Let me start this by askin y’all a question: When’s a horse not a horse?
I know you’re thinkin ol’ Whiskey’s likely lost what’s left of his mind, askin dumb questions and wonderin idle thoughts like some kinda County Island pointless pampered pet pleasure horse. But it’s a real question, and it’s got a real answer, as I learned one day when I observed some of the men-folk around here, from within the safety of my own little home-corral here with Original Coors and Coors Light.
So, the man across the road has got horses of his own. And he rides ‘em and such. But most early mornins on the days that the County Island folks don’t go off to their “jobs,” us horses see him toss some breakfast hay at his own horses in kind of a hurry, then he brings out one of the rumbly-machines that a lot of the menfolk see to have.
That’s another crazy thing I been keepin track of ever since I came to the County Island. The womenfolk have got horses, but the menfolk have got rumbly-machines. Our own bucket gal’s carrot guy’s got a rumbly-machine, and I swear sometimes, it can feel like he’s downright affectionate to it instead of me. I don’t understand it. On the ranch, everybody rode us horses, and the only things that rumbled were the purposeful machines, with jobs of their own to do, such as rumbly-quads and rumbly-trucks, and us horses mostly had more cowboys than cowgirls. But, like most things, and especially most things around the County Island, it don’t pay for a horse to dwell for long on stuff that don’t involve him.
But on this particular mornin, the man across the road brought a rumbly-machine out from the rumbly-thing barn, the kind with only two rolly hoof-tires? Called a “motor”-somethin? Rumbly-somethin-“bike”? Anyhow.
I thought it seemed funny, and frankly what do I know, but he kinda proceeded to shower it off with a hose, and then he… sweat-scraped it? And rubbed it down with like a rub rag? He even inspected its hoof-tires. It didn’t seem right to me, groomin a rumbly-machine like it was one of us.
And as it stood in front of his ranch makin its kinda bothersome nonsense rumbly sounds, another fella, who was bein walked by two small dogs, stopped and yelled above the rumblin, “She’s a beauty!”
I kinda cocked my head sideways so I could make my own appraisal … How could he tell it was a she?
An entire conversation ensued about “her.” I couldn’t help but hear, as they talked real loud above the rumble sounds. I don’t know why they didn’t make it shush so they could talk.
“She” was an iron horse, they said. I knew right then that they was delusional. A rumbly-machine ain’t a horse! And then they said somethin about her bein a brand-new HOG too! What the…?? Don’t County Island folk know the painful-obvious differences between a horse and a hog? Obviously not, since they also seemed to think a rumbly-bike could be both a horse and hog, too. I thought to myself, well, shut the barn door! I couldn’t pull myself away from my place by the fence rail.
And then I noticed — the man who lived across the road had chaps on over his people-jeans. And the rumbly-bike was wearin… saddle bags? With proper western saddle conchos on ‘em? If he was fixed to saddle up for a ride, why wouldn’t he take a normal horse?
And then, while he was singin her praises to the other fella — I swear this is true on my own dam’s good reputation — he PATTED her. I mean it. And he kinda stroked her — I mean, its, dammit — neck.
That’s when I knew there was no point in neither watchin nor hearin no more. The best thing a horse can do when he’s confronted by the crazy is to back slowly away from it. I learned that from dealin with the bull back at the ranch. But I reckon it explains a lot about the County Island.