And, for me, happy thoughts and silly stuff almost always involves horses.
So, first up is the adorable Princess Barret and her Wonder Pony, Velvet.
We have a pony that lives next door to us who, at least as far as this video shows, is just as sweet and long-suffering. Any child could climb all over Pony Boy, crawl under his belly, tug at his mane or tail or forelock or, unfortunately, bridle, and he would. not. move. EVER.
But our delightful little neighbor is one of those ponies who has learned that children pose no threat whatsoever that he might actually have to DO anything, and so he will happily submit to the ministrations and equestrian dreams of wee tots. Have a kid on him that is old enough to think they can ask for so much as a trot, and Pony Boy brings out his full bag of tricks...and none of them are nice. You're going to get either a rank buck, a nasty swerve, or, if he is particularly annoyed, a wild gallop before ending with either a buck or a swerve...or, on the rare occasion...both. But you are not going to win. Or stay on.
Pony Boy is a nasty little shit.
But he is as good as gold for the little ones who aren't capable of more than smearing themselves around on his back. If he can get his head down for a bite of grass while they're doing it, then they are safe for hours. There's no better babysitter.
More horse stuff.
This says it all. Horses, like dogs, have strong social instincts. But, unlike dogs, they know they are prey and that they taste really good. This makes them skittish, to say the least, and desperately in need of a strong leader to feel safe. Proving your leadership, however, requires convincing the horse that you are better, stronger, faster, smarter than he is, otherwise why would he turn over his very survival to you? This isn't always straightforward, considering that most people are none of those things.
And most people show just how stupid they are when they try to treat horses like big pets. That's not what the horse is looking for and it isn't going to convince him you know shit about survival. A horse needs your leadership far more than he needs your affection. Period. This does not mean that you can't, eventually, have an amazingly strong relationship with a horse. You can - and should. But you must start with leadership. Once that is decisively settled, then you can safely treat your horse like a big dog and get away with it. Unfortunately, too many people in horses nowadays have come from a background completely devoid of farm life and have not one freaking clue about how dangerous horses really are. They skip right past the whole leadership issue and jump right to feeding carrots and kissing them on the nose. Not smart. In fact, often dangerous.
Some horses, without proper leadership, are mean. Many are scared shitless. All are dangerous. But a horse who understands you are his leader and trusts that you are in charge of his survival, will literally go into battle for you.
They are incredible creatures.
This is my baby. He has had the entire summer off due to an injury to his left front leg. And now the world is ending and I haven't ridden in months. Of course, we just put in a tremendous arena, and laid down serious bank to do it...so having the world go down the toilet now is just about standard for my luck.
And to finish off this equestrian-themed post is the official dressage test for horses unsuitable to become anything. Study it well. I expect good things.
When my daughter was quite little, probably three or so, we attended a horse show where a lovely large pony entered the dressage ring with a young girl. The pony was flashy, a black and white paint with incredible markings. Lovely. Well, Daughter fell in love. She immediately began squirming and climbing on the railing, too overcome by her emotion to stand still, begging me to buy her a pinto JUST. LIKE. THAT. ONE.
I could see trouble, though. The pony, while definitely fancy, was tense as a coiled spring, and almost immediately upon entering the ring at C, began to whinny. Well, whinny is an understatement. This pony was screaming. The visual was somewhat disconcerting, as the outline of the pony never changed. He LOOKED entirely correct, except for the obvious tension, but the SOUND was unnerving. It portended bad things.
The tension increased. The screaming increased. And, by the look of horror on the young rider's face, the firm conviction of impending disaster increased for her as well.
When she tentatively tried to pick up the canter, the pony accepted this timid request with all the explosive capacity of a Widow Maker. He SHOT across the ring, swerved to continue galloping in a large circle, picking up speed, until she was flung like a sling-shot from sheer centrifugal force and landed in a heap far outside the dressage court.
My daughter stilled, watching this. As the dust settled around the young competitor and the pony gleefully disappeared toward the barns, Daughter flatly said, "Don't buy me THAT pony."
Anyway, let's all keep our heads about us in the coming days. Oh...and if you haven't done so already, stock up on toilet paper. You'll thank me for that suggestion. Guaranteed.