Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dear Backyard Breeder

Dear Backyard Breeder,

Today we killed your pony. I thought you deserved to know, since you obviously cared so much about him that you kept him alive five years longer than he should have been, just to dump him in someone’s pasture like unwanted trash.

Five years. That’s how old the vet estimated he was. Five years of living with a deformed spine, deformed hips, brain damage and neurological deficits, all of which he was probably born with. Five years of being unable to walk properly, let alone run or buck or even easily lay down. He showed us that today when he tried desperately to lay down to nap before the vet arrived, but couldn’t bend his hind legs to allow it. I hope he was at least a cute baby, because the stallion I saw was nothing but a pain-riddled shell of what should have been a mercy-euthanasia as soon as he came out of his mom.

So tell me, what was it? I just want to know what your reasoning was to allow this sweet guy to suffer his entire life. Did you have his momma and decide it would be a lot of fun to raise a foal? Did you own the stallion and decide he needed to prove his manhood? Did your kids beg you for a baby and then get bored? Did you breed him hoping for a million-dollar baby to pay your bills for awhile? Fuck, you didn’t even geld him. I guess that vet bill was more than you budgeted for, huh?

Tonight, a friend of mine helped me adjust his body in my trailer so the backhoe operator can pull him out easily in the morning. Do you know what kind of friend says "sure" when you ask a question like that? One who has seen just as much fucked up shit as I have and knows what it does to your psyche to see this shit on a daily basis without someone to vent to. We managed to get the strap around his stiff front legs, and two 140-pound girls pulled him to the back of the trailer. His big, thick, black forelock fell over and I stared at the white star, stripe and snip for a minute and wondered why anyone would force such a cute face to be so miserable his entire life. This pony suffered for a long damn time, and you allowed it. And then you let people like us have to feel like fucking dogshit because we had to be the ones to kill him and end his pain. That pisses me off. I didn’t ask for this, I do it because I HAVE to. Because people like you keep breeding shit to shit to make more shit and then abandoning that shit and leaving it for responsible people like us to clean up. Thanks, I really had nothing better to do in my twenties.

My horses at home don’t even line up at the fences anymore when I pull in with the stock trailer to see who the new guy is. Most of the time, there’s a dead horse inside and I think they know. They don’t want to see that. Maybe they appreciate that I helped one of their own cross over to wherever it is that horses go when they leave this world. Maybe they just think I’m the fucking Grim Reaper and they’d better be on their best behavior or they’ll be in the trailer next. I don’t know.

Tomorrow, I’ll take your pony to the place where I take the rest of them. A really nice guy named John The Backhoe Guy will pull him out with the strap we put around his legs, and push him into an unmarked grave alongside all of the others. He’ll bury him, there won’t be any fanfare, no one will even know what his name was. You didn’t bother to give anyone that information when you ditched him. I might shed a tear on the way out. But make no mistake, it’s not for you. It’s not even for your pony. It’s for the fact that there will probably be another one just like him tomorrow, or the day after that. I see John The Backhoe Guy every week lately, and he tells me every time that he hates when I show up. I smile and say I hate it too, but we both know what it means: Somewhere, some asshole backyard breeder said “Hey! Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a baby horse?”

I took one last photo of your pony for you, in case you cared. I figured you might want to see what he looked like tonight. I hope it was worth it.

The Horsechick

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Pony Lady

I’ve never been accused of being the maternal type.  It’s not that I hate kids, there’s just this deep-rooted fear of the unknown and convincing me to babysit is like trying to baptize a cat. There’s usually a lot of yowling, some cussing, the claws come out and I usually get my way.

I don’t fear all young humans, just any under the age of two, and those from the age of five to about nine. The little ones cry and puke and shit all over and are essentially zero fun, and the bigger ones ask too may questions that aren’t satisfied with an equally-puzzled-sounding “You know, I really don’t know….maybe we should ask your mom?”. Any human over nine (and of the female variety) generally thinks I’m pretty damned cool, and until they hit about eighteen, they’re nearly tolerable. Once they hit eighteen, I’m not nearly as cool as they previously thought I was, and once I hit my thirties, I can probably kiss that little window of awesomeness goodbye as well. 

This is why I will never have kids.

Right now, I am the coolest person in the world to a decent number of the pre and mid-teenagers that I know. And, according to my buddy’s two year old, I’m pretty awesome. He doesn’t really say it like that, but I get shown a lot of toy dump trucks, bulldozers and jeeps, so that must account for something. Also, he hasn’t thrown up or shit on me. That means they like you, right?

Anyway, I know, deep down, that the single, solitary reason I am considered cool to most of the female juvenile humans I know is simple: I have ponies.

When I show up at the training barn with a load of horses and ponies for “Let’s see if this one has any natural talent”-day, there is generally a small herd of girls waiting outside my trailer to take lead ropes before I even get the truck in park. I pull in, and I instantly go from that same social-nobody that I was in high school (and never really outgrew) into a popularity queen that could rival Taylor Swift. Pat says there’s no way this is good for my ego and claims that I may be a narcissist. He’s probably right, but for the meantime, fuck it. I am awesome. I am somebody. I'm like Santa, but much better-looking in breeches. I am… The Pony Lady.

I’ve always been able to lean on the possession of the horses as an ice breaker when it comes to kids. It doesn’t matter who they are, whether they talk much or not, there’s something about horses that has always been able to bring out the chattiness in a kid. I instantly score points when I can pull one out by the halter for them to pet, and as any horse owner knows, being responsible for that first horse-petting or riding experience can get filed into their little brains as one of those memories they’ll have for a lifetime. I try my best to make it a good one.

I even have the fluffy little lard-roll of a Corgi to lend herself to the kids’ memories of how great it is at Uncle Pat's house (and consequently, how great I am). Even kids terrified of dogs have a hard time being afraid of 35 pounds of fat and 5 pounds of fluffy white fur on four-inch legs. She’s a good ice-breaker, and if her presence can help one terrified kid overcome their fear of dogs, then she’s done her job (yet again).  I love the little fat tard.

Anyway, when Pat told me that some of his siblings would be bringing their spouses and respective kids over to see the house and meet the animals, I looked at him like he was nuts.  Of course, I had the obligatory panic attack and cleaned the house, but I knew we didn’t have anything here that any of his nieces or nephews would want to play with (all under 12, I believe, and half of which are in that “over 5 and consequently terrifying” range), and it’s cold outside. They were going to be bored, plain and simple. Bored kids get into trouble.

But, I have secret kid-friendly weapons. I have the horses. And the dogs. Well, at least one dog, anyway. The 125-pound Bulldog was not going to be making an appearance, since we weren’t positive how he’d handle little kids. He’s been good in the past with one at a time, but a houseful? The last thing I needed was a kid getting bit that I’d eventually be related to. That might put a damper on the engagement…

So the families showed up, Buford was in his cage, and I really thought we’d be okay. I honestly did. Until the 35-pound fluffy white loves-everyone-and-would-never-ever-hurt-a-kid-even-if-they-smelled-like-cheese dog waddled up to the first kid.

Cue blood-curdling scream...

Now, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what is threatening about a fat little dog with gigantic, pointy ears and no legs. I’ve tried looking at this from every angle possible, and I just can’t figure it out. But I do know one thing, I’ve never seen a little human climb to the top of a couch faster than that girl moved. I didn’t even know they could move that fast! Whole new reason to not want kids of my own: I’ll never own something I can’t catch with grain or peanut butter. It was astounding.

The scream of course set Buford into SOMEONE IS DYING,  I MUST ATTACK THIS THREAT AND DEFEND EVERYTHINGGGGG!!!!-mode, which, I’ll admit, is terrifying to listen to, whether you live with this dog or not. There’s a reason he’s referred to as the home-security system. No one in their right mind would cross his path to break into this house. This set the rest of the kids off into a screaming/yelling/shrieking fit, because there’s nothing remotely unterrifying about 125-pounds trying to protect his family from something he can’t see from his crate. 

So at this point, I now have Buford, who is trying to bark the door of his cage open, ShortDog, who REALLY just wants one of these damned kids to rub her belly, so she’s waddling around from one to the other to the other, which makes the kids ALL leap onto the couches to get away from her, all while shrieking in ear-piercing octaves I didn’t know any human aside from Mariah Carey was capable of reaching. And their respective parental units trying to talk over the screams to ask the kids to stop. And Pat yelling at Buford for yelling at everything.

This is why I will never have kids.

So after trying unsuccessfully to calm the clusterfuck down, we ended up outside to see the horsies, because horsies are cool, and I’ve never heard one growl or bark. Buford is still in the house in his crate, pissed off as ever, and ShortDog got locked inside as well to hopefully prevent me experiencing another ruptured eardrum.

At this point, I’ve struck out on the cute, furry puppy thing. Who the hell knew the kids were going to be piss-themselves-terrified of ShortDog?! Seriously, she looks like a fat bunny rabbit, how is that terrifying?! Whatever. Perhaps we’ll have better luck with Tyler. He’s cute, he’s chestnut and has perfectly-matching white legs and a big blaze, and he’s finally done humping everything in sight, thanks to that extra surgery last summer. He’s the shortest, least-intimidating horse I’ve got in the field right now, and I know him well enough to know that he gives absolutely zero fucks about anything and will stand quietly until the kids are done molesting him.

Tyler gets pulled out. Tyler is not amused, but Tyler does nothing except yawn and drop his head for the nose-petting he knows is coming. This is nothing new for him.

Cue blood-curdling screams…


And then it hits me: I am no longer cool. I am no longer the awesome Aunt-To-Be. I am still The Pony Lady, and that has just become a negative thing. I have struck out on not only the fluffy white puppydog, but the adorable kid-friendly pony as well. I am out of tricks, my bag is empty. I have no idea how to relate to these kids, they have turned from exciting prospects of new fans, to little Martian creatures that I do not understand. I don’t watch cartoons, I have no idea what to talk to them about. I put Tyler away, completely defeated, and I head back to the barn.

The kids spent the remainder of the visit running up and down the hill of the driveway in some sort of strange variation of tag. In the cold. Completely and thoroughly enjoying themselves away from the child-eating dogs and horses. They have no idea what they’ve done to my fragile ego. They are happy. They are free.

And I am the very uncool Pony Lady.

This is why I will never have kids.