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November 4, 2015

A horse is a horse, of course of course

Tom McLaughlin

Malta, Montana USA – Cody (my son-in-law) had come back from hunting dressed in his camouflage, beaming that he had shot an elk. The animal was being processed for us to have a taste before we leave in about a week. However, the time span had been an eternity for young lovers.


I had decided the two kids, Suriani and I should go for a walk. It was beautiful fall day, temperatures in the 60's and a wonderful time for me to go out on the Prairie and sing Oklahoma!


We started walking to the south pasture, looking for fossils and enjoying such a magnificent day. The cows and horses were on the horizon seemingly light years into the distance.


We weren't paying attention, but after about 15 minutes the horses appeared. They came ambling over and gave us a long sniff, each an up and down smell, nuzzling and wanting to be petted on the snout. We stroked them as both Leilia and Dzul petted their noses. They then ignored the kids and started to eat grass. Then, Suriani and the kids went on their way to search for bright colour and unusual stones. I followed.


Duke, one of the horses, was in the process of being "broke," which meant nothing to me except he had not been ridden. Apparently, he was purchased as a colt from someone. My daughter called him the idiot. He had not yet learned not to violate one’s personal life space.


Of course, I knew none of this and didn't even know a horse knew about such things as personal life spaces. I had always thought this concept was reserved for humans. I had been told to be wary of him, but all seemed blissful on this Montana Prairie morning.


We walked to a pile of stones and I felt a nudge on my back and there was Duke wanting what I thought was another rub on his nuzzle. I gave him a good pet and then walked off. A few seconds later, the horse gave me a back slap with his nose which sent me ambling forward. I turned and faced him and yelled" No." We were face to face and he showed his teeth and upper gums. This was okay, I thought, because the horse known as "Mr. Ed" from the 1960s television series did this, and I thought it was a sign of friendliness. I petted him again and talked softly as I had seen Cody do in the training ring. I turned and walked away and he placed his massive head over my shoulder and began to kick his front hoof forward. I knew then I had a problem.


I yelled to Suriani to take the kids back to the house and I maneuvered me and the horse away from them. We danced toward the far end of the pasture with me trying to get the sun in his eyes. This was another television strategy that popped up in my mind, but it didn't seem to work. He kept coming at me seemingly wanting to pick me up or kick me or some other horse-inspired harm.


When I saw Suriani and the kids were safe, we danced around the pasture with him getting very close, showing his teeth where a dentist good easily have examined him. He then had a bowel movement and I thought that might have been his problem. I turned my back, walked away and then heard the thundering hooves coming toward me. I stopped turned around and he did the same again with the teeth and the raising of his head under my arm pit. I think he wanted to throw me somewhere.


I had yelled at Suriani to get Cody, several times as I realized I was in trouble. She told me through hand gestures that the couple was indisposed and could not be disturbed. I would have to wait as she was not going to disturb them.


I thought I could dance with the horse a bit more until they had finished. The horse now tried to grab my jacket and I refused to let go yelling at the horse. Finally, after an hour, I got him to a place where there was a line of bushes and small trees.


My thought was to place a bush between me and the horse. However, I didn't know there was space between the shrubs for the horse to move through. We did a ballet, me and the horse, always keeping a bush between us. He finally reached over and bit me on the shoulder which resulted in a minor bruise and indentation on my skin.


We continued our dance in a Figure-8 between the shrubs, with me chasing the horse or the horse chasing me, I couldn't be sure which.


Finally, Cody and Mary came running out of the house and the horse saw them and started to gallop toward them. Cody picked up a big stone and managed to hit him in the side. Meanwhile, he charged at my son who was being brought down from the house by my wife who wasn't going to miss any part of the action.


The horse missed him by a wide margin with Cody and Mary shouting at him. This bit of humor lasted only about five seconds and the horse went galloping off into the field.


I related this incident, as a bandage was applied to my shoulder, to my hyena laughing daughter and a grinning son-in-law. At a church supper, and later at a surprise birthday party for a parishioner, I told what I assume was a humorous antidote of my adventures in the fields. They looked at me as if no horse would ever get the best of them at any time. One of them suggested I pick up a stick next time and hit him in the nose. I asked where was I going to get a stick in the grasslands.


I am now ready to get the horse and give him one massive throttle to show him who’s boss. On second thought, typing on my computer, looking out on the fields and watching the horse at play was fine.


Yes indeed, just fine.


...Life is good


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