There are generally two kinds of horses: the stoic horses – who will bear the pain of the universe before telling you something is wrong – and the kind who are full of so much drama that they should be their own one-horse Broadway show. Each type has their own drawbacks and benefits. Or, “benefits,” really.
The stoic horse is probably a Monty Python fan. He will often come sauntering in from the paddock with a chunk of flesh the size of a grapefruit missing, ambling slowly without a care in the world. All as if to casually say, “’Tis but a scratch! It’s just a flesh wound.” With blood dripping from his hindquarters and a two-foot-long tree branch lodged in his side, his only worry is food, naturally.
Stoic Horse: “Excuse me, but where’s my breakfast?”
Person: “OH MY GOD, WHAT DID YOU DO? HOW DID YOU DO THIS? WHY ARE YOU NOT DEAD?”
Stoic Horse: “Yeah, but where’s my breakfast? Can we settle these questions later? Priorities.”
Person: “Priorities?! Dude, how do you have any blood left? I’m calling the vet right now.”
Stoic Horse: “But….breakfast? I’ll just wait here.”
And if the stoic horse isn’t busy pretending he hasn’t just been impaled, he’s busy trying to cover up his other discomforts and internal soft-tissue injuries. Then he breaks down seemingly out of nowhere, or a vet or other professional discovers the problem accidentally. These kinds of horses have the ability to inflict guilt more than the entirety of the Catholic church. Or maybe your mother.
Maybe his saddle fits so horrendously that it’s caused nerve and vertebrae damage. Or it turns out he has the worst case of kissing spine or laminitis ever – so bad that the vet says retirement is a big possibility. Meanwhile, Stoic Horse has been seemingly happily working, and you’ve been oblivious to his issues.
Person: “Buddy, why didn’t you say something? I feel horrible.”
Stoic Horse: “I didn’t want to upset you. You’re so nice to me.”
Person: “But you’re in so much pain!”
Stoic Horse: “Oh, it’s not so bad. Do you want to go jump some more? It’s no bother, really. I love jumping.”
Person: “You’re crazy. No.”
And while Stoic Horse makes it difficult for you to ever know if something is going wrong, Dramatic Horse will ALWAYS let you know. He will also let you know if there is NOT something going on (but he thinks there is). He makes a habit of coming in from the pasture with something clearly but ambiguously wrong.
Dramatic Horse: “I am dying.”
Person: “What’s wrong with your leg? Let me take a look.”
Dramatic Horse: “I told you, I am dying. Done for. Expiring. This horse is no more.”
Person: “Looks like you have a tiny little scratch, but doesn’t look like anything else.”
Dramatic Horse: “No, I told you, I am dying. Like, any minute now.”
Person: “Oh good gosh, calm yourself.”
Dramatic Horse: “CAN’T. BUSY DYING. Also, my lawyer is going to have some questions for you.”
Then there are those who are drama llamas about tack. You get a new saddle, and the fitter said it’s nearly perfect. At the next fitting, flocking will be adjusted a tiny bit, and all will be good. But your horse has other ideas.
Drama Llama: “I CAN’T WORK LIKE THIS.”
Person: “Whatever is your problem? Stop that ear-pinning and bucking nonsense.”
Drama Llama: “No. This saddle is precisely half a millimeter off, and it’s a game changer in the worst way. I can’t with this. Just can’t.”
Person: “You really are being ridiculous.”
Drama Llama: “I’m calling my union rep.”
So if you have a stoic horse, you’ll never know there’s something wrong, and if you have the dramatic kind, you’ll know every minute detail of bother, whether you want to or not. And if you’re one of the five people to have a “normal” horse (do they really exist?), congratulations.
Now excuse me while I go groom my horse with a brush made of the virginal tail fur of hand-raised bunnies. He picked it out himself.