with a strange growling and a toot toot sound, it left. My gosh, I still ran down into the woods in case it came back. The first words they said to me when they discovered me hiding I’ll never forget. They said, Here’s a Law ’n ornamen’, and they left me their best food from a bucket. To this day, I don’t go anywhere near them without showing them my best look—my wild, white eyes. As high up into the air as I can get them! Then I show them my teeth. I want them to see all my talents, don’t you think? The bottoms of my hooves, see here!” Witherblade jumps high into the air, leaving a trail of dust in the night sky like a shooting star as he bucks. “I’m so grateful.”
“We’ve seen your hooves,” Ear Twist blows out as he resumes his grazing. His overly developed width of body catching the Dale pony, Bardon, off guard with a bump, causing a fart panic.
“Kindly watch it,Twist, I come from a line of kickspookers” the Dale squeals, gathering his composure and adding a final hiccup. Tails arched, both horses trot their grass-filled bodies to more spacious resting spots.
“Well, the stupendously stupid, of momentous proportions, can be seen right here, every single week, in our own backyard,” Wanda Whinny snorts, her dappled coat and blonde mane sparkling in the moonlight as her sharp neighs echo across the midnight valley. “It’s when they mow down the best, most lush, juicy-sweet clover and let it rot on the ground. All around their wood places—where they sit and lay—they trample it right down to nibblings. They never let it grow. Then they have the audacity to feed us last year’s dried up old stale grass. Humph. Coarse stalks they find someplace. It’s wasteful, and downright rude. And considering those overly tiny, sweet pebbles they give us to lick, I’d just as soon give them my flat ears and a hind hoof for their trouble.” Wanda shakes her ears in unresolved contempt for the life she’s been given. The others, wise to her mare-ish ways, attempt to quiet her rage.
“I love all the rub, rub, rubbing they do, for hours, and I don’t have to even turn my head to rub them back,” the lovely Tennessee Walker, Starfoot, adds with a sooty neigh of appreciation. “No reciprocation required. It’s win-win.” *
“Don’t you just love the chatter of horses, Mel?” Bertha sighs in contentment, putting away the rest of the apple pie.
“Grunt,” says Mel, as he turns the page of his paper. “Doggone flies.”
*Hopefully some humor to brighten everyone’s day.
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