… he’s wearing the baby spurs. Ding… ding… ding

“He’s coming…”

That’s what the gelding said early this morning, when the stable was still quiet and the loud guys with the breakfast were not around yet.

I stretched my ears up high, but I couldn’t hear a thing.

“Baby spurs… I guess it’s your turn,” he added.

“What do you mean?”

“You can tell who’s coming by the sound of their spurs. Claire’s sound light, and the trainer’s hit the ground with every step he takes.  Dong… dong… dong.”

“He’s taking them off before he gets on me.”

“Not today… he’s wearing the baby spurs. Ding… ding… ding.”

I was a little worried, and I let my ears hang down. “What are they for?”

“They’ll teach you something…”

The stable door opened, and the trainer came directly to my stall and took me out. He has a bad habit of making me trot before breakfast. I kept looking at the ground, trying to see if he really would jump on me with those clinking things.

The gray gelding hung his head out of his stall. “They don’t bite, it’s just a little sting.”


“A wasp that doesn’t sting teaches you nothing.”

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digusted Angie

I peeked over to the bay mare, who was making faces.


We were working and having fun. I loped with my trainer, trying to kick my tail.  I know he doesn’t like that, but I like it. He asked me to stop, and I expected him to complain. Instead, he let me stand quietly while he watched the bay mare picking up a lope.

“Yeah… great!” I heard him say.  He’d only said that to me a few times.

I don’t understand why everybody is watching the bay mare when she lopes so slowly. I can do that, too.  I remember when I loped slow circles with Oliver…

What did the gray gelding call it? Pleasure… Western Pleasure.

I know what pleasure is: it’s apples in my mouth, the brush on my withers, the touch of my trainer… nothing to do with loping on the rail.

The bay mare came over to us. Claire, on her back, talked to the guy on mine.

I peeked over to the bay mare, who was making faces.

“Are you a pleasure horse?” she asked.

“Not sure…”

“To me… it’s so boring.”

“What does that mean?”

“It’s when you feel disgusted.”

I didn’t want to look stupid, so I said, “Ok… is it pleasure?”

“The greatest pleasure is only a heartbeat away from disgust.”

I had nothing to say.

What’s disgust?

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The gray gelding

“They tease you, baby”, said the gray gelding…


“You know, when you’re a horse, you have to rely on experience.”

That’s what the sorrel mare always whispered through the gaps of the wooden planks of the stall. Now the sorrel mare is no longer there.  If it’s true that experience is a teacher, I can say that horses disappear sooner or later. And I don’t want to disappear.

I actually have to admit that it’s easy to learn from what you’ve already experienced. So, if you experienced the fence hurting you when you licked it, you’d avoid doing it. Once you have more experience, you learn that that kind of fence is only dangerous if it makes a sound like flies on white stripes.

Sometimes, my experience fools me. That’s what happens when I’m ready for one thing, and then something else happens. This morning, I heard grains falling into my neighbors’ manger, and I was prepared to see my breakfast coming. I got really excited, ready to plunge my mouth into the food, but for some reason, it didn’t come. I started to chew the rim of the manger, and my mouth watered.

Claire came and tied me up in the aisle. I was confused: from my experience, my breakfast should have been in the manger.

“They tease you, baby”, said the gray gelding, “so you learn to trust more than your ears.”

“I don’t need them to tell me that it’s time for breakfast.  I learned it from experience.”

“Oh, baby,” said the wise gelding in a sigh.  “Experience is the teacher of fools.”

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Human emotions

…the white-faced mare was having fun.


Humans make so many sounds. They cry like cats but they don’t hiss, and they bark like dogs but they don’t howl. Humans…they whisper and shout, but they never tilt their ears toward really important sounds.

Sometimes they bray like asses and shake their heads, or even their whole bodies; they show their teeth and open their eyes wide. That’s when their smell reminds me of my playmates, when we were hiding behind the shelter and making Oliver search for us.

The gray gelding says they’re “laughing,” but he doesn’t know why.

I was tied up in the aisle, waiting for Claire to get me ready for the arena game. An old mare with a white face asked me, “Are you going to be a champion?”

“I don’t think so,” I answered promptly, “because I would have to beat all the losers.”

“So, what are you going to be?”

“Famous… and I’ll have a stage name.”

The old mare started to make the same sounds as the humans, showing her teeth like them and pulling her lips back. Her body trembled, and the smell of playing foals came right to my nostrils. Suddenly, I understood: fun! It was the smell of fun, and the white-faced mare was having fun.

But why?

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I stared at him, frozen… my ears tilted toward the buckets.

I can’t stand him when he acts like that.

We went into the arena together, and I did everything he asked. The guy started all over again with the buckets, and I kept chasing the smell of breakfast. I galloped on the circle, trying to listen to his every command: he’s the trainer, and I have to do what he says. The buckets were hitting my hips, and I was trying to move in a way that would give me less of a hassle.

He pulled me close to him.  “I have no time, and you have no sense of timing,” he said.  “You have no idea what it is. “

When the trainer talks like the aphorisms of the ass, I feel lost and I get angry.

I know what time is. I know that night is between dinner and breakfast, day is between breakfast and dinner, and lunch is about halfway between the two. I know I have to stay still until Claire’s brush has gone from one shoulder to the other, passing through the tail. I also know that when Claire arrives in the barn and I’ve already had breakfast, the brush runs faster. Time is when I move on the circle: galloping is like eating grains, trotting is munching hay, and walking is when there’s nothing else left and I rummage through my bedding in search of the last blade.

I know that time is something that humans want.  It’s like when we all ate together in the foal paddock: if you weren’t careful, the others took everything.  So, when humans don’t have enough time, they move around like dogs chasing cats, and they have a bad smell.

I didn’t understand everything, but the gray gelding says it is so.

“We cannot be a team without timing,” said the trainer. “It’s like dancing.”

I stared at him, frozen… my ears tilted toward the buckets.

The trainer scratched his had. “Bucket dancing…”

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The cat in the box

I sniffed at the box, moving it a little, but couldn’t see anything special.


The trainer left again.  I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but I went to play with Claire. She has a new strange habit when she enters the arena: she pulls me behind her until we reach a place where the sun sometime enters.  I can hear cats crying there, and she seems to like it. I never saw the cats, but they sound exactly like the ones we have in the stable.

I talked to the gelding about it. “Oh… that’s music, you have get used to it.”

“Why should I get used to cat crying?”

“It’s not crying… they sing.”

I went to my corner, hung my head, and tried to figure out what Claire expected me to do with that noise.  It’s so hard to learn how to be a show horse!

The next day, I watched the cats walking up high, on top of the stall doors. They always have their noses in the air, and their tails are strange, useless for shooing the flies. I was convinced the cats had no other use than being chased by the dogs, but… the wise gelding said they sing music…

This morning, Claire pulled me in front of the boxes again and let me stand there, listening. “Good girl…” she said, petting my neck.  “It’s loud…”

I sniffed at the box, moving it a little, but couldn’t see anything special.

Back at the stable, I stood tied up in the aisle. The gray gelding looked out of his stall.  “How was it?” he asked.

“Easy… I just don’t understand…”


“…how they all fit in that tiny box…”

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I’d never eaten food through my ears, but…


He’s back. This morning, I heard the food falling into my neighbor’s manger, and I looked into mine, waiting to see my breakfast hit the empty bottom. I love this moment!

But the food didn’t arrive. Instead, the stall door opened and I heard his voice: “Hey Lucy… let’s go play with the buckets.”

I was so hungry for him, but he arrived at the wrong moment. I was happy to see him, but I was ready to get my food, not my trainer. It’s not easy to explain…

I was happy and mad at the same time. The guy pulled me out of my stall and tied me up in the aisle. I heard the sound of the others having breakfast. I usually don’t hear it because of the sound of my own munching in my ears, so it doesn’t bother me.

This morning, tied up in the aisle, I heard a lot of grains roiling in the mangers, the crunching of my stall mates, and their sighs.  Some of them have strange ways of dealing with food. The gray gelding constantly stirs the grains with his muzzle deep in the manger, the sorrel mare is very picky and slow, and the buckskin gelding lets his ears hang down.

And the smell… The smell of breakfast was moving along the aisle, sometimes far away, then suddenly hitting my nostrils.

I sighed and let my head hang down to the ground, where the sound and smell of my missed meal fainted.

I didn’t notice the trainer brushing and saddling me up. He took me to the arena and lunged me for a while. Then, he called me to him. “You’re always looking at the exit,” he said.  “What’s wrong?”

I showed him my unhappiness, putting on a face the gray gelding would have called “self-explanatory.”

“I understand,” replied my trainer.  “You have breakfast on your mind. I can help you with that…”

I picked up my ears and looked at him grabbing a bucket. I was excited about the power of communication between us: he had correctly read my face.

Then, the guy did something I didn’t understand: he put the bucket on my head. I stood there, waiting to feel the grains in my mouth. I’d never eaten food through my ears, but… if the trainer says I can… I’ll make it happen.

It didn’t happen this time.

I have to try harder.

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The smart fillyHumans are so different.

Since the guy left, Claire is the one who makes me trot on the circle. Everybody knows she’s not very smart. We all pay less attention to her lessons than we would to the trainer’s, but we like her because she’s so sweet and she has a soft touch.

This morning, she came right after breakfast to brush me and take me to the arena.  She brought a sack along, and she laid it on the ground in front of me. I wondered what she wanted me to do. It smelled like grains, but I’d already had my breakfast, so I didn’t care about it very much.

She wanted me to smell it again, then she started to rub it, on my flanks, my head, my back… I didn’t react, and I wished I knew what she wanted me to do.  “Good girl…” she said a couple of times, which made me even more confused: the trainer usually wanted me to move.

After a while, she dropped the sack on the ground again.

I suddenly remembered this one time with the trainer, when he put the buckets on my back to make me follow the scent of grain on the circle. How smart… how impressive!

I wanted Claire to see that I’d learned the “bucket lesson,” so I picked up the sack with my teeth and went on the circle, trotting for a lap. I stopped and looked at her to see if she got the hint.

She was standing there, without moving a muscle, looking back at me. I’m afraid she got the wrong message, because she said: “Smart girl… that’s the best sacking-out ever.”

I am still wondering what sacking out means…

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Lucy and her trainer

I’m hungry for his touch, the funny sounds he makes, his smell of horses and dogs.

I’m missing my trainer. I haven’t seen him for a while, and the wise gelding said he left.

I know, leaving is something that happens sometimes. I remember when I had to leave Oliver and Cloudy. I still miss them both. A lot.

I had to leave my mom when I was a little filly… and she had to leave me. I missed her so much.

I wonder if the trainer is missing me, too.

Missing someone is like having a great hunger, but you only want to eat a special food, not just any kind of food. I want him to enter my stall, even though I haven’t had my breakfast yet. I wouldn’t even complain about trotting around and try to figure out what he wants me to do.

I’m hungry for his touch, the funny sounds he makes, his smell of horses and dogs. I’m even hungry for his kicks to make me trot.

I’m not hungry for hay or for grains. I’m standing with my head attached to the wall, waiting for someone to give me some advice, but the guy left and the gray gelding is busy with his lunch.

Who will take care of me…scratch my back…teach me…?

Who… Claire?

I’ m hungry for him.

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sacking out

I stretched out and around, to one side and to the other. I couldn’t reach inside either of the buckets.

This morning, things moved way too fast for me. I heard the sound of breakfast falling into my neighbor’s manger, and I was so eager to get mine.

The trainer came into my stall and said, “Ready?”  He didn’t wait for my answer and didn’t care about my hunger. He took me out of the stable, put a saddle on me, and we went straight into the arena, carrying two buckets.

We worked on the circle at the line where I usually run, buck and kick, but I couldn’t enjoy it; my attention was focused on the buckets the guy had left at the entrance. I could smell the breakfast…

I started to get mad.

The trainer made me stop and took me over to the buckets. I went over there with my head down, ready to plunge it into the food, but  – you won’t believe it! – the guy attached the buckets to the saddle on my back.

I tried very hard to get the food.  I stretched out and around, to one side and to the other. I couldn’t reach inside either of the buckets.

I tried to find a way to get my breakfast, but… no way! I walked in a circle, like I was hunting my tail. Then, the guy put me back on the circle and made me run around, with my breakfast hitting my flanks.

What a feeling!

I loped and kept the buckets in my sight.  They went up and down with every step I took. I felt like they were pushing me… like I was being pushed by my breakfast. I was running in a circle that smelled like food, hungry and eager to get the grains hanging on my back. At a certain point, I ran even faster, believing I had the food in front of me.

After a while, the trainer stopped me. The buckets tied to the saddle went up and down with my flanks. The guy took the buckets off and put them on the ground. I didn’t wait another second.  I plunged my head into one of them, and… nothing! Both buckets were empty: no breakfast, no food, no grains… nothing but the smell.

The trainer patted my neck. “Great lope, Lucy, the best yet!” said the guy.  “I’ll remember that you’re at your best before breakfast.”

Oh, no… no… no…

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