Saturday, February 23, 2008
A Boy and His Pony
It is about time I came clean with all my faithful readers. When I was a kid, I had a pony (pictured above). We were not rich or anything like that, but we lived on a ranch, and one day my Uncle showed up pulling a stock trailer. I ran out to greet him, but instead of receiving the normal greeting from him, he just smiled, walked around and opened the door on the stock trailer. There inside was the most beautiful pony you ever saw. He gave it to my bother and me. Now I don't want to make to big of a deal about it, but I must say that as a kid, having a pony is just about as good as it gets. The horse was a Shetland pony, and was about the size of a big dog. We named her Wendy. She was such a nice little horse, and a very sociable creature. We did not have a saddle, but we did have a bridle and a small horse blanket, so we would ride her bareback, Indian style. She loved to be rode, and I can remember trotting around the yard on her back. Every day she would come to our yard and make little horse noises, wanting us to come out and play with her. She loved sugar cubes and carrots. We would always bring her a treat, and then she would rub her head on us. She loved to be combed, and loved to take us for a ride.
Now I remember one day our parents went to town, and left my brother and I at home. I was about 7 years old, and he was about 11. Back then, you did not bother with baby sitters, you just assumed that the kids would just take care of themselves. Well, my brother and I were sitting on the front porch, and up comes Wendy. She walked right up on the front porch, and gave us a little nudge, like she always did. We petted her a while, and then we noticed that she kept looking in the front window into the house. My brother and I started talking about it, and we decided that she wanted to go into the house. Well, you don't do something like let a horse in the house without giving it some serious thought. We talked about it a while, and we came to the conclusion that neither of us had ever been told not to let the horse in the house. She was a pet, and the dog was a pet, and the dog was allowed in the house, so it must be OK to let the horse in the house. So after some more discussion, we decided we would let her in the house, but only if she really wanted to go in. My brother walked over to the front door and opened it. Sure enough she walked right in.
I will never forget the look on her face as she went into the house. It was a look of wonder and amazement. She had never seen anything like it before. She walked around the living room, being so careful not to bump or disturb anything. It is not every day that a horse gets to go into the house. She appeared to fully grasp the magnitude of the honor. She walked around and looked at every piece of furniture. My brother and I were feeling pretty good . . . we had done a really good thing, giving her a tour of the house. Well, she pretty much looked at everything in the living room, and things had gone so well, we decided to take her into the kitchen. Now being 7 and 11 years old, my brother and I did not have a good grasp of things like the coefficient of static friction, and traction control and all of that, so we had no way of anticipating what would happen next. As Wendy stepped into the kitchen, her hoofs had no traction on the freshly waxed linoleum floor. As she stepped into the kitchen, she lost all traction, and her four legs went out in four different directions, and she landed on her belly. This was something like she had never had happen before, and well, she panicked. She tried to get up, but lost her footing again, worse than the first time. At this point she went totally wild. She just started kicking and flailing around the kitchen. Well, as much as I respect the designers at Frigidaire, GE, and all the furniture companies, apparently in designing their products, they did not consider the possibility of a horse going crazy in the kitchen, and did not design their products to withstand the stresses introduced by such an event. I mean the horse was kicking, bucking, jumping, falling, and in the process totally wrecking the kitchen. The furniture was destroyed, the major appliances were damaged, and I wont even talk about the smaller appliances. Now I am going to have to apologize for telling the next part of the story. I am not trying to be vulgar or anything, but I just have to tell it to you like it happened. I guess the trauma of the situation caused some type of intestinal distress for the poor horse, and she started pooping and peeing. Now I am not talking about the normal thing you would expect of a horse taking care of a little business. I am talking about full scale projectile pooping. I mean she was firing poop across the kitchen like something I had never seen before. Also, the pee made the floor even slicker, and she lost any small amount of traction she might have had as she tried desperately to regain her footing. My brother and I just stood there pretty much in shock, as the horse destroyed the kitchen. Anything she did not wreck, she pooped on. Some items were both wrecked and pooped on. While we considered ourselves pretty proficient horse people, we had never been trained on how to deal with a horse gone crazy in the kitchen. Well, she finally was able to flail her way over to the more firm footing of the living room. My brother and I both panicked, as we could see she was still in a state of high anxiety and we imagined the same thing happening to the living room that had just happened to the kitchen. Now my brother was thinking pretty good, so he ran to the front door, and held it wide open. Wendy saw the sky and ran for it, and ran straight through the living room and out the front door, doing relatively little damage on her way through. The living room came out relatively unscathed, compared to the kitchen.
My brother and I then just sort of stood there and stared at the kitchen. We then both began to get a sinking feeling as we heard my parent's little green Volkswagen driving up. We had no time to even attempt to improve the disaster area formerly known as our kitchen. We had no time to even prepare an adequate defense, or seek professional councel. My Dad walked in and said, "What happened Here!". I don't know if he was asking because he really did not know what had happened, or if he was asking more of a rhetorical question. Given the amount of horse poop on the walls, and the hoof prints on the refrigerator, I think he probably knew what had happened, and it was in fact a rhetorical question . . . but I digress. Anyway, I tried to go into damage control mode and describe it as benignly as possible . . . "Wendy slipped and fell in the kitchen, and then got scared." My dad preferred to focus on the aspect of the situation that we had let a horse in the house. Try as I might, I could not get him to consider the broader complexity and subtleties of the situation. To him, it was simply a matter that we had let a horse in the house and the horse had destroyed the kitchen. I should say at this point that my parents were not well versed in some of the more modern theories of rearing children. Things like the importance of taking opportunities like this to try and build up your children's self esteem, or the fragile nature of a child's self image, or the importance of never raising your voice at a child . . . none of these things were understood by my parents, or at least, they did not appear to be manifesting themselves in this particular circumstance. No, it was pretty clear how they would handle the situation, we were going to get a whipping. Not what you might call a spanking today, like a little swat on the bottom or anything like that. No, we got a good old-fashioned, whipping with a belt. Now, as an adult, I really can not say that the whipping damaged my self esteem, or led me to be a criminal, or that I am harboring any deep seated problems because of that day. I can say one thing for sure though: from that day forward I never brought a horse, or for that matter any other farm animal, into the house. I should also say that I remember that evening my dad made us popcorn in what was left of the kitchen, we sat in his lap and he read a book to us. He never brought up the subject again. We were punished, the issue was put behind us, and we moved on as a happy family, and the horse stayed outside.