Phixing Phil

I’m sure “Hudson-Caused PTSD” is a valid diagnosis that can be found in the DSM-5 , the go-to book for all psychiatrists. Hey. I wonder if the DSM-5 comes in a “For Dummies” version? For the psychiatrist who can’t understand Shrink-Speak either?

The wacky guy on all the “Dummies” covers is kind of the perfect promotional tool for making  psychiatry accessible.

Please hold while I Google irrelevant but now imperative question. And…no DSM-5 For Dummies.

But I did find this:

Do we laugh? Or are we very very afraid?

Well. That’s settled.

Back to Hudson-Caused PTSD. Being a good friend, I texted Bella to let her know I accidentally broke Phil. And I had every intention of superglue-ing him back together again:

Thanks for letting me ride Phil. He was great. FYI: He’s  afraid of hay now. Sorry! There’s 10 lbs of carrots in your garage if he gets hungry?  Will fix. Promise.

That night I lay awake in the dark, staring at the ceiling, trying to think through some sort of Phix Phil Plan. There was one imperative, non-negotiable variable that revolved around Hudson: He can’t know anything about whatever phix I phigure out.

Plan A is an exercise in Magical Thinking.  Still, it was fun to visualize before I crossed it off:

Plan A: Yell at Hudson. Make him apologize to Phil and take it back.

Nope. Don’t see this happening.

Plan B: Outsmart Hudson into taking it back

I’m kind of into Plan B. I like to imagine I am at least as intelligent as my horse.

Tricky. Hudson obviously outsmarted me on the “Let’s Make Phil Deathly Afraid of Hay” thing.

How can I make Hudson show Phil  the hay barn is horse manna? I plot. I pretend I’m Hudson. Ah-ha. Got it.  Though I see a potential problem. However, it’s a problem that Hudson has brought upon himself… It wouldn’t affect Phil… This could work.

Just before the dinner cart makes its rounds, I tack up a hungry Hudson…and active the Phix Phil Plan.  (Code-named, because all tricky plans need code names): Gotcha. There are three phases.

Phase One: flattery. I tack Hudson up first, spending lots of time getting ready. When he feels good and important, I ask him if he’d rather walk alone, or pony Phil.

Hudson: I believe I’d like to boss pony Phil around today.

Jane: Whatever. I’ll get him.

Phase Two: temptation: Before getting Hudson, I opened the hay barn doors and angled an open bale of alfalfa so it was barely sticking out into the road. I also did a scariness check: nothing spooky.  Bonus: there’s a trash can full of baling twine, that Hudson will believe might contain grain.

Phase Three: deceit. (You were already with me at hay-happens-to-be-in-the-road, huh?

I mount up, pick up Phil from the tie-post. We make one round of the access road, including passing the hay barn. Hudson ignores it nearly completely. His nostrils widen at the scent of alfalfa. I pointedly angle my body toward the road, away from the barn.  His ears signal minor disappointment. Phil snuck past the hay barn, and is flooded with relief when it didn’t jump him. Hudson has better things to think about than Phil.  Food.

On to round two.

We pass closer to the hay. I abruptly angle away, as if I’ve made a grievous riding error.

Hudson buys this.  Completely. Well, geeze. He could at least FAKE astonishment at my terrible riding.

Round three. Hudson wanders through his shoulder toward the hay barn. I sigh as though giving up. He gleefully buries his head in the alfalfa.

Seriously? She’s that out of it? LUCKY DAY!!!

Phil jumps out of his skin, and has to be coaxed to stay with us.

Hudson said this was BAD. Very very Bad. I do not understand why he’s happy.

We do this several hundred more times, with Hudson drooling in anticipation, and Phil trying to find a way out of the crisis:

Can I just wait over there…?.

FINALLY, Phil takes a bite. I have an excellent grip on the reins, to keep Hudson from warning him off.

Oh. This is FOOD? CRAP! Did you hear the noise it made when I tore a bite off?  It was like a rifle shot!  Can food shoot?  (chew chew chew) Hudson seems fineI’m brave.  I think I can handle this…

Mmmmm…this serial killer tastes goooood…

Ha. I tricked Hudson into giving the message: “Hay Barn Good. Nom nom nom.” Message received.  I rode Phil  – alone – past the hay barn. He wouldn’t go up to eat, but he didn’t shrink away from it either. Phew.

I text Bella: We’re good. Phil is fixed. You can ride him past the hay barn again.  

Can you guess what problem I created in this trade-off of trickery?

Hudson now believes it’s perfectly acceptable to attempt to trot to the hay barn for food, with every rotation of the access road.  Because I subtly encouraged his glee and ‘misbehavior’.

The next day I was able to call “one-time freebie!” to Hudson, and he accepted that answer.

I sure hope he doesn’t spend time thinking over the “free hay day”. If he figures out I tricked him, it’s cement horse shoes for me…

14 thoughts on “Phixing Phil

  1. Heh. This reminds me of the first time I took Ro on a trail ride. She was a superstar… until she saw a hay bale by the trail. Then she lost it. In the forest, hay eats horses. Apparently.

    Good luck with Phil. And Hudson. And Phil-and-Hudson. I think you’re going to need it…

  2. Sometimes I wonder if I am indeed smarter than my horses. I know I can’t outsmart my psychotic brain, I’ve given up on that. I think I am going to take your approach of trickery. Or just hire you. Yeah, that sounds easier. So… do you feel about North Carolina? We have velvet cake!!

    1. Velvet cake…? (I bet if you left a slice partly in the road, you wouldn’t have to pay me at all.) I’m kind of convinced Hudson is smarter than I am. I can only hope, when he figures out what happened, that he’ll laugh. Fine. We all know that’s not going to happen. He’ll up his brain power, and figure out new ways to outsmart me. 😉

    1. I often feel I shouldn’t have to trick a horse…the whole honesty-is-the-best-policy thing. Trust building and all. Reality, though? The kindest way through (for Phil) was to make another horse tell him his nerves were unfounded. It doesn’t hurt for him to learn, either, that Hudson is not a God, and can be big-brother annoying. (The other reality? I LOVED that I could outsmart my horse. Finally!) 🙂

  3. This gets funnier with every installment. Hudson is undoubtedly now plotting to terrify Phil regarding the feed room, so he cannot be taken in or out of the barn. Danger, Jane Robinson!

  4. Jane: you’re just so darn Phunny. Love your stuph. And screw Sychology. Keep pushing, your stuff is so good. >bow< Just keep lovin' these equines. Easy for you, eh?

    1. Glad I could communicate the humor (however dire) of the situation. There’s a whole section in my brain that I’ve designated as my Horse Situation Room, in which I can hopefully out think my own bad ideas (difficult, they sound so dang *reasonable*) Hudson’s pranks, and whatever barn horses throw at me. Sadly, there’s usually a sign on the room’s door that reads “napping. Do not disturb.”, and I believe myself.

  5. It’s good to know one can still outsmart one’s horse, especially a horse like Hudson.

    We have one like this too, Oberon. Lately he decided that Horse Trailers Eat Horses and refused to get in the same trailer that he’s been self-loading in for a year. We left him out in the cold, driving rain one night, then fixed his breakfast in the trailer. He about mowed my husband over in his haste to get in the trailer.

    *Dusts hands off* Problem. Solved.

    1. I had a worse one — with a worse trauma. Idjit horse with good potential in trail horse classes, until one cloudy day when he was doing an excellent job of toting me and a bucket, efficiently picked up from a barrel with an A-rated demonstration of side passing — and lightning struck the transformer by the arena. OMG– Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! Who knew! BUCKETS CAUSE LIGHTNING and THUNDER! We owned that horse 2 more years, and not only could you not carry any bucket while riding him, but he would neither eat nor drink from a bucket of the horrible, electricity-inducing green color. Guess what color all my buckets were? Yes, I tried the “green or nothing” method, and the “hang green buckets all over the stall method” — but he was clearly willing to suffer starvation or thirst to avoid having a nearby lightning strike. Sigh. Phil seems to have a better brain that this particular beast …

      1. Wow! Now that is a tangled problem, to have a horse with a legitimate reason to be terrorized. Lightening Buckets! That would make feeding, bathing, watering….problematic :(. You did a great job against a natural force of nature fear!

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