Behind the Scenes: Horsefeathers

Or, Why Owning Horses Ain’t Always What It’s Made Out To Be

by Roy Huntington

Yeah, so, um …. we moved to “land” some ten years ago here and foolishly figured having a horse or two might be fun. Wife Suzi knew her way around ‘em from her youth so we bought “Speckles” a pretty, mostly polite Leopard Appaloosa, from what I understand they are called. Our neighbors also had some horses and we agreed to let ‘em all mingle on our land since we had plenty of grass and pasture. A Palomino (what an ego and an attitude in that one …), a Grey and a Paint of some sort, all set-up house. I’m no horse guru so I’ll apologize beforehand if I get some of the wording wrong here. But it all went swell for a while, and I’ll admit it was even sorta’ fun. Except for the horse poo everywhere, and feeding, brushing, washing, hay, medicines, vet bills, horse shoeing, fences broken and general mayhem ….

Did you know, in spite of what many might tell you, horses can be dumb? Like, dumb as a rock dumb? “Hey, there’s a really sharp bit of barbed wire there, I’ll walk into it and not feel it until I’m cut to shreds, then I’ll run around and knock down the loafing barn wall, then break through the gate and run off, and if you try to catch me, I might even run into the street and let a car hit me too.”

Oh, and most of the time they don’t come when you call them. Ask me how I know that?

Suzi with Speckles on the left and the Palomino. That’s Suzi in the middle…

But on the odd days they weren’t stepping on your feet, pressing you against the barn wall, or costing you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, they can be fun. We even rode them now and again. While we’re talking about riding, that whole thing about being “natural” and riding bare back and all that? Bad idea. You can’t hang on, for one thing, and you find all sorts of new tender places …. trust me on that. And you get to smell like a sweaty horse too.

But, horses are good for getting rid of old apples too. So if you have lots of old apples you need to get rid of, buy some horses and they’ll eat ‘em. That’d do the trick.

Yeah, Roy admits to getting all cowboy’d up now and again and whoop-ti-ty-ay-yay’d himself around. Suzi endured it all. Here’s Roy’s on Speckles and Suzi’s on the neighbor’s Grey named Silver, as best he recalls. Silver was a gent, but he was slowly losing his mind, which, Roy guesses, is something horses can do too.

Our neighbors moved, taking their three away (maybe there is a god after all …) and alas, poor old Speckles — he was much older than the guy who sold him to us happened to mention at the time — got some form of horsy cancer and our kindly vet put him down. I’ll admit I shed a tear or two, right along with Suzi. It’s a bit like being in pain and you get used to it, and when it stops, you sorta’ cry since you’re not used to being pain free?

This time Suzi has Speckles duty and Roy’s giving the Appaloosa a ride, bareback of all things. Not recommended, if you ask Roy. Can you say “ouch?”

I’ll admit Speckles had his moments and would even come if you banged his feed bucket on a fence post. He’d also step on my foot now and again, and decide laying down in the pasture and rolling over and over was a good idea, even if someone was riding him at that particular moment. But all-in-all, it was quite the … um … experience.

The Palomino had an attitude and when they visited the pasture to dole out treats or apple bits he’d always insist on digging around to make sure Suzi wasn’t holding out. Did they mention horses are heavy and tend to step on your feet a lot?

But, if you see a picture of our pastures these days you won’t find one particular thing in them, even if you look very closely — horses.

Good old Speckles. He passed away due to cancer but Roy has to admit he learned a good deal of “horse” living around Speckles.

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