Bein old and bein young has got a lot in common when you’re a horse.
For instance, when you’re three and ya do somethin’ good, the people say AWW GOOD BOY to let ya know you’re special.
And when you’re 30, they say the same thing – AWW GOOD BOY – if ya do any damn thing at all.
Ya eat all your dinner – AWW GOOD BOY. Ya walk around the trail for a borin slow ride – AWW GOOD BOY. Ya stand for picture-takin with a sparkly birthday “30” crown upon your head – AWW GOOD BOY. Ya stand up on your own hooves after lyin down for a nap – AWW GOOD BOY.
There ain’t nothin special about bein special.
The older and wiser I get, the more I know it to be true deep down inside my own time-worn bones – how much alike bein three and bein 30 is.
I’m pretty sure the bucket gal knows I know how to step over and through all manner of things by now, on account of we’ve done it together enough. But lately she don’t act like she remembers any of it.
Could she be gettin old and forgetful?
There was once a time when I leaped across a bonafide oxer fence all by myself, and as tall as myself, with the bucket gal, carrot guy and other witnesses watchin. I walked right up to it when I was turned loose in the jumpin arena, and gave it a thought. Seemed like a fun thing to do. My hocks set down upon the ground to launch me up and over that oxer from a standstill so I could fly. I suppose that’s why I thought they was called hawks before, on account of the flyin.
When me and the bucket gal chased all them bad beagle-dogs across the range in search of jackrabbits all those times, with the hunt club that never hunted nothin nor fired a gun, I jumped across more arroyos than I can count. We jumped ditches and banks and downed trees and cactus. We crossed deep muddy washes and sandy slip-slidin spots too. I was sure-footed to pick my way across and through and up and down any kinda terrain in any weather.
I surely got to be led by the halter-rope at a easy walk, back and forth across two tiny flat poles on the ground inside the prancin arena, like a greenhorn baby that don’t yet know it’s got four feet much less where they all are.
It’s harder than it ought to be.
It’s harder than I ever recall it bein, in fact, even when I was three.
My old, bad hocks don’t like to bend no more. For most of my days they been real good and useful hawks. They started goin bad before I came to live upon the County Island, now that I care to think on it. Then they went real bad, and I learned all about hawk jail. When ya get released from jail, of course a horse is gonna feel better and it ain’t got a think to do with vet ladies and their diabolical ways of pokin stuff into horses. They’re unrelated. I never knew hawks could also go from bad to worse, but mine have gone and done it.
Even when they’re worse, though, I still try. A horse has always got to try. It’s the right thing to do, and also the only practical thing. Young horses waste a lot of their good hawks on impractical things that get a horse in trouble one way or the other. There’s nothin special nor good about that.
The trouble is, when I want to go, often my hawks do not. And they have the power to make that decision for me, seems like.
And so I get led around over poles upon the ground. It ain’t so bad. But sometimes my hawks don’t even want to do that much. You keep puttin one hoof down in front of the other, and ya do it with a hitch in your get-along if ya got to. And ya do it even when it also feels dumb and pointless. Maybe ya wish the bucket gal would raise ‘em a little bit so ya could at least hop over and have some fun, and then ya think, no, never mind.
The bucket gal has promised me of late that she’ll do everythin in her power to keep my hocks from hurtin, and she won’t let me hurt bad. And I did believe her –
Until, after such a deep and meaningful promise, she went and summoned the sweet-talkin but evil vet lady again, who never has made me feel better except when she leaves. The bucket gal directed her to poke me in the neck two times and also directed her to demonstrate how to stick sharp things into me herself, even when the vet lady ain’t even there! I don’t remember what occurred after that, ‘cause they knocked me out cold.
What kinda promise is “I won’t hurt ya/here’s the vet come to hurt ya?” And oh, by the way, “I am now fully trained to stick needles into ya myself, and maybe I’ll do so whenever I feel like it and with no warnin to a sensible horse?”
No wonder so many County Island horses got trust issues.
Now, of course, I do feel better. Any horse would. As usual, it ain’t got nothin to do with things bein stuck into me by neither vet-ladies nor bucket gals.
I can only smartly conclude the bucket gal’s goin senile, with all her strange behaviors.
I did not get to be 30 by bein a stupid horse.