Name the Buckskin!

Hi. I am The Horse Wtih No Name. No, I have not been ridden over the desert. Please do not call me "Buck".
Hi. I am The Horse With No Name. No, I have not been ridden in the desert, and I don’t mind being out in the rain. And I can remember my name, if I had one. A little help please…? p.s. I hate “Neil”.

First order of business:

We need a name for the above buckskin.  What should we call The Hunk who also happens to be a knock out? Suggestions?

We knew you’d help.

Second order of business:

Catching up with Bella:

As you know, Phil went home after the trial period.  Hudson had nothing to do with this (If I keep repeating this statement, it might be true?), other than pointing out Phil might be a tad timid for a rope horse.

Bella has shopped for months, while practicing on the spare rope horses that belong to friends.  Somehow, she STILL managed to make it into the national team roping finals.  Without owning a horse, or even roping off the same horse. For us wanna-be dressage queens, that’s a feat equivalent with catch-riding a bunch of different level dressage horses, and qualifying to ride in a National-Level Grand Prix.

She found her horse two weeks before Nationals.  The above buckskin with no name.

Bella is a competitor. With a capital C.

Oh, I'm just a normal cowgirl. Kinda made it to high point call back.  It was fun.
Oh, I’m just a normal cowgirl. Made it to the finals run in Nationals on a horse I barely know. Had a good time.

I asked Bella if there was a live feed, so I could watch the roping.  She said she’d text me her competition numbers, but timing was inexact, since they run one hundred teams an hour.

Pause while Jane tries to process that statement.

“Um. How many teams ARE there?”, I ask.

“Twelve hundred or so, I think, was the last count?”, Bella replies.

Or twelve hours straight of roping. For three days.

2,400 horses and riders? Holy crap! I try to picture this.  Fail. Turn the image into sprinkles on a cake. Much better. Now I can visualize the odds.

Strangely, the odds make me hungry.

Focus, Jane, FOCUS.

She’s doing this on a horse she’s known less than 10 days?

Carlos, Bella’s boyfriend and my adopted brother, texted me the above photo on the last night of competition:

Carlos: “high point entry”

I immediately texted back.

Jane: “Thanks. What does that MEAN?”

Carlos: “finals”

Jane: “Thanks. What does THAT mean?”

Carlos: “Good run, they could win.”

Holy crap. I really really really need to go to the gym.  In this lifetime.

Jane, still not sure I understand: “Uh. So she made it into the elite group that competes to win the whole shebang? The national title?”

Carlos: “Yep”.

Man of few words.

I think about the variables involved: two horses, two people, one random ticked-off steer determined NOT to be caught, and probably around 6 seconds for the two horses, two people, two ropes, and one ticked-off steer to come together at speed.

It feels physically impossible. So much could go wrong. You aren’t relying on only yourself and your horse. Off by a fraction in timing, communication…a rogue steer…partner misses, you miss…it all happens.

Out of 1200 teams, they made it into the elite high point teams, despite a rough first day of competition: all her points were scored on day two. Day three, she’s qualified for a shot at the national title.

(They didn’t win the title, but they did rank very high in the finals!)

We are SO PROUD of you, Bella!

Bella and Carlos, at team roping practice:

Now you can see no name horse in action. What do we call him? He wants to know!
Now you can see no name horse in action. What do we call him? He wants to know!

Comment away!

Let’s hear those “I’m a bad *ss  – but handsome – dude who happens to be a real softie” names…

Murphy Monday: His Royal Indifference

We have a lot of updating to do on several fronts.  But let’s start with Murphy!

Height check. Ridiculously, none of us has a stick. But he’s roughly the same height as Hudson, which makes him 16 hh at 2 1/2 years old.

Um. Nope. No trolls under this bridge. Right, mom? Right?

He doesn’t take after his super model mom.  Definitely does not work the camera. In fact…

How Murphy feels about having his photo taken.

I had begged Daisy to let me take some pics of him.  I might have even wheedled and promised takeout from the Crazy Chicken afterward. (“Jane! He’s like three different colors, has a winter coat, and I can’t get his socks white. No. NO.”)

I promised an unfailing recipe for sock whitening, and I’d bring the ingredients.  It got me in Daisy’s Jeep with my camera bag.

Murphy was annoyingly indifferent to posing in the “hunter stretch”.

Instead of a good hunter pose, I’ll dazzle you with my cuteness and these red leaves.
Fine. I’ll “stretch”  behind. But honestly, I prefer leaning over my front hooves. That way I’m ready for any eating emergency. Instant head drop.
Putting me in front of a pink bush and wiggling the lead rope will not make me drop my head. It will bore me so much that mom and Auntie Jane will have to leap at my mouth, to pry out the oleander leaves.  FYI, they don’t taste toxic…?

I guess we haven’t decided what color we’re going to be yet.  But hey, white socks, right?

Shots of him moving in the round pen went equally well. Floppy ears.  Big blue truck parked in the background. Did not capture his stellar lofty movement.

At least we can see his other side:

Best you're gonna get, Auntie. Put me in front of the blue truck. I'll really stretch out.
Best you’re gonna get, Auntie. Put me in front of the blue truck. I’ll really stretch out. Hahahahahaha.

Fine. It’s clear he’s found some way to communicate with Hudson about, “Real men do NOT pose for photographs with ears forward and head lowered. Do a tenth of what you usually do, in front of the busiest possible background. Good to go.”

I’m stretching…I’m lifting…really. This is it. Full coöperation. (heh heh heh)
Thank God she’s done. Now I can stop with the llama-head and relax. Man my neck was getting tired. Mom. Mom! Let’s do the Beatles Abbey Road thing, K?

Gotta love the handsome boy.

And life is good…

Why My Shoelaces are Fascinating

I surveyed The Potential New Training Facility with the Trainer. She’s vibrating with happy energy. We were standing in the parking lot, from which you can see practically the entire property. It’s a privately owned breeding barn, no boarders, complete with fully functioning separate barn to lease out to Trainer. The lease details are worked out to everyone’s satisfaction. All that remains is her signature. I can see she’s already in virtual moving mode: unpacking things in her brain, arranging horses and gear.

This is absolutely the right place. Her business had quickly outgrown my boarding barn.  She’s good. Makes me happy that other people see HOW good.

Facility has everything she needs in a good training barn. Huge arena, excellent footing, incredible owners, hot walker, turn outs, a ginormous (covered, lit) round pen….and the holy grail of Training Barns everywhere: hot/cold water wash racks AND washer and dryer. Oh, and full size fridge and freezer. (No more ice trips!)

Man oh man. I’m happy.  But also a bit sad.  I’m going to lose the Hudson-Vision that’s run in the background of all my barn days.  That was a perk, but definitely not a deal-breaker. Obviously, I’ll still see him.

“What do you think?”, she says, correctly reading my dropped jaw to mean this place is AWESOME.

“I think it’s fabulous”, I say, without an iota of hesitation.

We’ve already checked out the feed: top quality. Paddock water troughs cleaned weekly. Stall auto-waterers are huge, not the chin dippers, and cleaned out bi-weekly.  Place is immaculate. Horses are drop dead gorgeous. Healthy, obviously well cared for.

“Any issues?”, she says, hoping she hasn’t missed anything.

“Just one that I can think of?”, I say, gazing lingeringly at the property from the parking area.  “You realize we’ve stood here for 45 minutes, just staring, right? Do you think we will ever go to work?”

We both crack up. I continue.

“I think we’ll park, and then spend at least 30 minutes checking the tightness of our shoelaces. Right. Here.”

“Wanna risk it?”, she says, clearly understanding I just said: where do I sign up?

“I’m good with shoelace obsessing”, I say.

We crack up again.

That was a few months ago.

We’re all moved in. Everyone is happy. There’s a winery across the street. We’re surrounded by grape vines and apple orchards. Since its private property, no rider has misused the fantastic standing offer by neighbors to ride along the rights-of-way that cut through the vines, orchards and fields. TRAILS.

I took these cell photos yesterday morning, from the parking lot.

We call this the Infinity Arena....
We call this the Infinity Arena….who needs an infinity pool? We have horses to ride!

Riding in this arena feels like a cross between flying

Imagine being on horseback here...
Imagine being on horseback here…      (photo credit)

and riding atop of the Great Wall of China.

and riding the same time. Except arena is wider...
okay….arena is slightly wider…but you get the idea.        (photo credit)

Who cares if you missed a cue?  LOOK AT THAT VIEW. (There may be a few horses taking advantage of this.)

Check out the orangish row dots at lower right. Wine grapes. Hills of them. Maybe Hudson could use a teeny tiny bit of training after all?

There's a winery behind me too.
Obsessing over shoelaces. Will I ever get them tight?  (Um. No.)

Life is good.  The people are exceptional. The horses, fantastic.

And I have the Best. Shoelaces. Ever.

The Physicist and The Hare

The phone is crammed between my shoulder and ear. I’m listening intently as I reach for the fax about to drop onto the floor, while simultaiously holding up my sock-covered foot, to prevent the giant, long-eared ball of fur from getting to the fax before me.


“What?”, I say, distractedly into the phone, “You’re leaving for Japan, when…?”

Undone by my startle reaction, I miss the fax AND the rabbit, who gleefully snatches the paper, bounds outside my office onto the deck, and leaps onto a cardbord box with a hole cut in the top.

“Can you hold a minute?”, I say.  I have roughly 20 seconds before the fax is confetti.

“No.  I’m boarding.  I just faxed you the specs I’ll need in Tokyo. Can you fix them and email it to me in English?”, says the physicist.

“Got it”, I say, “You’re cutting out.” I drop the phone and scramble for the door.  Chloe is balanced on the box, busily stuffing the paper down the hole. In 2 seconds, she’ll stuff herself down on top of the paper. Twelve pounds of fuzzy, adorableness determined to shred paper into teeny tiny pieces.

I wasn’t smart enough to cut the bottom off the box. In fact, I reenforced it with duct tape, worried her weight would crumple the “roof”. My only option is to go in.

Right after I squeeze through the dog door to get onto the deck. Undoing the sliding door deadbolt would waste too much time.


I hurl myself mostly through the dog door and get my arm down the hole. I shove the warm fuzzy stomach sideways, feeling for the paper underneath with my fingertips.  Cardboard…cardboard…bunny foot…OW, she bit me!  I resist the urge to snatch my finger out of the box and stick it in my mouth.


At this point, my roommate, who is moving out, greets a prospective new roommate at the front door. I ignore them, no longer going for the fax, now going for the scruff of my bunny’s neck. This works! I’ve got her!

She still has the paper in her mouth. Did you know rabbits can still shred paper while hanging in the air? Me, neither.

We’re at an impasse.  She’s far to big to haul back out of the hole. I’m laid flat out: half in, half out of the house, with my arm plunged to the shoulder into a cardboard box.  I’m also yelling at the box to “LET GO!”, then giving it a vigorous shake from the inside.

My roommate pokes her head around the corner of the door. The No Longer Prospective Roommate is on tip toe, looking over her shoulder, suddenly aware of why roommate #1 is leaving.

Jane has desperate, furious arguments with cardboard boxes. And uses the dog door to go in and out of the house.

“It’s not exactly as bad as it looks”, says former roommate, helpfully. “Wanna see the kitchen?”

The kitchen. With it’s Wall O Rabbits.

I’m doomed. I’m going to have to figure out how to make the whole rent. For the rest of my life.

The fear of rent doubling shoots adreniline into my body: I still have the 500 pound struggling bunny by the scruff of the neck, though she is kicking angrily with her back feet and trying to continue chewing. Not a team player.

I shove my other arm into the hole, ripping the cardboard and busting my chin open when it hits the deck. I grab the fax, try to ease it out of her mouth.  This turns out to be surprisingly simple, because she’s opened her mouth to lunge at the other intruding hand.

This is the same giant bunny who was spread out from my waist to ear, snoring on her belly, with her nose snuggled up under my jaw before the alarm went off this morning.

I get the fax.

Jane 1. Chloe 2.

I have the fax in one hand and bunny in the other.  I’m trying to keep them seperate and figure out how to slide the fax away from her chompers and out of the hole.

My almost former roommate and the not-in-this-lifetime looky-loo are peering around the door again. Former roommate knows what’s going on. She’s having the time of her life not explaining a thing.

“A little help, here?”, I beg.

“With what?”, she asks, innocently, eyebrows raised.

(I might have deserved that, FYI.)

At that moment, Chloe goes completely limp in my grasp.

Oh God. She’s had a heart attack! Noooooo!!!!

Fortunately I’m still suspicious: I snatch the paper up and out of the rabbit hole before I check on her.

I also fall over from the sudden lack of bunny weight and the momentum of yanking my arm out, flipping the box and me on our sides.

One very miffed rabbit is staring at me through the hole. Alive and perfectly healthy. Her eyes zip to the paper.

“OH NO YOU DON’T!”, I shout at the box, hurling myself away. “It’s MINE!”

Former roommate is trying to look grave. Never in a Million Years Roommate is horrified.

I realize she still has not seen the rabbit.

All she has seen is Jane fighting with an inert cardboard box as if it were a many knived serial killer.

Never in a MIllion Years Roommate says to Nearly Former roommate: “I just looked at the nicest two bedroom, two bath, but didn’t have anyone to room with.  Are you looking for a place?”

They go out for coffee. I’m doomed.

Chloe leaps out of the box. She’s seriously miffed.  She flys on top of me, squeezes her plumpness through the mostly Jane-filled dog door, and hurls herself at the metal trash can inside the office. She knocks it over, and begins to roll it end over end around the room.  Rabbits. They love noise.  Who knew?

Holding the fax way above my head, I blindly grope the bottom of the box for the missing corner piece. Bingo.

Chloe is rolling the trash can back and forth over my stretched out legs.  I get the message.

 I am not happy.

I am not happy either. My astro physicist-slash-engineer-slash-inventor employer is on a flight to Japan. I can’t quite make out the numbers near the rip. I can’t have his office fax me the specs again.  I AM his office. Like many geniuses, he has trouble communicating with those less genius-y.

My job was to make him repeat himself over and over using successively simpler words and anologies until I understood what the heck he was talking about, and rewrite the info in psuedo-scientific language, so he can hand it over to his less genius-y clients without anyone but me feeling stupid.


I was going to have to explain the little white lie I told him the previous week, when he realized he needed to make sure I was shredding all important documents.  Of course I had.  I might not be genius-y, but I have office street-smarts.

I had been outsourcing the shredding to a very reliable source till my first paycheck. And she had been doing a stellar job until today.

Murphy Monday: Fine. Are those Balloons…?


This out-of-control, wildly bucking, primal flight-panic moment brought to you by The Two Year Old Who Will Not be Fazed.

And Daisy, who took the picture of Murphy’s first time under saddle, complete with, yes, it’s touching him…The Girth.

(Hudson is still certain The Girth will kill him, even when it goes up one hole every 15 minutes.)

Daisy saddled Murphy, removed his halter, and waited for typical two-year-old reaction.

She’s still waiting.

Murphy is captivated by a birthday party just off-screen, complete with helium-filled balloons waving spookily in the wind. Or not spookily at all, if you’re Murphy.  I think he’d carry one in his teeth.

He’s definitely my nephew.  I bet he smells cake.

I’m Still Not Dead Yet!

Unless we count Dead Busy and Dead Happy.

(Except for the blogging part.  I’d like to be Dead Happy Blogging too.)

I finally have my dream “work”, which involves a lot of transferring dirt from various horses to my person. Also a lot of smiling.

Translation for the non-horsey: I come home filthy.  Covered in grime and horse slobber.  Life is good.

The trainer I am helping is just plain fantastic.  In every way.  The nightmare stories about working for a screaming, over-demanding, blaming trainer?  Not her.  We laugh a lot. I make a mistake, I own it, we move on to how she wants things done.  No drama.

Because we are in the Arabian show world now, I do a lot of tail maintenance. We’re talking twelve-foot tails here, folks.  I hit the jackpot on My Little Ponies.

Here’s Laurie’s mare, Ginger, with her ten foot tail:

IMG_3634 Ginger's tail
Rapunzel, Rapunzel… Uh. Holy Moly. That is a lot of golden hair…

Pre-washing.  It’s a bit longer after the waves are washed out.

A lot has happened.  It’s show season. Our 5-time national champion horse/rider team became  7-time national champions. Between shows, the training barn moved out of my barn, and into its own facility.  Of which you will soon see stunning pics.  It’s a miracle I don’t spend the entire day in the parking lot, rendered speechless and immobile by the view.

Phil was Phixed, but went back home after the trial period.  Hudson has a new roomie, who thankfully does not worship the ground he impatiently stomps upon. Meet Paulo. (The Yoga Master.)

IMG_1673 Hudson and Paulo
Dude. Chill. I’m doing my nightly yoga on the barre. Oh. Hey, this your dinner? Wait. This is my Maori face. Not stealing. Nu-unh.

Life is 5:30 am busy, ending with 7:30 pm snoring noises.

And cake!

Hudson Explains His Very Good Reason (which sounds very Winnie-the-Pooh-ish)

Dear Smart People Who Are Not Jane,

There’s a reason I mess with Jane. Via messing with Phil, who, face it, is über FUN to mess with. I mean, c’mon.  If you were stuck hanging out with a Phil, could you resist turning your head casually, and saying a bored: “Booga booga”?

Or “I think there’s a skunk in the bottom of your hay…”?

Of course I’m scaring him when Jane isn’t around.  Frankly, setting him off over nothing is just too much fun to resist.

My latest episode of admittedly over-the-top phreaking out of Phil was precipitated by little pointy party hats.  Complete with chin elastic.

I had a birthday.


The one day of the year I get to look completely stupid. I’m the handsome horse on the left. The messy human staring into the sun (she’s not very bright) is Jane.  The gorgeous babe rocking the stupid pointy hat (Chicks can do this.  I don’t get it either.) is Ginger, with her tidy and photogenic human, Laurie.

Please take notes, Jane. A little make-up goes a long way.  Tidy up, please.

Goody. I've always wanted a paper cone on my head. Party. Hearty.
Goody. I’ve always wanted a paper cone on my head.

Thank you for listening.  Can any of you help Jane develop some horse savvy?  For instance: We Do Not Put Party Hats On Horses Who Are Not Phil.



p.s. There’s one more letter, for Jane.

Dear Jane,

Ginger and I have proven to be excellent sports. Please destroy the Winnie-the-Pooh hats.


Disney's adaptation of Stephen Slesinger, Inc....
Seriously? You thought I’d tolerate an infantile, spelling-impaired, honey-obsessed, bear on my head?(Photo credit: Wikipedia, Copyright:Disney)

I’m enjoying the daily warming massage therapy on my knee, which frankly, I don’t think looks all that bad? Why all the fuss? It doesn’t hurt. At all. If it did, I would have torn you to shreds already. And the Not-Galloping is making me grumpy, FYI.  This is not good for your future.

The ice water massage boot is interesting. For about three seconds. You thought I was yawning for 20 minutes because it felt good?  I was bored OUT OF MY MIND. (But please, no singing.) You could fill those 20 minutes by peeling me some baby carrots, emperor style.

I need to know.  Does ultra-sound treatment on that knee involve more Jane-Singing?  I guarantee you that knee, should you sing, will explode. But not before I take a chunk out of your shoulder.

The real reason for my letter: I don’t understand this birthday obsession you humans have. I was pleasantly surprised that you considered what I, not you, would like for my birthday.

  1. I do not want to be clean.  Clean is bad.  Thank you for letting me roll and roll and roll.
  2. I do love a clean water trough.  Nice of you to scrub it out.
  3. Of course I love carrots.  And food. Thank you for happily providing both.

You are not off the hook for the party hat photo.  Please consider my recent flare-up of Phil Phreaking Out a warning shot across your bow. If you do not cease, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.

(I can make him afraid of cookies.  Do not tempt me.)



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…

in Which We Meet Phil and Think About Killing Hudson

I risked my life for this photo.

Meet Phil, Bella’s new trial roping prospect:

His right ear: “Are we okay? What are you DOING? You lifted your hand! We’re going to die!!”
His left ear: “I should cut and run.”

He’s a teensy bit anxious. Mix in quick, athletic, slightly phobic, and feels safest with other horses, and you can see some of what needs to be addressed. He’s also cute, sweet, and has a killer cowhorse stop. Asking him to stop from the canter is akin to those car commercials where the car suddenly stops dead at a wall or sheer cliff. Unbelievable.  Exhilarating.  Death defying.


I like Phil.

Hudson likes Phil too. Hudson likes being a God.  Phil believes Hudson Knows All. He encourages Hudson to pontificate.

The first time I ponied Phil, the conversation went like this:

Phil: GAH. What is that? Are we afraid of that?

Hudson: No. Hay cart. Shut up.

Phil: Okay.


Phil: Are we afraid of THAT?

Hudson: NO. Cat. Shut. Up.

Phil: Okay.


Phil: What about that?

Hudson: Dude. It’s grass. We eat it. Chill.

Phil: Okay.


Phil: (trembling) What about that?!?

Hudson: (long pause, then some concession) Sometimes.  Trainer.  Avoid.

Phil: Okay.

Recently, I was ponying Phil off Hudson. Phil had mostly settled down after a few ponies. The hay barn had been cleaned out for a new shipment, and there was a long narrow piece of black plastic blowing back and forth on the ground, making scary serial killer/chainsaw noises. It whispered: “come closer, I have a cookie.  Then I’m going to dismember you alive….whoohahahaha.”

Hudson planted.  Snorted. Grew another 20 feet tall. Scared the crap out of Phil who hadn’t seen the plastic, causing him to do three Looney Tunes style double-takes.

Copyright: Warner Bros.
(Marvin the Martian in the role of “Hay Barn”

When Hudson is spooked, I let him look at whatever, process it, and figure out what the thing may be. Then he’s good.  After a few minutes of staring at softly swooshing black plastic, from twenty feet in the air, with a hysterical Phil bouncing on the line, Hudson was ready to walk up to it and investigate.  He wasn’t afraid.

Phil: We’re NOT afraid of this?!?

Hudson: I don’t think so…

Phil: Okay. Wait. You don’t think so???

We investigate. Hudson decides it’s NBD. He reverts from Hulk-sized to horse-size, relaxes, his eyes stray to the hay, and the plastic is not on his radar. Two seconds later, I realize his brain has marinated about Phil and his anxieties.

Hudson fake snorts.  Prances. Calculates if he can snatch a mouthful of hay out of causing a distraction.

Phil is bouncing up and down and weaving back and forth, trying hard not to lose it completely.  I smack Hudson on the neck.  He flicks his ears.  FINE. I just wanted a bite. But his brain keeps processing.  We pass the plastic 400 more times with Hudson on the buckle, yawning, and Phil having successively lessening panic attacks.

Horses. Never go to the barn with a plan that includes an ending time.

Yesterday, I progressed to riding Phil and ponying Hudson.

This is stupid. Please note I AM NOT HAPPY. Stop talking to him. You’re MINE.

Now we had a three-way conversation going:

Phil: I don’t WANT to be in front.

Hudson: I can handle it.  Move over.

Jane: Hudson, knock it off.  Phil, you’re first.

Hudson: Killjoy.

Phil: But he wants to…and I don’t?

Jane: Phil. Go.

Phil: Going…this okay?

Hudson: No.

Jane: Perfect.

We come up to the hay barn. Phil tries to appear as if he’s walking forward while walking backward. Hudson is smirking. The black plastic is long gone.

I let Phil look at the hay barn. He settles down.  I ask him to walk forward. He cautiously tip toes forward. I ask to stop. We stop so fast that I have to fight the reverse button.  I sneak a glance at Hudson. He’s not yawning.  We stand for a few minutes.

Just as I am about to ask Phil to take another few steps toward the hay (which I would let both of them taste), Hudson’s ears swivel forward dramatically and he leaps in place, one eye on Phil, the other on the grass to his right.

 I. Am. Gonna. Kill. Hudson. Days worth of work, and he knows Phil is going to go with him, not me, or even himself.

I get Phil under control and yank Hudson before he can get his head all the way down to the grass.

Hudson: Geeze…it was just a joke. You don’t have to be so rough.


Jane: Phil, he’s having you on, forget forward, just pass the dang barn, okay?


Hudson: Heh heh heh heh heh

Jane: One more “heh” and I am going to “forget” your happy meal.  Knock it off.

Hudson: Killjoy.

Phil: Are we going to live? Are we alive? Is it gone yet? I still see it.  I think I still see it?

Jane: We’re alive.  Keep walking.

I see another 400 rounds past the hay barn in our future.  After round 200, Phil’s settled down. I decide to switch directions: may as well get over the hay barn in both directions.

We make a couple of passes.  All goes well.  I’m thinking of quitting for the day. Just as we hit the mid-point of the hay barn on what I’ve decided is our last pass, Hudson takes advantage of my focus on getting Phil calmly through the worst part.  He yanks the lead suddenly, something he’s never done, and manages to get about 3 feet of play. He darts behind Phil’s butt, mouth open, ready to chomp grass.  He tosses in a little panicked leap. Phil now has a serial killing hay barn on his right, a rope around his butt, an apparently terrified Hudson charging away from the monster, and me, who says: “Dude. It’s fine”.

He’s so overloaded all he can do is panic without moving. He can’t go right: Monster.  He can’t go left: Hudson.  He can’t back up: still Monster.  He can’t go forward: listening to Jane, who has clearly lied through her teeth about monsters.

Hudson: heh heh heh. GRASS! Score.

Phil: WHAT DO I DO?????

Jane: (reluctantly dropping Hudson’s lead, for safety) Go forward.

Phil: Okay okay okay okay okay.  Going forward. WAIT.  Where’s Hudson?  I can’t go without HUDSON.

Hudson: (muffled by mouthfuls of grass) heh heh heh. You go.  I’ll be here.

Jane: Can I just hit my head quietly on a wall somewhere?

What is the one thing you do not want to do with a smart horse planning a coup?  Reward him.  By turning him loose on grass.  I take one of Phil’s looooong split reins and wallop Hudson.  He flinches in surprise, but not enough to raise his head.  He knows I can grab the lead rope if he lifts his head.

Great.  All I’ve done is terrify Phil. Not only do I lie to him about monsters, I whack the guy he trusts with his own rein.

If it wouldn’t scare Phil, I’d start banging my head on his neck.

Hudson: Bang your head. He won’t mind.  I swear. (heh heh heh)