Category Horse Girl

Man’s dominion over nature?

Since we only had a few days to spend in Long Beach this year, we tried to cram as much as possible into those days. So instead of sleeping off the previous night’s booze, we rose early and drove to downtown long beach to go for a morning horseback ride along the ocean. We arrived a bit too late for the first ride of the day, so we had an hour to kill in the area, which felt like much longer as nothing is open that time of day. During our hour, we spotted this charming sign:

Really? At no point during its construction did anyone look at it and say “Gee, that’s an awkward pose, and it sort of looks like this dog has a big deformed ballsack”? Because it took me quite some time to figure out that it was intended to be a paw and NOT a ballsack, and it wasn’t just the early hour clouding my judgement. We also spotted some deer grazing in a nearby field, relatively unconcerned about the morning’s light foot traffic. This meant they kept eating instead of raising their heads or doing anything picture-worthy, so in a move that is bound to end either in hilarity or tragedy, I encouraged Jason to go near them with the phrase “Oh, they won’t hurt you, I just want some pictures.” Jason cautiously moved toward them, warning them “Hey deer! Predator moving in your area!”, and this is what happened:

Apparently we’re not so great at the menacing predator thing, even if we are the top of the food chain. Those deer weren’t thinking “Oh no! Apex predator!”, they were merely annoyed. In the event of some apocalypse that wipes out civilization, should we survive the initial impact, I don’t know how well we’ll fend for ourselves by attempting to annoy food to death. After the hour had passed, we went back to ride some horses. Two years is long enough to forget just how obstinate a horse can be, and as it turns out, their obstinacy hasn’t lessened in any way. This time, I was seated on an obstinate horse named Gunner, who seemed rarin’ to go, fighting to move forward as everyone else was still mounting their horses. Oh, he was rarin’ to go, all right. Rarin’ to go right back into the pen to eat some oats. It didn’t matter how much I pulled back on the reins, said “whoa”, or shot thoughtwaves of “I am going to have you turned into glue” at him with my brain, he wasn’t having it, and proceeded to trot right into the pen to chow down, with me dragged along for the ride like fat ballast. After he was forcibly dragged away by the wrangler, he then stood in line backwards with his head wedged into a corner like he was a little kid pouting. We were warned not to let the horses eat any of the dune grass as it’s not good for them, but Jason’s horse recognized that he’s a pushover and viewed the whole trip as an endless snack bar. CHOMP. CHOMP. CHOMP. “Hey, no, I don’t think you’re supposed to do–“CHOMP.

We were furthermore instructed to keep some distance between our horses, which had been easy to do two years ago when it was just the four of us, but we had a lot of butt-sniffers in this group, which meant that horses were lashing out at one another with some frequency. I managed to mostly stay outside of the fray, but every once in a while, Gunner the butt-sniffer would wedge himself up in a group of horses just for sniffs and giggles. After the ride, I was helped off my horse by a five-year-old, which didn’t do much for my sense of self-confidence. I paid this child back in kind by not tipping him and hobbling away bowlegged.

Coming up on America’s Next Top Gluestick

Today, Jason took me to see the Lipizzaner show at Comcast Arena. I, like many young girls, grew up obsessed with horses. I participated in the 4-H Horseless Horse program, which is like a rent-a-horse service for preteens. “One horse, please” topped every Christmas wish list until my parents could no longer take me tearing out the front door in sub-zero temperatures every December 25th, looking desperately through snowdrifts for the horse which Santa had assuredly left for me. (They weren’t so concerned about how distraught I was, more over the heating bill that resulted from doors and windows being flung open.) However, their patience for my obsession was limited, because there’s only so long an adult can feign interest in watching twelve year olds in cowboy hats riding shaggy ponies circle a ring over and over and over. Eventually it got to the point where they pretended that all horses had died from a rapidly-spreading horse disease, and so they flipped the channel whenever they saw something with four legs on TV larger than a dog, avoided taking me to Medieval Times, and nearby Tempel Lipizzan shows were also a no-go.

Over time, I began to suspect that my parents weren’t exactly truth-tellers on the whole horse issue. When I heard on the radio this week that the dancing horses would be on display, I came home and immediately demanded that Jason take me.

…As it turns out, perhaps my parents didn’t have so much of a problem with horses as they did with mind-numbing, soul-sucking boredom. I hadn’t expected the show to be a thrill-a-minute, and I would have been sufficiently entertained if I had been busy trying to take decent photographs, but Comcast Arena has a ban on professional cameras, and I was given the option of either returning it to my car, where some nearby transient could break in and steal it, or checking it in with Comcast Arena employees, and letting one of them steal it. I decided to take my chances with the car instead of leaving it in the hands of The Worst Company in America, where lying and stealing must be in the employee training manual. Everyone else with their phone cameras and handheld cameras were allowed inside, so the message they’re sending is “Comcast: We love a shitty, blurry picture!” At least it’s in concordance with their television service. I wonder if when the wind blows moderately hard, the arena goes down, too?

So instead of being distracted with fiddling with my camera settings, I was forced to listen to the MC and observe the audience around me, focusing my hate beam. It almost read like a single mom’s convention, filled with a lot of greasy-haired, exhausted women dandling one or more very young children on their laps. The children were too young to appreciate the show, so it was clear these women were there to ogle some horses for themselves. Save for the miracle of birth control, I would probably be one of those women. Nearly everyone was decked out in Everett-level finery, because nothing says “big day out” like shorts with a hole in the rear end, t-shirts with stains, or Batman capes (I should note that said cape was on an adult, not a child).

I very nearly lack the language to describe how thoroughly I hated the MC. When he wasn’t talking about the history of the horses in excruciatingly boring detail, he was stumbling over the names of the horses and the riders, or telling jokes of the sort that cause one to want to find a flaming hot poker and jam it into their ears to avoid the risk of hearing one ever again. It’s like he built a comedy career around jokes that make audiences want to groan in despair.

Because the horses are named after their sire and dam, all of their names are quite similar, and it’s difficult to tell them apart. Jason and I solved this dilemma by giving them more memorable names: Tapey Joe, Poopy Bob, Foamy Steve, and Slobbery Mike. Tapey Joe was named as such because when he was supposed to perform a jumping trick, he pulled up some tape from the arena floor onto his hoof, and then his leg bandages came untied and he turned into a sloppy, angry mess. They kept trying to get him to perform the trick, emphasizing how natural the movements are to these horses, but Tapey Joe was having none of it and kept kicking out at his trainer. I hoped he would break his lead and put a hoof through the MC’s jokehole, but no such luck.

Aside from the incident with Tapey Joe, the rest of the show was entirely unmemorable, and word must have gotten around about it, as the arena, which is about the size of a large-ish high school gym, was less than a quarter full. I feel like they could have done a few things to make it more interesting and profitable, and I’ll list those things now for free, as I’m feeling charitable:

One: Know your audience. Sure, the show emphasizes the tradition of training these horses in this manner by accompanying the performances with classical music, but in this day and age, that doesn’t play well, particularly in places like redneck mecca Everett. If you have the horses burst through the curtains in a shower of fireworks and the strains of “Rock You Like A Hurricane”, the audience is way more likely to get pumped up.

Two: People don’t want to buy your program for an extra ten bucks. There’s this thing called the internet now, and people can look at as many pictures of horses as they want to for free, with their pants off if they would like. If you want to get extra money from your audience, institute a U-Pet-Em program where for an extra ten bucks, they can pat the horse’s neck, and for an extra twenty, have their picture taken with the horse. People are there at the show because they want to see pretty horses and imagine riding them. They aren’t going to get that feeling from a printed program.

Three: People are there at the show because they want to see pretty horses, not to listen to an MC yammer on and on with the world’s worst repertoire of jokes. More horses, less MC. Maybe have the MC lay on the ground and have the horses perform a leap maneuver over him.

Four: Less dressage, more tricks. If you’ve seen one horse perform a flying lead change, you’ve seen them all. There’s no need to have every horse in your lineup perform that same maneuver over and over and over again. Instead, have the Evel Knievel of horses jump over a flaming bus. Have a Horseasaurus robot stomp around the ring. Give your audience something to marvel over and talk about!

Five: Let people take decent pictures. Seriously. Good photos are a good, free advertisement. Not one person who sees this photo is going to think “Hot DAMN I need to see this show no matter the cost!”

 

Man, that light blur inside that lighter blur is, like, so inspiring.

Six: Run it like a reality show. Let audience members vote on which horse gets sent to the glue factory. Will it be the obstinate one who won’t perform tricks? The ugly one that snotted on the person in the wheelchair in the front row? The other obstinate one who performs tricks poorly? YOU DECIDE.

In conclusion, until this horse act steps up its game, you’re better off staying home and watching horse videos on youtube. Here’s one to get you started.

 

Why would anyone move from a pony country to a non-pony country?

The other day, someone posted to the seattle community, asking if anyone had the space to store someone’s 8 or so* mini-ponies for the winter. I struck upon an amazing idea, friends. Maybe a once-in-a-lifetime idea.

 

convo

I am going to travel in majestic style this winter. I hope the Fred Meyer has a place for me to chain up 8 or so mini-ponies while I get groceries.

ponies

I also hope the ponies can handle stairs or they’re going to have to hang out on my back patio all winter. I’m not concerned about how they’ll get along with Napoleon–either they’ll establish dominance and kick him in the face until they become friends, or I won’t have to buy dog food for a while.

 

 

*Seriously, how is it that they only have an estimate as to the number of ponies they have? Is that a sign that you have too many ponies? Can you HAVE too many ponies?

Beach House Day Three: Allergic To Fun

This weekend, Anne discovered that if she were a fish, she’d be a puffer. Except instead of swelling up when faced with danger, she swells up when confronted by fun. On Sunday, I woke up extra early and herded out Anne and Tonya to go horseback riding. Initially, Kirsten was supposed to come with us and we were going to ride as the Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse. Kirsten was Famine, Tonya was War, Anne was Death, and I, of course, was Pestilence. But, as usual, whenever we plot to bring about the ends of the earth, something comes up and we end up terrorizing just a minor percentage of humanity and injuring ourselves along the way. It was no small miracle that I was actually up and about early that morning, and it was out of character and unsettling to be the one who was prompting others to hurry or we’d be late. As it turned out, no one else bothered to drag their ass out of bed that morning, so the three of us ended up being the only people on the ride. Anne offhandedly mentioned how her mother was allergic to horses. (Insert foreshadowing here.) I was seated on an obstinate horse named Mack, Anne was seated on an obstinate horse named Cisco, and Tonya was seated on an obstinate horse named Becky who came with an accessory– a foal named Dottie who enjoyed nibbling on Tonya’s shoelaces. Did I mention that my obstinate horse named Mack was actually a tiny pony? 4581_92811218939_504738939_2056252_214150_n Because if I did, I lied. I’m sorry. 4581_92811163939_504738939_2056242_3469689_n The foal was with us for the whole ride, capering, gambooling, cavorting, and any other ‘ing’ word that demonstrates that her spirit wasn’t broken unlike the resigned, joyless creatures we’d piled our sack o’ potatoes weight upon. These horses were clearly used to the shorter, hour-long ride, so when we hit the typical turn-around point, all of them had to be goaded into continuing to move further away from home base. Tonya’s horse actually had to be forcibly led by the guide’s horse, and more than once, Anne was left floundering in the back while her creepy, blue-eyed aryan nazi favorite horse sneezed a great big “FUCK YOU” and tried to go home. 4581_92811198939_504738939_2056248_7387082_n What was an even bigger laugh was at this point, the guide said that if we wanted to trot/canter the horses, this was the spot to do it as they’d have to walk the whole way back in order to not get them into the habit of running home. The only way to get one of these animals to move faster than a walk would be to bring it to a dead stop and make it wait while everyone else moved ahead. Then, and ONLY then, would it be motivated to move faster, urgently whickering “HAY YOU GUYS DON’T LEAVE ME”, but as soon as it was within striking distance of the group again, it would immediately turn into a energy conservationist zombie and shamble forward at the slowest of walks. But when we turned around…that was a different story. All of a sudden, when we had to force them to walk, mine was incredibly motivated to run. Every two steps, it would bust into a trot and I’d have to restrain it. The foal would gallop by and mine would go “yeaaaaaaaaaaah, that sounds like a great idea!” and again, I’d have to restrain it. I think Anne and Tonya were just grateful to have their animals willingly moving forward at this point. A few weeks ago, I’d received a summer recreation guide from the city of Kent, and I excitedly noted the six hour horseback ride. I hadn’t actually sat a horse in years, but I used to ride a lot and a six hour ride sounded awesome. Let me tell you: Two hours was borderline too much. At the end of the first hour, I was already squirming in the saddle. By the end of the second, I knew that the tender flesh of my inner thighs had taken quite a beating. When I dismounted, I could hardly walk. Today, three days later, I still hurt. Anne almost had to be lifted off her horse. At some point, likely during the dismount process, she brushed her hand across its coat…and then touched her eye. (Here is some more vital information.) 4581_92811228939_504738939_2056254_4129650_n After the ride, I forced everyone to walk bowlegged into Marsh’s Free Museum, where I finagled more change out of them for more pressed pennies and assorted crapola. I had my fortune told by a pirate. I saw an alligator man who reminded me what a creepy fuck I’d be if I had access to taxidermy equipment. I saw a player piano with a poem about how it still works, with an out of order sign next to it. I tried to justify buying an alligator head. I saw what appeared to be Simpsons characters made out of coconuts and for a moment was afraid I’d teleported into Tijuana by accident. 3633857720_f51db3bc74 I saw a pirate head whose sole purpose seems to be getting skullfucked and I couldn’t justify its purchase but I wanted to so very, very badly. 3633041197_8cb011074e At some point along the way, Anne realized her face was swelling near her eye. A lot. We went to lunch and realized we should have bought her an eyepatch as all of a sudden she had turned into a crazy-eye pirate. 4581_92811243939_504738939_2056257_1439743_n She then went into the bathroom and moaned that she’d need lady supplies soon, because she needed yet another thing to go wrong. Oh god, the laughter we had at her expense that lunch was nothing short of obnoxious and incredible. We joked that we’d stop in a tourist shop and see if they had some tampons with ‘Long Beach’ written on them…or perhaps ‘Extra Long Beach’, with a sand dollar tied to the end of the string. We told her to go back and kiss the horse goodbye to get super-puffy Angelina Jolie lips without the hassle of surgery, but warned her not to slip it any tongue. We laughed at the idea that Jim would probably have to put a bag over her head if they planned on getting it on before HE leaves for the next three weeks. We asked the server if they had any horse fillets. We made Anne laugh so hard that she almost turned into a play-dough fun factory, with peanut-butter pie coming out of her nose. We laughed so much that the servers wanted to know what was so damn funny and didn’t get it, even when we explained what was going on. We had strangers tell Anne that they hope her swelling goes down soon. We loaded her up on benadryl and Coke (to counteract the drowsiness since I couldn’t drive her car back as I don’t know how to drive a stick. My dad always wanted me to learn, saying that a situation could arise where it might be helpful. What situation would that be, Dad? When would it ever be a useful skill? GAWD.) and began the eventful 3.5 hour drive home.