This morning, we went for our first “official” volunteer day at a place in Florida called Hidden Spring Horse Rescue. My daughter was supposed to go, too, but came down with a nasty head cold, so it was just my son and I.
We knew the owner/director wouldn’t be there, but that there would be a couple other volunteers, as well as their ranch hand. The volunteer we were supposed to be working under hadn’t arrived yet, so we watched the trainer lunging a beautiful Arabian gelding named Houdini. After doing that for a while , she got the saddle out.
This was only the second time Houdini had been under a saddle and ridden. After she mounted him, he just kind of stood there. Didn’t want to budge. Still not quite sure what he was supposed to do. Kind of like how I felt.
After no success at getting him to move, I asked if she wanted one of us to come into the center of the ring and crack the whip to see if that would help. She said, “If you want to.” So, I did and I did and it did. Houdini moved when I cracked the whip in the dirt. Actually, it was more like a long crop kind of whip. When you say “whip” to me, I think “bullwhip” and remember my vow that, someday, I’m going to get one, learn to use it and snuff candles out with it. Just for starters. Anyways….
He was going great for about ten minutes when he suddenly had a burst of speed, then got spooked, then started to buck, then threw the trainer, who landed with a thud in the sand. Fortunately, she was not hurt; just had the wind knocked out of her. Training session over.
After she was able to breathe again and could get up, the trainer took the saddle off Houdini and led him to the bathing area. As she rinsed him off, I jokingly wondered, out loud, if he would roll around in the field, afterwards. She said, “No, he’s not really a roller.” She finished rinsing him, led him to one of the pastures and released him.
The trainer was done with her work and, since the other volunteer still hadn’t shown up, she suggested maybe we could do some grooming. So, we released the Minis! Three miniature horses. After several attempts, it was clear that the Minis did not want to be groomed, especially now that they were out of their stalls and had fresh grass to eat.
The trainer suggested that we try some of the regular-sized horses that were out in some of the back pastures, instead. (She didn’t really say “regular-sized”; I just wanted to clarify that for you.) As we started walking, we glanced over at Houdini, who had taken only about ten minutes to find the driest, sandiest, dustiest spot and was gleefully rolling all over in it. The trainer glanced over at me. “You had to mention rolling, didn’t you?” Oops.
The first pasture had three horses and, again, none of them wanted anything to do with us, nevermind grooming. So, it was off to the next pasture. The two horses that were there they absolutely wanted to be groomed and stood patiently for us. As we were beautifying them, the previous three horses came over and were obviously jealous of all the attention that was being bestowed on their neighbors.
When we were done grooming the two horses, my son and I crossed back into the first pasture that had the jealous trio. One of the horses was not interested in us at all, anymore, and had returned to its grazing. The second was very interested in us, sniffing us all over and nudging us, but wasn’t interested in being groomed, at least not for a bit. The third one, however, was ready for some grooming, and, as we got started, I asked about the name and history of this particular animal.
Earlier, when we had asked the trainer the names and backgrounds of horses, she wasn’t always sure who they were based simply on their coloring or face; she needed to know if they were a boy or girl to be more certain.
So, when I asked her the name of the horse we were grooming, I quickly glanced at the underside of the horse and announced he was a boy. She still wasn’t sure what his name was, though. A minute later, the horse lifted “his” tail and peed. “That’s a girl,” she said. Oops. (I think this is where my husband paused reading, turned to look at me and just shook his head.)
Now, I’ve been around horses a bit, and been on them a few times, but I know I have a lot to learn. Just starting out at square one or maybe one-and-a-half. Sort of like Houdini. While I don’t know everything about horses, I do know general things, including the differences between a gelding, stallion, and mare. Or, so I thought.
See, when I quickly glanced under the horse’s belly, I saw two flaccid, knobby-ish things hanging down. Needless to say, in the split second before my eyes saw and my mouth spoke, it did not occur to me that those were the mare’s teats/nipples/udders. I just quickly assumed they were where the, uh, you-know-whats used to be before “he” was gelded. Didn’t even notice that there was a major third part missing.
Hey, I never looked that closely at a mare, before! Never looked that closely at any horse’s nether regions, for that matter. I can usually tell who’s what from a respectful distance…usually. Hmmm…it was a very hot day. I wasn’t thinking sharply. Maybe it was heat stroke? Have I ever mentioned that sometimes I can’t see the forest for the trees? Or that I have, on rare occasion, been accused of being blonde? Speak before I think? Well, there ya go!
Oh, I can think of a couple of my friends who aren’t going to let me forget this one for a while….
(Just heard a commercial saying, “Because chickens don’t have nuggets.” Thought about changing the title to “Because mares don’t have nuggets.”, but I think I’ll refrain.)