Yesterday, January 17, was my sixth anniversary of being a “pleasure horse.” My humans call it my birthday, although they have no actual idea how old I am (but they like to guess), or when I was really born, and I ain’t tellin’. Pleasure horses don’t do nothing useful, as far as I can tell. But they bring me a bucket filled with horse-candy every night, and they brush me often, and have a “farrier” trim my feet, and a “vet” poke and prod me with things, which they tell me is good for my health. A “vet,” for those horses who don’t know, is a petite, quiet-talkin’ lady who looks and sounds like she loves horses but who’s really an evil, sadistic monster, worse than any mean bull on the range, ‘cause at least you know where you stand with the bull.
This was me in January 2004, fresh off the ranch by way of the auction, rough ‘n’ ready.
And this was my ranch haircut. They don’t like messin’ with burrs and tangles on the ranch, so we all get the buzzcut. They shaved my forelock off and shaved me a long bridle path so my mane wouldn’t tangle in the bridle for working.
Since then, they’ve made me do a lot of things, some downright strange, some kinda fun, but mostly on the strange side. I do ‘em all, though, ‘cause it really ain’t that bad, and I got a good life here. It’s a racket bein’ a pleasure horse.
They tried to feed me “cookies” and “carrots” when they first brought me to the new ranch where the pleasure horses and “show horses” lived, but I wanted no part of that for a long time. Eventually I came around. The people there kept insisting I try ‘em. Finally I took a bite; I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, when they was being so darned nice to me all the time, and not even making me work any. And then, it was so darned good. I still don’t like “apples,” though. But I do like “crunchy peanut butter granola bars.”
First off when they put me on the little horse-truck and took me to the new ranch, I met this guy. I like to call him Original Coors, Coors for short.
Oh, he’s got a real name, alright, and what he calls a “registered name” (registered for what, exactly?), but Coors is funnier. The cowboys liked to make fun of the other guys who drank Coors beer instead of “good” beer (although I think all beer tastes pretty good, especially at the end of a 12-hour workday), and I like to make fun of the horse I call Coors, so it works for me. The name got funnier when Coors Light, his bonafide half-brother, showed up about a year ago. I know I look resigned to the situation, and believe me, you would be, too. Now I got two of ‘em.
So here’s some of the crazy things they make this poor old ranch pony do.
There’s some of this. I like this cowboy. He’s kind to me, and don’t make me work hard.
Then there’s “pony rides” for little cowpokes.
And “pony rides” for some bigger greenhorns.
Sigh. There’s some of this too.
And this. Don’t ask.
And trail riding, which is like going out to work for the day, only without doing anything useful like looking for cattle or fixing fences, and we’re usually done before we’ve hardly started.
And then there’s the really funny cattle work they call the “hunt club.” They bring short-legged, floppy-eared little cattle dogs and set ‘em all loose in the desert, and then we gotta round up the dogs and bring ‘em back to the trailers. Takes about two hours to find ‘em all and herd ‘em home. I have no idea why we do this. I used to think maybe we was all looking for cattle, but we never do, and even if we pass where they’ve been, we keep on going. But I get to trot and lope across the open desert with my friend Mr. Blondie and some others, so it’s all OK. It’s kind of a fun game, lookin’ for dogs. It may look like I’m yawnin’, but I was really laughin’. But we were a fine lookin’ group of yellow horses that day.
Although sometimes when we lose the dogs, we gotta backtrack. Nobody ever listens to me when I tell them I know where they went. Sometimes they think it’s funny to add thought bubbles to my editiorializin’. No respect…
But sometimes I do get to work cattle, but not real, purposeful work like I used to do. These is stupid human cow games. There’s “team sorting” and “team penning” too.
And this is my most favorite part of bein’ a pleasure horse. I keep tryin’ to tell ‘em I’m retired, and sometimes you just gotta draw ’em a picture.