When Wishes Were Horses

Honestly, it’s almost like he named himself.machoMy father’s horse, named Macho (Spanish slang for arrogant, extra strength, manly man), wasn’t very tall, but he was sturdy, and built like a dump truck.  He was also quite beautiful; chestnut brown with black socks on all four feet.  His mane was black, thick and stood straight up.

But it was his personality that made him a true original.stallionThe general consensus around the base’s ranch, Lazy R, was that he’d been badly gelded.  So badly that it never even occurred to him that he was, in fact, a gelding.

In his happy little world, he was Thunderhead, Flicka’s proud, untamed stallion son, with the run of the entire west, dominion over his hand-picked harem of mares, and the worship of everybody else.pastureExcept in the case of hurricanes, the horses were always pastured at Lazy R.  When we went to the ranch, we’d grab some halters and leads, then go out into the pasture and bring out our horses.

They were usually happy to see us.  They’d get oats and some treats in the form of carrots or sugar cubes. They’d get groomed and pampered by their people. girl and horseMacho and I were friends.  I adored him, and that half-stallion was firmly convinced that all the attention and affection I gave him was absolutely his due.  One night he actually fell asleep with his head on my shoulder as I rubbed his neck and spoke quietly to him.

So, I had no qualms about going into the pasture and bringing all three of our horses out.

Until one day.leading horseUsually, as I approached our horses and called to them, they’d walk up and stand patiently while I hooked them into their halters.  Then we’d go on to the next horse and repeat until I had all three and we walked out of the pasture to the corral for food and grooming. Like I said, usually.macho and maresMacho was the first horse I got to that day.  He was surrounded by his mares, and looking like he was feeling especially stallion-y.  Really keyed up and full of himself.  Ominously, he didn’t approach me, but backed up a few steps.

I spoke to him in a cajoling yet exasperated way.  He backed up a little more.

I started walking to him, and then, looking me square in the eye, began coming toward me.  Then he sped up to a fast walk.  Then a slow trot, which got faster with each step.  Soon he was coming at me at a slow gallop.demon horseHorses will not run over a human.  It may look like they’re going to, but they will veer off at the last second.  So, I stood still waiting for him to run past, then I’d hook him up, and go after the next one.

There is one exception to the no-running-over thing.  The rule doesn’t apply to badly gelded buttheads who want to be left alone to hang out with their girlfriends and have no desire to be pushed around by an eleven-year-old kid.hell horseHe knocked me down, ran over my prone body, stepped right on that hollow where the collar bone meets the shoulder, and got in one last insult when a hoof flipped up and smacked me right on top of my skull (there is still a horse hoof-shaped indentation on my melon).  He then turned around and calmly walked back over to his pasture groupies. happy horsesIt was weeks before I went into the pasture by myself.

So, if you’ve ever wondered, Gentle Reader, what precisely, is wrong with me, here’s the answer: being hit on the head with a horse changes a person.village idiotThanks for your time.

Horsin’ Around

Macho was the first.He wasn’t tall, but was as solid as a Sherman tank.  He had very large ears and a Roman nose, which meant his profile was convex; with an outward curve.  He was the color of warm maple syrup with mahogany mane and tail.

He was a chungo; a Puerto Rican colloquial term for a horse of indeterminate lineage.

He was badly gelded.  So badly that it never even occurred to him that he was, in fact, a gelding.This fact was brought home to me with a bang and a crunch one day when I was fetching him from the pasture where he lived with his horsey harem.  He didn’t want to go.

He really, really, didn’t want to go.  I was convinced of this about the same time he knocked me down and stepped on my shoulder.  Or it may have been when he ran over my prone body and one of his hooves struck me on the top of my skull. I’m very lucky that he didn’t wear shoes, but even so I probably should have been under concussion protocol.  I definitely would have been, if I’d told my parents exactly what happened that day.  As far as they knew, Macho was cranky, bumped into me, and knocked me on my keister.

I still have a horse hoof shaped dent in the top of my skull.

Because Macho was temperamental and something of a “handful”, he became my dad’s mount.  My folks then bought Juanita, for my brother and I to share.  She was a bit taller than Macho and black-speckled white with gray mane and tail. Juanita looked like she was half asleep half of the time.   The other half she looked like she was stuffed for display.

But underneath that semi-comatose exterior, Juanita had two secrets.

First secret: when she wanted, she was capable of an equine explosion of speed.  That mare went from drowsy to sixty in the blink of an eye.  But she had to want.

The other secret was a mile-wide mean streak.One afternoon she and I were taking a ride in an unused pasture.  On the return leg of the trip, she decided to turn on the gas.  We were a streak of lightening.  It was one of the most exultant experiences of my young life.

As we came close to the open gate of the pasture, I attempted to slow the horsey locomotive that Juanita had become.  Slowing held no appeal for her, but she had a plan.  Upon exiting the pasture at a very high rate of speed, Juanita suddenly swerved.

Rider-less, she would have just missed scrubbing her side against a thick post at the pasture opening.But of course, she wasn’t rider-less.

It hurt when Macho mugged me.  And in kindergarten a brick had fallen on my head (yeah, I know; insert joke here).  So, I thought I knew pain.

Um, no.  I knew not the nature of true pain.  It hurt so badly I kind of hoped my leg would fall off.  I saw stars and looked into the pain abyss.  And from that abyss, pain stared right back at me, unblinking.How I didn’t break any bones remains a mystery.  But all I was left with were bruises and a healthy dislike for one particular sleepy-looking mare.  I’d loved horses my entire life, and it seemed I would never have a bond with a horse of my own; maybe there was something wrong with me, and horses just didn’t like me.

But then I met Coqui.To be continued…

Thanks for your time.