Who You Callin’ Crazy?

“This horse is crazy, be careful!”

“You need the curb bit or she’ll never listen!”

“Yes, and don’t hesitate to correct her! She’s strong but not real bright!”

“Can’t trust this one. She’ll go bonkers without warning! Threw someone just last week, for no reason!”

Do you ever get this weird feeling of disconnect, when part of you realizes people are you oktalking to you, but what they’re saying seems so unrelated to what is happening that the rest of you is convinced they’re speaking to someone behind you? Rather like walking down the street in jeans and a shirt, and someone looks you dead in the eye and says “Nice dress”?

I turned around. There was no one there. I turned back, and there were the gentleman and the two ladies with concerned expressions, and yes, the little pinto mare standing right where I’d left her, loosely tied to the fence post. Eyeing the saddle and bridle I was carrying with mild interest, her ears swiveling lazily.

“This horse?”

Three nods.

I looked down at the saddle – a nice, well maintained all-purpose English saddle. Nothing fancy, no great brand name, just sturdy and functional. Over my shoulder hung the bridle. Equally no-nonsense. Soft black leather, snaffle bit. I rather liked it. Yes, I had seen the bridle with the curb bit hanging next to it – nice quality, with a few playful rhinestones on the headpiece. But I’m no dressage rider to handle a curb bit with ease, nor did I have any ambitions beyond a nice spin across the hills that day. I looked back up.

This little horse.”

A chuckle. “If you want to call 16 hands and then some ‘little’.”

More nods.

Look down. Saddle. Bridle. Look up. Horse. People.

Yes, her owner’s friend had told me she was a former show-jumper and an eager girl who loved trail rides. Yes, I knew she was neither short nor tiny. But how would I explain to these well meaning people that my Icelandic redhead would have this much taller horse for breakfast, and not even break a sweat? That hands and inches and centimeters mean squat in the face of sheer gigantic Viking personality?

Saddle. Horse. People.

“She thinks she’s little,” I offered.

The humans traded bemused glances.

“Well, just be careful!”

“The owner really should have told you about the curb bit!”

“And the unpredictable crazy episodes!”

Saddle. Horse. People.

“Okay.”

How To Feel Stupid

By now, my Viking would have either practiced her Spanish Walk, pawed a hole halfway to Australia, and/or made a fair attempt to gnaw through the rope out of sheer annoyance. One does not tie up a fierce warrior and then abandon her to stand around while humans make silly noises.

Little Bailey for her part had cocked a leg and watched a bumblebee bounce from one dandelion to the next. Boing, boing… I bet that grass over there tastes nice… boing… are the humans done yet… boing… should I tell them the goat got into their food box… boing… 

“Sorry about the wait, darling,” I hoisted the saddle onto the fence and gave the little mare another quick once-over. An hour or so of groundwork had done us both some good, not only to properly introduce myself to her, but to warm up and stretch. Check for soundness. Learn her little quirks, such as her yielding her hindquarters like a champ, but getting befuddled when I asked for her forehand to move. Such as her willingness to please, coupled with bouts of insecurity (Am I doing this right? Human? Did I get it right? I did? Cool!). She was relaxed, but alert. Loose-limbed and warmed up, but not sweaty. Exactly what any rider hopes for.

I saddled up. Still no sign of impatience, only a soft nibble at my shirt (Why do you smell like watermelon? – It’s my favorite gum – Can I have some? – Nope. But I have carrots for later – Awww bummer. Wait, what? Carrots?) and a friendly nicker to greet a pasture buddy coming back from the trail (Haaayy! I’m over heeere! – Haaay girl! I’m baack!)

‘This horse is crazy!’ – the woman’s words echoed in the back of my head. I wish people would stop doing that, even if they probably meant well. Crazy. What does this evengiraffe mean? The horse who experimentally licked my hand when I held out the bit for her seemed the farthest thing from insane, nutty, berserk, bonkers. Compared to my redhead (who by turns loves to play giraffe, Swan Lake without tutu but with hooves, or ‘steal and then eat the reins’ when it comes time to put on the “Stupid leather on my face thingy”), Bailey was a model of decorum. One nibble on the snaffle, one exchange of glances (Yea? – Sure. Watch the ear, please – Will do) – aaand done.

Crazy. This horse is crazy. You can’t trust her. I wanted to kick myself for letting those thoughts run circles in my mind. Could I be that far off? Was I that bad at judging horsey vibes when there was no one I trusted there to give me feedback? Was I missing something important? What if the signs were there, but I just wanted to like this horse and didn’t look for them? What if… a soft nose whuffling the hair at my ear jolted me out of it.

“Yea. Stupid human, right?” – we going now? – “Yes girl. We going.”

I walked off, long legged Bailey ambling companionably beside me. If there is one lesson I never quite managed to unlearn, throughout all my issues, it’s that you don’t get in the saddle when your head’s a mess. It’s unfair to the horse, it’s bound to drive you both batty, and it can be flat out dangerous. So we walked. A human kicking at rocks and scowling at her boots, and a tall mare with deep, dark eyes contemplating the fresh spring grass, the wheeling birds, the soft breeze, the funny human.

Walk it off. Move on. Such a deceptively simple technique if taken literally. Move. Onward. Onward.

‘You can’t trust this horse.’ Wasn’t those people’s fault that they’d unwittingly poked at the trust in myself, in my gut feeling, in my hard won faith that my old abilities weren’t gone, just buried under a heap of bullshit. Wasn’t the little mare’s fault that suddenly my shoulders were bunched, my chest an anvil, my movements jerky and wooden. Crazy. Was I crazy, to not see what was obvious to everyone else? Why was that curb bit there, if not because…

Human? – Yea, sweetheart? – Grass! Look! Fresh, green, juicy, tender, sweet smelling grass! –  Ah. I am kinda walking you through a candy store here, aren’t I?

Her eyes held all the gentle patience of animals throughout the ages, waiting for the daft self-declared Master of the Universe to figure out the obvious. Opposable thumbs and space rockets, but manure for brains. “Right you are. Dig in, boo.” I plopped down, earning myself a ‘you’re sitting in my salad’ look from Bailey who didn’t need to be told twice. It did smell sweet. The first spring grass, bright and fresh, reaching for the sunlight.

Crazy. I’ve been called crazy, too. Many times. Sometimes in awe, more often in the “nuttier than squirrel poo” sense. Sometimes in the “Poor thing, it’s the … well, you know. Air dummyJust let her sit with her back to the wall, and make no loud noises” sense. Bailey didn’t care. What’s one more weird human? Bailey didn’t bother obsessing over “Why did she saddle me and now we don’t ride? Did I do something? Did something bad happen? Will something bad happen? Oh My Horse, will a Terrible Tractor come and eat us?!” Bailey had grass. Bailey had company, even if it was just a friend of a friend of her human, come to help out and look after her for the week. Bailey had … I really can’t have no watermelon? – bugger off, precious – Your hair smells funny, too, you know! Grapefruit? – UNH! Look, darling. I’m trying to brood here! – Why?  … Bailey had fun.

Can’t trust this horse. Well, she trusted me, after knowing me for just about three hours. Unless I was wrong about that, too, and if I was that far gone I might as well check into Hotel Loony right now. She had trusted me enough to let me brush her, pet her, check her hooves; to waltz around the arena while I was asking silly stuff she’d never done before but that she was game to try for the giggles. Trusted me enough to walk out into the big wide world with me, where you never know if there will be sweet grass or mean tractors. No hesitation. Wait, hold on, there had been those few moments when …

“I’m stupid, sweetheart” – Well, you are sitting on perfectly good food and talking out loud when you know I don’t speak human – “Not that. You’re just a bit insecure, aren’t you?” – What’s that mean? Mind moving your boot, there’s a juicy bit under there – “Strong but not real bright my fine ass! You’re smart. You were watching me, looking for confirmation when you were unsure what was happening, or what I wanted. And. I don’t know how long you’ve been at this barn, but my friend said her buddy just got you a little while ago. So. A smart horse is cautious around stuff she doesn’t know. And if you don’t get the ‘all clear’ from your human, you react. I’ll bet that same fine hind end I mentioned! Literally, if I end up in a shrub with torn jeans.” – Humans sure make a lot of noise when they get excited about something – “Yeah, I know. Wanna test a hypothesis with me, boo?” – Is that a fancy carrot? – “Funny little horse. I meant I’m done brooding” – We go? – “Yes. We go.” – Awesome.

The Art of Keeping The Horse Between You And The Ground

If any other humans had been nearby when I swung my much mentioned derriere into the saddle, there would have been little doubt to whom the ‘crazy’ label should havewhat if you fly been affixed. No, not the tall mare with the beautiful brown and white patches watching inexplicable human antics with bewildered patience. The gigglesnorting woman who bounced around on one leg with the other in a stirrup, after remembering that 16 hands is taller than 14, and that a certain other horse would have given her the third degree by now.

What do they know? The longer this sweet little horse stood perfectly still with a stupid human hopping like a deranged one-legged bunny and laughing tears, the more I had to laugh. The more I had to laugh … well, let’s say I made it up there. Eventually.

What do they know? No more anvil, no more doubt. It wasn’t just the hilarity of a spectacularly inept display on my part, though sniggering at myself is enormously therapeutic. Not to mention I’m a bottomless well of folly, so I never run out of reasons to laugh. It was the ‘Crazy Horse’ behaving exactly as my poor battered confidence had predicted, it was the relief of having come full circle and being back in the ‘zone’ when I didn’t need to see her pretty ears swivel to know she’d heard a bird in the trees. That she was paying careful attention to our surroundings until the silly human got done being daft.

I got you. I got us. – Thank you, sweetheart. You’re a good pal, looking out for me like that. But I think I’ll take it from here – You sure? I hear better, you know. See better, too. – Aye. But I’m the big bad predator with claws and an attitude. I’ll be your Simba, you be my Timon. You tell me what scares you, and I’ll eat it. Or give it a mean Look. – I can do that! I can! – I know, boo. I know now. We go? – We gooooo! 

May my fierce little Viking forgive me, but it was magical. There is something about a tall horse stretching her legs that makes you feel like flying. Bailey’s walk was like being rocked in a cradle high upon a tower. Bailey’s trot catapulted me upwards with half startled, half delighted “Mwah!” sounds until I got my bearings and adjusted to the rhythm. Bailey’s canter … barely touched the ground. Imagine being used to a racecar – low center of gravity, hugging the road, able to turn on a dime. Then someone puts you in the seat of a biplane. A Bailey plane.

Indeed there were some wobbles. A massive pile of lumber, stacked haphazardly near the path, caused some sidestepping and anxious breathing. This wasn’t here last time! It’s biiig – Yep, and slow. Want me to tell it off? – Would you mind? – Bad logs! Stay right there and mind your own business or you’re gonna get it! – It worked? It did! Ha! That’s right, how you like them bananas, stupid logs! There was also a Huge Tractor of Death, but we just stared at that one meaningfully and then gave it a respectful berth because Bailey’s predator pal wasn’t in the mood to eat it (all that steel gives me gas). Bailey didn’t mind. She was more interested in showing me how she can jump a creek, and how neatly she can gather her haunches and tuck her hooves. Cool, right? I can do bigger ones, too! – Holy shitballs! I mean, awesome, sweetheart! – Wanna do a fence next? I know a good one! – Erm. Fence. Right. You see, I’ve never actually … oh look, a nice flat stretch for cantering. Flat being the ticket! – That’s going back to the barn. Where the carrots are. – Carrots it is. Giddyup, darling! – Giddying, funny human!

Owning Your Crazy

By the time we rounded the pond where the frogs had started their early evening concert, and Bailey strolled onto the dirt path leading to the carrots, only one of the concerned humans was still around. I couldn’t resist. I gave her a little royal wave. No queen, no empress, no victorious general riding ahead of their troops has ever waved so graciously. Nor returned in such triumph.

It wasn’t just that my jeans were mercifully untorn, and that I was riding a happy little horse with naught but my knees to steer at this point, because she was so relaxed I’d dropped the reins without thinking. It wasn’t just that by that time I was feeling more than a little cocky (keeping your seat while a professional jumper shows off her skill will do that), and that this particular lady had first dubbed the little mare “Crazy”. It was all of the above, and then some.

Damn right we’re crazy. Little Bailey, for trusting a human she barely knew. Trusting so hard, she’d put all her insecurities right into my hands and faced the big wide world. Lethal Logs and Terrible Tractors and Moving Shrubs of Imminent Death and all. For a horse, that goes against all common sense. And me? Well, I’m peculiar on a good day. But the only truly nutty thing I’d done was to let random strangers mess with my head. Let them knock loose my poor battered screws, and almost deprived sweet Bailey of a fun afternoon in the process. Stupid human.

Cowgirl

 


Human? – Yes, darling? – I distinctly remember you mentioning carrots! – So I did. But wouldn’t you prefer I get that saddle off you first? – Ooooh yes, and brush that spot there please! It’s itching! – Yea, we both worked up a nice, pleasant sweat, huh? – Har, but not as much as that stupid tractor. He ran away from us so fast, he must be halfway to Russia now. Human? – Yes? – We were awesome, weren’t we? – We were marvelous, boo. And Bailey? – Yea? – Thank you.

Bailey (3)
Is this a carrot which I see before me, The top toward my nose? Come, let me eat thee.

 

Bailey (1)
What is this human fascination with little flat boxes anyways?

 

Bailey (15)
Cuddle bug? I never met a bug who wanted to cuddle. I’m a cuddle horse, thank you!
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20 thoughts on “Who You Callin’ Crazy?

      1. It’s interesting, a lot of the bloggers I’m following, decided to write this week about animals/animal behavior/animal psychology. It must be the spring weather prompting this somehow. It was very fun hearing the horse’s stream of thought, and it all seemed very plausible.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You might be on to something there! I’ve had an unusual number of pet posts this week, too!
          Funny though, this was meant to be a human psychology post, and how a horse helped a daft biped to get her head on straight again 😉 Guess little Bailey stole the show, and rightly so!

          Thank you for the “it seemed plausible” compliment – it makes me feel I was close enough with translating/interpreting her actions, expressions and body language into Human Speak (with a bit of creative license of course).

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Ummm, so these horses understand you when you are in your “crazy Valkyrie” mode, or “Crazy Horse” mode and “Being stupid”? 🤭 😎

    Is there a course to enroll in to learn Horse? Are there different dialects of Horse? What’s the Universal word for “WHOA HORSE, WHOA!!!” Because when I was a wee lad, I screamed that to one particular all-white stallion (that did not like new riders) that my evil cousins intentionally put me on for THEIR amusement and it TOOK OFF what seemed to me to be light-speed into a thicket of tree stumps everywhere waiting to empale me… those loud LOUD words f*cking DID NOT WORK!!!! 😡

    Yes, I was permanently traumatized by that experience and my now disowned cousins!!! Well, at least for the rest of that vacation trip. 🤕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Professor, they always understand. Not what we blabber on about, but what we’re really saying. That’s kind of the problem right there 🤣
      (note that I put “..” when I was talking out loud, because -Human!- can’t help it; and none when I was … thinking? Communicating silently, with body language, vibes, breathing…)

      Bailey’s “answers” are sort of translated, sort of interpreted, with a certain margin of error. I really can’t have no watermelon? was easy – I keep my gum in my shirt pocket, and she’d nuzzled at it before when she was curious about the smell (Whatcha got there?). When she went back for it, not pushy (that would’ve been Oauwwww I really want watermelon thing!) but gently… it was obvious she was asking. An equally gentle hand against that nose, pressing lightly until she backed off -> a firm but tender “Bugger off, precious”, which she understood perfectly. Then decided to disregard and nuzzle my hair instead (grapefruit shampoo must’ve smelled nice) 😜
      Not a word spoken, but communication happened – and kept on happening.

      Wanna do a fence next? I know a good one! by contrast was my best guess. She was obviously feeling good about herself after the little hop over the creek, and confident that her rider wasn’t a complete idiot (I had kept my balance, and only tensed for a second in delighted shock when I learned that a professional jumper treats even a hop as serious business. Very different from the “It is an obstacle which must be overcome with minimum fuss and maximum ferocity” Viking approach). So, when she pranced a bit and looked down the path to where a few fences marked empty sheep pastures… I guessed she was offering me to go there.

      What’s the Universal word for “WHOA HORSE, WHOA!!!”
      🤣😆
      I’m sorry, I shouldn’t laugh… putting a kid on a cocksure stallion is reckless at best, if not damn dangerous 😨 I hope your disowned cousins had their breeches eaten by a feisty horse for that!

      But yea… Loud and Words.
      That’s why it didn’t work. 😜

      I don’t know the noble steed of course so I can only guess, but…
      Stallion thought bubble if unsettled by screaming Junior Professor: HOLY shitballs that human is tense. Something must be after us. Better run. I got you little guy! We’ll be outta Dodge in no time! He’s screaming?! Is it on our heels? Raaaahhhh!”

      Stallion thought bubble if cocky son of a mare: This one ain’t got no clue. Might as well have a Tibetan-speakin’ tortoise in the saddle for all the sense he makes. Oh well, gate’s open, wide open world awaits. ‘e’ll figure it out or fall off. They all do, eventually. Here comes the screaming. Man, humans are annoying… can a guy stretch his legs in peace for a bit?

      Several other possibilities, but these are most common 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmm, so you’re sayin’ I didn’t really know what I was really saying!!!!? 😶

        WOMAN! Are you freakin’ kiddin’ me!? I knew EXACTLY what I was screaming and exactly what I wanted him to do… or rather NOT DO!!! I think the problem was 1) the clearly hyper-paranoid Stallion who didn’t understand perfect English, and 2) my warped demented extended family members… that seems to be a genetic hereditary thing on both sides of my parental ancestors. Good Gawd and Gawdy-esses! I would’ve rather danced with a grizzly bear!

        And P.S. I don’t think YOUR well-educated Equine interpretation of what that psychotic Stallion was saying to me and thinking about me is entirely accurate — except maybe for the screaming annoying part.

        And definitely the run free FAST the gate’s open part! And the TENSE, tenser, tensest part! YES!

        Well, and maybe the Tibetan-speakin’ tortoise no clue part.

        But THAT’S IT!!! 😠

        Can I borrow Bailey? 😋

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m saying that what you were saying was the opposite of what the horse was saying all along! 🤣

          Still, you’re already halfway there: you made it out alive, you can laugh about it now, and you know even Shakespearean eloquence won’t save you. Carrots might, with the right horse. Hint: it’s the exact opposite of the one your cousins recommend!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. What about apples AND carrots with a right or wrong horse? Perhaps even a nice Waldorf salad!? What I am MOST concerned about is that I do NOT want to tempt life or the Grim Horse Reaper ever again! What eloquent romance and gift bearing works!? 😬

            Can I borrow Bailey? 😍

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I’m sure she’d appreciate the salad and a sonnet and would repay with generous cuddles (1400 lbs of affection, that horse!) 😆

            But if it were up to me, I’d put the Professor in a self-assured but easygoing Viking’s saddle before I’d hoist you onto Bailey – insecure horsey and nervous rider makes for lots of speed, but little fun for either.
            On the other hoof, there’s nothing like a quirky Icelandic to help a human let go of Grim Horse Reaper anxiety. Once you realize your tension just makes him roll his eyes at you (Cool your jets buddy, it’s not my first rodeo. Just don’t try and pull my face off and we’ll get there) you can relax and start to listen. Once he realizes you’re paying attention to him and aren’t just a paying passenger … you guys can talk.

            It’s a process, not unlike learning a new language – only this one is born in silence. But once you can dance with a Viking and their “I’m much bigger on the inside” personalities … no horse will hold any terror ever again 😉

            Liked by 1 person

          3. But if it were up to me, I’d put the Professor in a self-assured but easygoing Viking’s saddle before I’d hoist you onto Bailey – insecure horsey and nervous rider makes for lots of speed, but little fun for either.

            So in other words, put me on like a classical merry-go-round with horses or those quarter-machine horse rides in front of Walmart? Is that the process you are suggesting in order to “dance with Vikings, their personalities, and their four-footed majestic animals? 🤔 🙄

            Liked by 1 person

          4. If that were my intent messire, I’d put ye on a bomb-proof Quarter Horse or a gentle draft giant and be done with it 🤣

            Nope, I’d have you stay on your toes and pay attention. Easygoing in a Viking doesn’t equal rocking horse. It means veteran warrior. It means he’ll forgive mistakes more readily and his character is strong enough to not be upset every time you are unsettled. But that same character means you’ll have to work on earning his respect. Listen to him, and be conscious about what you communicate.

            Honest and self aware communication works better than any bribe with Vikings … I thought it might suit you. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

          5. Hmmm. Okay, here’s some “honest and self-aware communication”!

            I’m thinking since Viking veteran WARRIORS sound a bit aggressive, unpredictable, and lacking perhaps in perfect English… I might be more suitable with… oh, I don’t know… a sloth? A Galapagos tortoise? Or a Kiola? That way I feel I can match their speed and wit! 😀

            Not at all questioning your horse-whispering talents your Majesty and fare Valkyrie Queen-maiden! ❤

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  2. Aww – this was so much fun reading! I love how your friend wanted to have some of that lovely watermelon gum. 😉 And gave you a look because you sat in the salad – LOL! We humans really must seem weird and crazy to horses, well, make that all animals. Love that you two got on so well together and that those other three humans didn’t had a clue what they were talking about. Oh, and I love those close-ups!! 🙂

    Like

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