Of all the idiot-syncracies (I think I made that word right) I’ve observed among the County Island’s pleasure horses, prancified horses, and pet horses, and their people, too, the one that most strikes my ol’ funny bone is the notion of not wantin to work when the weather turns foul. And by foul I mean when it’s too hot, or too cold, or too dusty, or too muddy, or too windy, or too still, or too dry, or too humid, or too early, or too late, or, or, and or some more. It’s a miracle County Island horses get ridden at all. And you know well as I do, they don’t hardly ever get worked when they’re ridden.
One of the worst and most constant complaints I overhear regards the wind. The wind makes things blow around, the people say. Well, of course it does. That’s why it’s called wind, ain’t it? And when things blow around, it spooks the horses. Well, no it don’t. Not the good horses, anyway. And I reckon most of the horses that do leap and snort around in the wind are doin so either in response to their people’s edginess about it, or as a bonafide excuse, almost bonafide permission, to leap and snort around. I got no respect for the first kind, but the second kind is kinda cool if a horse can pull it off with a straight face. Hey, we got to have our fun where we can, you know what I’m sayin? Not that I would ever recommend a horse to be disobedient, mind you, but when your rider gives you an honest openin, well, sometimes maybe a horse might like to take it. Ain’t nothin wrong with the occasional wahoo! on a windy day, from a otherwise honest horse, as long as he’s still willin to work in the wind and not take advantage all the time. A horse has got to mind his reputation, after all.
Which reminds me. I don’t think people hear real good, in general, on account of their lack of proper ears. And I think they hear even less when the wind is whippin. They also got tiny little nostrils, which makes me think they can’t smell for shit, neither, pardon my french. But I digress about the nose holes. What they should do in a situation such as a squall is trust those of us who got big ol’ horse ears.
Once, when I was out ridin to the hounds, runnin after beagle dogs runnin after jackrabbits in the desert, which I don’t do no more on account of my bad hocks, it was a right gusty day, and a typical thing happened to our riders. They lost sight of the pack and much as they strained their sad, tiny little people ears, they couldn’t hear any woofin for the wind. They seem to lose the pack a lot like that. But instead of lettin us horses listen for the bayin beagles in the far distant field, and instead of lettin us actually inhale the wind with our proper wide horse nostrils so we could scent where the beagle dogs had been, our riders, includin, of course, my own dear bucket gal, and I say dear with affection, mind you, set to guessin. They probably went this way… well now, maybe they went that way… Maybe we should canter up to that far, distant ridge and see if we can spot ‘em from there… And I was thinkin, that hill would take a whole lot of canterin to reach, and I’m game for it, but not if we’re gonna keep up the canterin and the guessin all danged mornin.
So, we cantered and we cantered, to the top of the ridge. And we stood there, waitin for I don’t know what. I heard them beagle dogs to the southeast, right off. I trained my ears straight in that direction in order to tell my bucket gal I knew where the dogs went. A ranch horse gets his sense of direction early on in his life. There’s north, south, east, west, and combinations thereof. Of course, the best direction of ‘em all is home. And when we were atop the ridge and the wind tickled my nostrils, I caught scent of the dogs, too, so I let my breath out real loud, to say that yep, I clearly smelled dog over yonder to the southeast. But the bucket gal just patted me and said somethin to her friends about me needin to catch my breath? ‘Cause I’m older? Y’know, sometimes, a horse can only try so hard, like with the bucket bunny and missin spoon situation we once had. I looked at the other horses, and they looked at me, and then we all let out what amounted to a collective horse sigh.
We picked our way through the rocks down the ridge at a walk, and promptly our riders trotted us off – in the opposite direction from the dogs. Oh, we went on that way for quite a while. We went in every direction save for the right one. To the south, our journey involved crossin a downed barbed-wire fence and a whole lotta discussion about the way to get around the wire safely without catchin our hooves. To the north, it involved some rumbly-dirt bikers. To the northwest, it involved a herd of no-good, free-rangin horses followin us – and I’ll tell more about them sometime – and I think maybe it also involved a whole lot of grumpy, tired horses that don’t get no respect. Or maybe that was only me.
Eventually, a desert mirage appeared before us all. A mirage that arose from the southeast, if you can believe it. And you likely can. There they were, all the beagle dogs, or, well, most of ‘em, ‘cause there’s always one or two strays that got to be fetched back home later, bein herded toward us by the remainder of the horses and riders, which are called the first field for reasons unknown to this horse. The beagle dogs’ long ears were flappin in the wind as they ran.
Beagle dogs do have fine ears, I’ll give ‘em that. And now I do believe I’m winded, so I’ll wind this right down.