Horsin' Around: Finding the right direction

I have often been told that I went about the things that I did incorrectly. In the bad old days, for instance, I did not go to specific trainers or teachers to learn about horses. I went to horses to learn about horses. According to many people this was considered to be an erroneous approach to the business of learning about horses. For instance, when others were discussing their trainers or instructors I had very little to say. How can you complain about your instruction when you get it from an expert? Actually, THE expert.

Not only did I learn about horses that way, I learned about myself. Scientists have told us for quite some time that the connective tissue between the lobes of a horse's brain is not conducive to trading information from one side to the other. Thus, when you have shown a possibly frightening thing to the horse's left eye and he has learned that it is indeed not frightening, the turn-around trip to show it to the horse's right eye sometimes has rather surprisingly athletic results. This can be discomfiting — not to say painful — to those who are not prepared for it.

Understanding that helped me to deal with my deep-rooted dyslexic problems. I am not only left-handed but also virtually left-headed. Even at my age, I still have so many problems with that right and left business that I basically have two directions, one of which is “left” and the other of which is known to my friends as “the other left.” Everyone probably knows someone like me and has had to deal with this syndrome. Hint: yelling at us doesn’t help at all.

No one will be surprised to know that I am one of those people who find my way by landmarks instead of directions. It can be something as obvious as a sign that says, "Turn Here" or something as subtle as a row of hills that I recognize off in the distance. Myself, I prefer the row of hills to the sign; you can take down a sign but that row of hills is going to be difficult to dispose of.

Horses have an innate sense of direction as well. If you have ever been lost on a trail ride you know that, if you just drop the reins on the oldest horse present, that horse will take you right back to the farm. You don't want to do that on the youngest horse which might still be curious enough to wish to see what's over the next hill.

That decision could result in disaster or at least distance — quite a bit of distance depending on the trail that your horse finds. After all, you are already lost and there is no need to compound the amount of your misplacement.

No, you let that oldest horse have his head (a phrase which probably originated with horses, by the way) and he will have you back home at a brisk walk in plenty of time to feed him his dinner right on time. Old horses have been in the army. They will go along under a firm commander but they don't volunteer for nuthin' including trail rides that are longer than they consider necessary.

I am going to veer off the trail here for a few sentences. Probably some readers would have liked to have known what I thought of California Chrome's chances for a Triple Crown victory. (The Belmont Stakes was contested on Saturday). Some might wonder why I did no address that issue.

The fact is, I wouldn't address that question even in my own mind.

I really like that horse. He is a laid-back, intelligent, uber-athlete and he is a good looking horse as well. I love that his owners and trainers have shown such insouciance in the naming of their corporation. It smacks of the good old American blue collar attitude which has served us so well over the years before we became so serious about ourselves and it amuses me too. "Hey, buddy, here's one in your eye for that high-class attitude you're trying to put over on us!" My kind of people, you betcha.

Even his jockey is a man who can joke about wearing those silks after being bucked off donkeys as a child. What's not to like?

There is not one thing not to like and I wish that I could acknowledge that but I am a bred-in-the-bone horse person and like so many of my kind I am superstitious. Nothing in this world comes without a price.

So I planned to say my prayers, hold my breath and hope. Just that much. Hope that for once for such nice people and their horse this is something that can happen without the price being just too high.

Wouldn't that be wonderful?