That’s One Heavy Horse

By C. L. Beck
© 2008

As a kid, I always wanted a horse. However, when you live on a lot the size of a Kleenex, in the suburbs of Washington D. C., the neighbors don’t take kindly to the fragrance of road apples.

The dream never died and when we moved to Utah, the hunt was on. Our son had never ridden, so a calm, gentle horse was a must. When we explained that to the owner we visited, his family exclaimed in unison, “Spooky!” It was a weird thing to say—as far as I knew, we didn’t look like Lily and Herman Munster. When I realized "Spooky" was the name of their horse, it should have been a clue to the animal’s personality. But I figured maybe they’d named her that because she was born on Halloween.

“Will you ride her so we can see how she responds?” my husband asked.

They nodded yes. Their son ran to the barn and in a few minutes brought out a prancing, side-stepping horse.

I wondered … is it normal to see the whites of a horse’s eyes?

The boy leaped on and the horse bolted before the kid’s backside even hit the saddle. They ripped around the arena, scaring the beejeebers out of the barn cat who sat sunning itself by a post. Horse and rider finally reared to a halt, inches away from us, and I had visions of Spooky falling over backwards onto us.

Dust filled the air, but my husband managed to cough out a few words. “Thanks so much, but I don’t think that horse is quite right for us.”

The next horse we visited was a Morgan named Sonja. She was calm, friendly and wanted to follow us everywhere. That was a good sign, wasn’t it?

She was so sweet we probably didn’t need to ask, but I did anyway. “Can we take her for a ride?”

By "we," I meant my hubby. After watching Spooky, the Devil Horse, rear up and flail the air, the only thing I was willing to climb on was a fence post.

Sonja stood quietly, nuzzling the owner’s arm as my husband swung into the saddle. She didn’t crow-hop or walk out from underneath him. That was another good sign.

He rode her in the arena, and she walked sedately, sticking close to the rail—so close my hubby’s knee bumped each post as he rode past. That darned horse was trying to rub him off. Apparently Sonja was great at being an affectionate, manure-producing pet, but not much good for riding.

It took some searching, but we finally settled on a white Arabian. We named her Sugar. I had visions of myself as Lawrence-etta of Arabia. The horse was fine-boned, regal … and not very bright.

We soon found out she also had this nasty cough. Every time she ate hay, she coughed.

Thinking she had a cold, we doctored her with a shot of combiotic … and for good measure, a couple slurps of honey. One did about as much good as the other, because she kept coughing.

Ok, I take that back; the combiotic didn’t do much, but the honey was useful. Hay stuck to her sticky lips and muzzle as she ate, which not only provided comic relief but also prevented her from blowing nasal mucus all over us when she coughed.

Eventually, I asked one of the old-timers about the problem. Reluctance flitted over his weathered face; he hemmed and hawed, and finally mumbled something about the horse being “heavy.”

Heavy? I thought. Of course, she’s heavy; she’s a horse! What nitwit doesn’t know that a horse is heavy?

It turns out the word wasn’t “heavy”; it was “heave-y.” As in, "Thet thar horse has the heaves." When you rode her, she’d cough every few steps. It was like sitting atop a walking earthquake and was about as much fun as having saddle sores. Eventually, we traded her to a guy who knew about her cough.

It was a good trade in my book. We got a hundred gallons of heating oil and he got a heavy horse with hay stuck to her lips.

(Interested in another short story about Sugar, the horse? You can read my story about her in the recently released book, Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers. Visit http://www.bythebecks.com/CoCHorse.html to read an excerpt or order the book.)

What's playing on my radio: Ghost Riders in the Sky by Marty Robbins
What's playing on my TV: Nothing
What's playing in my head: Same as what's on the radio

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Cheri J. Crane said...

Horses do possess unique personalities. My brother's horse, part Appaloosa, part roan, aptly named Cinnamon (She was a pink color) had quite a sense of humor. She thought it was great fun to let our dairy goats out of their small barn each night, after we had spent quite a bit of time putting these feisty creatures to bed for the evening.

We finally watched one night and Cinnamon had learned to twist open the latch to the goat barn with her nose. She leaned over the fence, stretched as far as she could reach, and smacked the latch a good one until it spun in the right direction. Then she grinned as the goats escaped to frolic in our garden. Good times. ;)

Cool blog.

Cindy Beck, author said...

Ha! Loved your story of Cinnamon and the goats. If Cup of Comfort ever does another horse lovers' anthology, you should submit that one.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.