Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The importance of a name

Mother has a little problem... she likes naming things. So everyone I know ends up with a nickname, like Haj or Thippers, or just a really weird name like me.

I know humans often look at Mother oddly about my barn name. "Boyfriend". What kind of name is that for a horse?

It is partly my fault, I must admit. I was out in the bachelor band, which was lots of us Nokotas from several birth years. I had met Mother earlier that August day, but when she came out with with one of the hay feeding men to identify me, I pretended I didn't know who she was because there was someone else there. She called, "Come on, buddy. Come on over here, boyfriend." I'm a boy. I want to be her friend... I backed up from my hay (at the time she didn't know what a miracle that was) and visited with her.

The next morning, she came with another hay feeding man, and I was way at the back of the grass on the pasture, but I heard her call,"Come on, Boyfriend." I didn't know at the time Boyfriend was a different sort of word than just Boy and Friend. Words can be really confusing.

Mother tried to come up with other names for me, but I ignored her. I only answered to Boyfriend. Boyfriend has a certain panache, a certain status other horses will never achieve. It's like I am a person.

Of course, Pony Devlin's barn name was easy to figure out... Devil-in-Pony. Mother said actually, after he had a few "religious experiences", that he was not really so devilish at all. It's a pony thing.

Mother gave him his registered name: Hide the Silver. Some humans said that wasn't very nice, it made him sound like a common thief. Well, I lived with him, he stole my food whenever he could! Mother said it was a fun, mischievous name for a fun, mischievous pony. And that it was hard to see where all of his white (silver)markings were in his wild winter coat.

Mother had a horse before she got us from North Dakota. She would always tell me I had some big shoes to fill and would pat me, but I don't even wear shoes. I have seen other horses with shoes, but they seem kind of heavy and odd... and it hurts more when you get kicked by shoes. Any way, after she found out about the hole in my leg and the surgeon's report, she stopped saying that about Cappy's shoes.

His name was Bookeeper. Mother says he was solid citizen, a kind of Clark Kent guy who seemed like your normal, everyday tax accountant, but led a secret exciting life when no one is around, capable of great deeds. I don't think that name makes any sense. Bookkeepers sound boring. And she spelled it wrong.

Then there's me. Mother says there was no reason she should have chosen me from all my relatives. I had an infected, pus-clumped hole and was kind of short and not as pretty of a mover as some of my cousins. But I had chosen her, and obviously needed her.
My name is Chant du Coeur. That's 'song of the heart' in French. She chose French because in my great-grand-horses parentage, when we were marched back from the cold north lands after losing our Sioux humans, and arrived a far smaller number than we began, a Frenchman bought the majority and raised and worked us for many of our generations, and she'd rather use a French name than Kicking Feather or whatever.

Mother said in the months between meeting me and her second trip to decide who to bring to Ohio, she always felt like her heart told her to pick me, even though her mind said otherwise. She took pictures of me her second trip, and even though her friends thought it was crazy to pick the holey horse, Mother couldn't help but smile whenever she saw "my sweet face"... she saw me, not my hole.

Now, everyone tells me how handsome I am. Most humans never even notice the scar on my face. They tell me I'm beautiful. And beautiful horses always get the most cookies.

First ride... by a montain lion!!

Before Mother realized I had more holes than just my face, she wanted me to be her "riding horse". She brought me and Devil-in-Pony (I mean Devlin Pony) from North Dakota and planned to teach us both how to be riding horses. She said Pony would find a new home before too long since she was too lazy to diet, but that she would keep ME! I guess Devlin did find a new home, because I haven't seen him in a long time, although for a while after he left she would come to visit me each day and a lot of times I could smell dust and hair on her that smelled like Devlin.

The hole in my face took a long time to heal, so while when Pony lived with me Mother would put a funny pad with a belly strap on us, she said to get us used to belly straps. Soon she would saddle us, on our necks and our bellies and haunches and finally on the back, and lead us up next to things to lean on us. Pony Devlin never minded , and I saw her walk around on Devlin and eventually trot and stuff. I just got saddled. Sometimes she would lean on me a little bit but I didn't really like that. It felt funny with the saddle on. It was rigid and not like being petted.

When I met Mother out in North Dakota, the second day she came out to me and put her arm over my back and in her mind I could see pictures of us running along green grass and jumping logs and things I didn't understand. I didn't understand, but I was willing to learn. I didn't know then she meant I would have to wear this saddle and have someone on me!

One day Mother had Aunt Marilyn (she's a nice lady that feeds me) hold me when I was saddled and she leaned on me which I'd mostly forgotten was creepy and then she actually sat on me. That felt odd. It was kind of scary, but OK. The scariest part was when she got off my back. Suddenly she is right along side me when she had been UP THERE. and the sound when her feet hit the ground. Whomp. It was very unsettling.

She did that a few more times over the next days, then one morning Mother had Aunt Karin hold me. I'd only met Aunt Karin the day before, but she is a lot like Mother. After Mother climbed aboard, Aunt Karin started walking with me. I heard Mother say before that the first walk can be dangerous, and I have to say, it's still all very hazy in my mind. I walked quickly and felt little movements on my back as my muscles, which I never noticed before, couldn't move as much because the saddle didn't move and there was more pressure on one side but Aunt Karin let me move along and when I relaxed Mother got off. I didn't understand why Devlin liked this.

So, where's the mountain lion? Well, Mother didn't have anything connecting her to me but the saddle and her legs, and her hands petting me. So that doesn't really count as a ride. So the first ride:

The next day, she had Aunt Marilyn hold me, and she put reins on my halter. Pony used a bit and bridle, but I had my hole in my head, and Mother hadn't taught me... and something about getting pus all over her nice leather. Mother put the reins on the halter because she said I might walk too fast for Aunt Marilyn.

We start walking and my back started feeling weird and I needed to walk faster. Aunt Marilyn couldn't walk that fast, and I ended up walking in front of her, I swung in front of her and there was a fence! I couldn't walk. That is when Mother turned into a mountain lion and I knew I had to get the lion off me very fast or I would die. I taste just like chicken!

I don't remember much of trying to get the mountain lion off. I know I reared and turned and ran, leaping and throwing my body to try to rid it of the lion. Halfway along the fence we had just come I vaguely heard Aunt Marilyn yell, "I no longer have a hold of him!" And from closer, Mother saying, "I'm AWARE!!"

Mother?! Where was she while the mountain lion attacked me? I could hear her calling out to ho-up, but the lion was there, and I couldn't stop. At one point I paused at the fence, I thought I heard her over the lion's breathing, then the lion shifted on my back and I knew he had to go! It was only a matter of time before his teeth and claws raked me to Bif-ereens. I ran, leaping, bucking, launching myself into the air as hard and as fast as I could. After what seemed a long time around the ring, I felt the mountain lion fly off. My head jerked as the halter tightened, and I spun and looked... Mother? Why are you there on the ground? What happened to the mountain lion?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I was thinking about hay. I admit, I often think about hay. Next to Mrs.Pasture's cookies and grass, and sometimes my grain, hay is the best thing in the world!

Mother doesn't give me much grain. She says I look like a brood mare far along in her pregnancy. Is it my fault that I am from North Dakota and have a very conservative metabolism?
She does give me grain, but not much and it is ruined by all this other stuff she puts in it... weird other pellets, some even taste like seaweed! That little hint of alfalfa isn't hiding much! And other things I don't even know how to describe. She says I have to eat them, that they are good for my joints and that they'll make me more comfortable and that she spends a lot of money on them. Why does she bother? They're gross! She soaks my grain first and mixes all the other stuff in, so I really don't have a lot of choice. But the pellets are better than powder. I hate powder. Unless it's that apple-y stuff Mother calls 'bute'... yum.

Of course, when I first came to her and had a hole in my head, she used to do even weirder things to my grain. She mixed in warm oatmeal with sugar (YUMM!!) but ruined it by this weird tasting powder. Uncle Jeff, my dentist, found out I'll eat my medicine as pills and just chucked them in my grain. Sure, they do taste kind of gross, but I'd rather have a pill I can crunch and just swallow, instead of my whole grain tasting like that...

Fortunately, Mother hasn't found a way to ruin my hay. It's the best!! I like it better than the hay back home... I don't have to share it with all those other horses. She gives me a lot, too, which is VERY important. Some of it is boring, and I don't like to eat that real fast. I like the leafy alfalfa and other really green stuff best, though I don't get nearly as much as that. The boring hay is always there all night long, and I can munch at it whenever I get hungry through the night.

When I first came to Ohio, I would start eating hay, and nothing could stop me. Back in North Dakota, if you didn't eat fast, one of the others would take it.I have since figured out that the hay never stops coming here. I love Ohio. Sometimes, Mother has even bedded my entire stall with hay. Something about low shavings and needing to make room for more hay anyway. I walked in the first time and thought I might have been hallucinating. And really, was I expected to eat all that?

So now Mother is trying to figure out how much boring hay to get for this winter. I want her to get just the green alfalfa-y stuff. I do NOT look like a brood gelding!! Thank goodness she doesn't think cookies make me fat. I'd be lost without my cookies... crunchy, oaty... YUMMM!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Language Arts: English 101

Mother often says I understand English better than most 'farm raised' horses who've been around people their whole lives. She thinks I'm smart. Of course, that is true. But really, the answer is a lot simpler than that...

Like I've mentioned before, I talk with my mind. Words don't make a lot of sense to me, but sensations and feelings and pictures do make sense. I grew up with lots of horse minds all around me, always accessible. Understanding Mother is easy because I just look at the pictures in her mind, the way I would another horse. Her mind is easier to read than most humans, because it is really empty inside.

When I am in her mind, it is a big space with sensations, pictures, all around me. Most of the time they move slowly, one picture at a time and one sensation along with it. Mother's sensations are usually pleasant, so I like trying to be in her mind. Best, it's quiet in there. Like munching grass on a cool morning... yummmm... munch munch munch.

When I am frightened, I can look in Mother's mind and that makes me calmer. Sometimes there are darker areas around the edge that seem translucent yet dusky, and I can almost see pictures there, but I can't really make them out, most of the time. I cannot quite see if the pictures are happy pictures, but I can tell by sound. Sometimes it seems those dark areas have noise, a not nice noise, an almost hissing noise, and that makes me uneasy. She'll notice I am upset, then I look again in her mind, the dark spots are gone, and that is good.

I didn't like many humans other than Mother at first, because there was so much noise in their minds when I tried to look in. I didn't like them near me unless Mother was there, too, and I could just listen to her mind. Sometimes their noise comes out and finds me, even when I'm not trying to look in their minds. If I physically look at them, they are looking at me. Creepy!

After a while, I got used to other humans' minds and noise. Mother has a noisy mind when she talks on the little black flippy box, and sometimes around other humans at the barn and it makes my head hurt. Some pictures are bad, even though I am not in the pictures. I try to close my mind when she is like that.

I learned that most humans seem to have full minds and lots of noise swirling in them. That doesn't mean they are going to hurt me. They might even give me cookies! Sometimes if they stand near me, their minds seem to get quieter, and I like that. Sometimes I look in them and it is interesting, but I like Mother's mind best.

Of course, if I snort at the right time or prick my ears when she says something about me, my chances of getting an extra Mrs. Pasture's cookie at good night time seem to improve ... cookies... yum!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Baths...Really? Why?

Anything nice I said about Mother, I retract. I am a nice horse. I let myself be caught from the field with no problem. Sure, I figured there was a nice grooming and dinner in it for me. Or maybe dinner, then a brushing, then the rest of my hay. I love that. Sometimes there is no brushing, but there is still dinner. There is always dinner. Except that one time (or two, or three) I was at the hospital and waiting for surgery. No dinner! That's just awful.

What were we talking about? Oh, right, coming in, expecting dinner. But NO! I am cooperative, and what does it get me??

Cold, cold water from the blue snake. Sigh. FINE. But then she grabs the sponge and curry and the soapy bucket and... hello!! I was just warming up from the cold water dosing and she rubs the cold water into my coat?!? With the smelly foam?!

And she is thorough. Every little nook and cranny. Slosh, scrub, slosh, scrub, slosh, scrub. And then my face. Actually, I kind of like the face. Then rinse. Rinse. Rinse. The face rinse was kinda nice. Then scrape, scrape, scrape.

OK, I understand that since humans have no hair (well, they have skimpy manes, I guess) they have different ideas about what is clean enough and what isn't. If she thinks that scrubbing my body is good for me, I can deal. It's not that bad. On a hot summer day, the coolish water feels kind of good. And while it's colder out right now, I guess it's really no worse than being pushed into the pond by one of my brothers back home in North Dakota in the winter. But...

I get a hot dinner mush every night. I know there is some hot water. Why can't she use that on me? Why?

And the halter! I should have known when she came out with the fuscia nylon halter (she says 'raspberry purple', but it's pink) that something weird was going on. I never have to wear that, because I convinced Mother I don't like it, that I only like my black leather halter. I know she thinks the color looks good on me, and says it's purple, but it's pink!!

So, I was a good boy. Sure, I may have purposely aimed my poop into the drain, where it will steep and fester, but a) I never liked that drain, b) she can't prove I did it on purpose. So, I was perfect. And how did she reward me?

She put a big green amoeba on me!!

There are lots of amoebas in the human world that a horse has to learn about. Take, for instance, the amoeba Shavingophilos Gargantigiganticus.
Range: Anywhere. Everywhere! There is one that lives right outside my barn!
Description: blackish brown nebulous blob of indeterminate shape. Sometimes it swells as high as my head and two body lengths in any direction. And it has these creepy edges. Yuck. And sometimes it has appendages, the shovels and brooms to keep it from rising up and coming into the barn!
Movement: erratic. Not only does it move from day to day in broader motions, it can make many small movements, apparently of it's own volition. Although I have noticed this seems to happen on windy days. Hmmm... Perhaps, like us, it feels more unsettled when atmospheric pressures change and usher in weather fronts that are carried by the winds.
Diet: undetermined. This is really what creeps me out about it. One day there is nothing there but the small pile of shavings in its enclosure, then boom! There's this full blown amoeba! What around here could it eat to get that big that fast? But everyone is still in the barn. And the humans actually peel back it's crinkly amoeba skin and stab it with shovels, and they've never been eaten.
Classification: presumed safe. It hasn't eaten anyone yet, so I just keep an eye on it.

Oh, so anyway, Mother puts this big green amoeba on me, and I couldn't see my legs! I barely had hooves! Diet: ME!!

Once it was on awhile, it got nice and warm in the amoeba cocoon. And when we went outside so I may eat the grass, other horses were horrified to see I had been engulfed by an amoeba! But the grass was really good. Fresh, new green, yummmmm...

So Mother then takes off the amoeba. Cooler, but fine. She combs and brushes my mane. Fine. My tail. FINE. She commences spraying me with stuff out of a bottle. Wet again, allover. I just had dried off!! FINE.

Then I had to stand there while she readied my stall. Oh, come on!! Can't I have dinner?

Finally, dinner. And it had Mrs. Pasture's cookies mixed in. What a good day.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Welcome to my world

I am Boyfriend. This is my chance to tell how I came to be, and how I am still here.

Boyfriend is what Mother calls me, but most people find that too embarrassing, so you can call me Bif. When I say Mother, I mean my human, but that is how she refers to herself, "Mother", so I go along with it. No one is brave enough to point out to Mother the inappropriateness of naming a horse Boyfriend and then that that same horse should view her as mother. That is at least two kinds of wrong. Maybe three. Math isn't my strong suit. Rest assured though, our relationship is 100% agape.*

I have, over the two years of our lives together, taken to using her technological devices. In the beginning, I didn't understand that she could use that tiny black flippy plastic box to communicate to other humans. Horses don't need those. We talk with our minds. Why complicate things? I knew she wasn't speaking to me (well, it took a few funny incidents, I admit), but I didn't understand that some other human far away in the world was physically hearing her, and that is why Mother was talking. Since then, I call people, they call me, I send and receive emails. She mutters about the cost of Wi-Fi down at the barn and how I must keep the keyboard under my mats and that is why I sometimes paw them up. Silly human, I don't need a keyboard. I mean, really, that is just silly. My hooves are too big for the keys and my tongue isn't nearly as limber as that. No, I use the power of my mind to express my wishes, and they are put into print. And I am trying to reach Jay's hay under the wall.

Hey, it's no weirder than radio waves. Besides, the willing suspension of disbelief is crucial to a well rounded sense of humor.

Why, you may ask, am I special? It is not my grasp of technology... lots of horses write blogs. I am special because... well, in part because I am holey. Or at least in some ways that's how my specialness is revealed to people.

Every horse has a hole in it. My holes just happen to be physical. Literally. I had a hole in my head when I first met Mother. And after that was all over, she found out about the hole in my leg, stifle to be precise. And after she fixed that, well, let's just say you can't fix that. They took out the hole (sounds kind of paradoxical, doesn't it?), but I'll get more holes. I am very holey.

But if you ask Mother, she'll say I am special because I chose her. I had the chance, lots of chances actually, to pick a human before, but none were quite right. And it is foolish to wait around for the right one, in some respects, because if you take too long you can be sent away from the choosing fields. I was already six, long after most of my brothers and cousins of my birth year had picked their humans (or just been picked by the humans, which is rather brave and a touch foolhardy on those humans' parts). The story of my choosing my human will wait. I must tell you the secret, though, that is me. And while Aunt Nancy says I am the luckiest unlucky horse in the world, I know it isn't luck...

I am special because I am Horse. Spirit horse told me to pick the human I did, because I could learn to be with humans and be able to still be Horse. And despite my holeyness, I am still here. I am all that is strength and beauty and cooperation. And sometimes fear. I am impatient, peaceful, master, prey. I am Horse.

They say horses are noble. They look at my beautiful arched neck, my graceful head (I am not being vain, just stating facts), and say how lovely and noble Horse is. I have a secret for you, though. No matter how Horse we are... Really, I just want a Mrs. Pasture's horse cookie. Mother gives me a kiss on the schnozzle every night before she leaves and then gives me a cookie. She gives me "one for the road", sometimes, too. I just love those things!!!!

Yummm, cookies...

*Agape: Unconditional, self-sacrificing, thoughtful love. The highest and purest form of love, one that surpasses all other types of affection. Roughly paraphrased, thanks Wikipedia.
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