Horses and Smarts

Arian Knops

Horses and Smarts

3 mins
June 15, 2021

There are some things we are not supposed to know about animals. Some of that may be because God has a sense of humor, and some of that lack of knowledge is because the animals are actually smarter than us. I think the latter is often times correct and I’m also not one to question the reasons for God’s sense of humor, so I’ll focus on the animal intelligence aspect.

Horses, one of my least favorite animals will be the subject of this story. That clodhopping sect of animalism seems to hate me. No, not seems to, they actually do hate me. But, foolish me, has allowed those creatures into my life when common sense said I should have veered another direction.

It was sometime in the mid 1960s, I was in the military, young and horny. Being a descendent of a number of nationalities, I was your basic human mutt and far from the best-looking person on the face of the Earth.  My pal Ted was of Greek lineage on both sides and matinee idol movie star handsome. Ted had a car, but his license was in constant jeopardy, so he tended to get someone else to drive on nights he decided to party like a peach orchard boar.

The plus to driving for Ted was that his girlfriend on any given day or evening usually had a friend along as a chaperone. Maybe the locals had heard about the libidos of Greek men. And all of his girlfriends I met had been somewhere above beautiful.

One Sunday morning Ted asked me if I’d like to go bareback riding with him, his girlfriend and the girlfriend’s friend. I questioned myself if I should do such a thing since horses hated me and told Ted I’d go only if I could use the oldest, mangiest, swaybacked animal the place had, you know, like the one that was four heartbeats and two steps away from the rendering works.  He thought that could be arranged.

On arrival at the horse stable the girls and Ted picked out fine looking animals and I opted for the one with the gimpy leg that was leaning against the barn attempting to cough up a lung.

I might kill this thing if I ride it,” I told the owner of the animal.

That’s okay,” he said, “she’s passed through death door, but just doesn’t know it yet. She’s just too stupid to keel over.”  She sounded like the perfect animal for me. And she was. For the first three hundred feet or so. Then, God, with his sense of humor, decided to give the old nag the chance to terrorize a human being, me, one last time.

She must have thought she was at the starting gate at Churchill Downs as she dashed for an imaginary finish line that was some two-hundred feet into a Mississippi swamp and then stopped. Pulling on the reins didn’t help, kicking her in her aged and more than likely arthritic ribs did less and swearing didn’t work at all.  She just stood there.

So, I did the illogical thing and got off in a swamp that was home to snakes, lizards and who knows what other venomous creatures.  The horse took off like a shot for the nearest shore with her untended reins flapping in the breeze.  I will tell you there is nothing less thrilling than standing waist deep in a Mississippi swamp on a warm Sunday afternoon.

Slowly and cautiously, I made my way to shore where my three compadres were having a great laugh at my expense. The owner of the horses had my steed held in check by the reins and the animal, who wouldn’t even look at me, was munching on some grass. The man offered another horse. I said no.

As my three friends continued their enjoyable afternoon of riding, I made it back to the barn where I washed off my muck covered clothing, legs and shoes. There is nothing like ice cold water to clean your shorts, legs and to cool your libido.

Seriously young man,” the owner said, “she’s never done anything like that before. I tell you what, I’ll give you your money back and while your friends are out riding why don’t you just sit here in the Sun and dry off and have a beer.”

The beer brand was Dixie, one of the worst beers on Earth, and it was warm.

This article was orginally reported by
Arian Knops

Arian is a short story contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News. Arian has written two full-length thrillers which have received critical and popular acclaim. Arian lives in Bruce, WI, with his charming wife, Arlene.