Tuning Up the Translator

Shaun is hunting through receipts, looking for the one on which we bought Micah’s video game.  The game doesn’t work.  Reach, scan, put down….reach, scan…pause.

Jane, sensing the pause: “Did you find it?”

Shaun, shoving glasses down her nose: “Bleach?  Why did you buy bleach?”

This is not spending surveillance.  I’m allergic to bleach.  Bleach on our household receipt sticks out like a raw steak in a vegan household.

I shove the milk into the fridge, reach for the eggs, and say, “It’s for Hudson.”  Didn’t I buy hamburger?  Please don’t tell me I bought only chicken again.  I rummage in the bag.

HA.  Hamburger.  I hold it like an Oscar.   Trust me, it’s a  major achievement that I came home with something besides chicken.

Shaun is still staring at the receipt.  I am suddenly aware that we’ve crossed the cultural divide between horsey and non-horsey.  She’s sitting there wondering why Hudson needs bleach.  I can see the thought bubble over her head: laundry? No.  Of course not, horses don’t have laundry…

Um.  We’ll break it to her later, that horses have laundry.   Shaun believes in inside dirt and outside dirt.  Outside dirt doesn’t go into our washing machine. I may be a teensy bit guilty of letting her think I wash my riding clothes separately, then scrub out the washer.

Um.  We’re going to have to break her in a little at a time.  She doesn’t need to know about saddle pads, blankets, polos, etc.


Jane:  “He’s got thrush.  I mixed up a solution to kill it.”  For the horsey, this is basic, no big deal, throw away conversation.

For the person who is horse-clueless, this is MAYDAY.

“I bought a SICK HORSE?”, Shaun says, panic creeping into her voice.  The dollar signs representing vet bills start rolling up in her eyes like a cartoon character’s.  “HE’S sick ALREADY?!?”

Great.  I handled that well.  I have to head this off before she works herself into a (completely needless) panic over Hudson’s imminent death from thrush.

“Bella wouldn’t do that, right?” she says, trying to calm herself down, “No, she wouldn’t sell me a sick horse…right, honey?”

I grab her by the shoulders, forcing her to look into my eyes.  “No, she wouldn’t.  I’m sorry honey, I didn’t say that well.”  I pause.  “Listen to me, okay?”  I have to scramble for my horse to non-horse translator book.  She’s fraying around the edges.

“Honey, stay with me here.  Hudson has…athlete’s foot.

“Athlete’s foot”, Shaun repeats, without comprehending.

“Yeah”, I say.  “The itchy stuff between your toes,  it’s no big deal.”  I reach for an understandable explanation:  “Bleach is…cheaper…than a tiny tube of athlete’s foot medication, and it works well on horses.”  She doesn’t need to know the dilution ratio, or about scrubbing with antibacterial dish soap first.

“Oh.” says Shaun, brightening.  “Okay.  It’s just athlete’s foot, for real?”

“For real”, I say.  “There’s no way Bella could have known….”, I mistakenly descend into gibberish again, “…He had a false sole that peeled off and there was thrush underneath.”

Shaun’s eyes regain their pre-panic glaze.  “False sole?”

Mayday, Mayday. I repeat, “Athlete’s foot” in firm and soothing tones.

Wait until we get to worming rotations.

Note to self: leave out any phrasing involving parasite loads.

11 thoughts on “Tuning Up the Translator

  1. Damn.
    I was hoping that no news was good news. The number of times I’ve checked back, and the sickness in the pit of my stomach for a total stranger’s vigil is a measure of how strong the bond is between horse and human partner. I’ve had plenty of bad news about my guy’s health and soundness (nothing compared to this), but can’t imagine how much this wait hurts.
    I’m not much of a pray-er, but will be sending up some special ones in this case.

    1. It is so appreciated, you have no idea. Whether it’s prayer, good thoughts, or well wishes, to me, it’s all the same. Thank you! I’m hanging on, trying to put my feelings in a box. Lily is always teasing that we “co-parent” Tiny. He’s been part of my daily life for ten years. He’s a beautiful soul, so expressive, and engaging.

      He’s already the favorite patient at Davis. They can do nearly anything to him without sedation, and he hugs them all. Tiny hugs are very sweet. If you’re standing next to him, he reaches around and “holds” you in the space between his head/neck and body. If you are in front of him, he puts his head over your shoulder, rests it and gently draws you closer. He loves a good joke, but most of his mind is engaged in affection and treat hunting. 🙂

    1. It’s not good, I’m afraid. The second ultra sound yesterday showed lesions on his spleen. Lily (and all of us who love them both) is waiting for the biopsy results to see if it’s cancer: she’s there now.

      There’s a slim chance the lesions were caused by an infectious agent, but it’s unlikely. We’re praying for a miracle. Yesterday was a difficult day: it was 110 in Davis, and Tiny can’t take heat. He slept with his head on the fan. So Tiny.

  2. I think we need to post an equine-to-english dictionary online. Oh, and then we need to post an equine-to-american dictionary as well, to cope with words like “rug” (aka “blanket”).

    1. I have one started! Thank goodness you said something. The Spouse-tionary is down, I’ll have to fiddle with the pages and see if I can get it up and running again. (tab on top bar) All contributions welcome and credited!

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