A Horse Walked Into a Bar

(c) Lynne Glazer

(c) Lynne Glazer

Whenever horse people get together, they inevitably and naturally talk horses. Almost always, after the veterinary disasters and the training tips, conversation turns to Funny Things My Horse Did.

Horses have a sense of humor. “Horselaugh” isn’t just a metaphor. The photo here? He does that All. The. Time. He also surgically removes his shoes using fence wire and just the right degree of twist, unties your shoes, and picks your pocket while you’re distracted.

And yes, he’s aware of the effect he’s creating. See the big black 100-gallon tub he tipped over before he experimented with weaving himself through the fence bars? One fine day while we were having a riding clinic here, he wasn’t getting enough attention, in his estimation. He’d taken his shoes off (which meant he wasn’t in the clinic–bad planning there) and the gate wasn’t opening for anything he could do (we have Evil-Proof Gates here). He considered the options, and selected “Insert Both Front Legs in Large Black Tub.”

Everyone came running, except me. I was busy at the time. There was much consternation. “He’s stuck! How can we get him out? What can we do?”

This went on for some time. Eventually I came by. He was standing there, the center of attention, as happy as a horse can be. Everyone converged on me. “How are we going to get him out? Will we have to cut the tub apart?”

I gave him the Eye. He gave me Innocence Personified. And quite calmly, leg by leg, removed himself from the tub.

“He does that all the time, ” I said.

Along with many other things. Once when he was a baby, ‘way too young to ride, he was all alone in the stalls while the rest of the horses were busy giving riding lessons. That was Not To Be Borne. So there we were, doing our figures and practicing our dressage, when suddenly we heard a musical clangor: WHANGA WHANGA WHANGA!

He had found a leadrope within reach (i.e. within ten feet of any fence he could squeeze up against). It was a bungee, what was more, with a heavy netal snap on one end and a velcro fastener on the other. He was striding up and down the stall with the leadrope in his teeth, swinging the metal end against the pipe bars.

A moment later, we heard a variation: thunka thunka thunka!

He had reversed the rope so that the velcro end was doing the business instead.

By that time lessons had ground to a halt. He rolled an eye at us. And then came the rest of the symphony: WHANGA thunka WHANGA thunka WHANGA WHANGA WHANGA thunka thunka thunka!

That was it, lessons were over. We were rolling in the aisles.

It’s not just Evil Geldings, either.

(c) Lynne Glazer

(c) Lynne Glazer

This one? Staged. The first time, it was his idea. He then obliged the photographer for numerous takes. And no, that’s not a llama. That’s a royal Lipizzaner stallion to you, sir. You see the worshipper? That’s his entourage. He never travels without one.

We now open the comments to the Silly Horse Stories Brigade. We are legion, and horses are universally and wonderfully silly.

(c) Lynne Glazer

(c) Lynne Glazer


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A Horse Walked Into a Bar — 14 Comments

  1. My own horse isn’t silly so much as sedate and serene — lord knows I wish I could catch her in a silly moment, but she’s generally Terribly Dignified. But I did used to work for a large horse rescue operation where we had a cast of deeply and profoundly ridiculous characters. We specialized in wild horses, but also had a number of PMU drafts, which were the bane of the ranch foreman’s existence, because they just destroyed everything, and mostly for fun. One day I was passing by the gelding pen where a few of these giant-sized miscreants were cooling their heels, and where the ranch foreman had just finished laboriously scrubbing out their stock tank, with the close supervision of the horses. (The foreman had learned to be cautious: on a previous occasion while he’d been bent over scrubbing the algae out, a couple of the horses had tried to push him in.) I stopped to talk to the foreman outside the pen for a moment, and we watched as one of the drafts, a big gray Percheron named Dually, came up to inspect the sparkling clean water tank. He waited until the automatic waterer had completely filled the tank, then he looked at us, then he very deliberately put his front feet into the tank, one at a time, and began paddling and splashing away like a five-year-old in the kiddie pool. Pretty soon he was drenched, as was anything else within ten feet — the foreman and I had run for cover — and the stock tank was empty. Dually removed himself from the stock tank with great dignity, flopped down into the sand and wallowed with great pleasure until he was absolutely covered in mud, waited for the stock tank to fill again, and then immersed himself for another bath/one-horse-water-fight, this time with considerably dirtier water. The foreman stormed off with his hands up, but Dually was having a great time. I don’t know what it is about those drafts, but they’re like the labradors of the horse world… it was impossible to ever pry them out of the water tanks. ;D

  2. The problem with my horse was that he made me laugh. This is a problem when ‘don’t you *dare* do that again!!!’ morphs into ‘oh, dear’ <giggle> C’me here, you’ <hands out scritchies and treats to innocent horse>

  3. Funny stories, let’s see…

    My boy once discovered that while I was bent over picking out his right front foot, he could verrrrry delicately take the belt loop at the small of my back between his teeth, stretch the waistband of my breeches out, and let go. He especially enjoyed my yelp when the elastic snapped back against my skin. He did this for a while, until we finally had the come-to-Jesus talk after he took skin with the belt loop.

    I once left a plastic bottle of molasses juuuuuust out of his reach from where he was standing in his stall. He stretched, stretched, and using prehensile lips, snatched the top of the bottle into his mouth. I came back – not ten seconds after leaving – to find half the bottle in his mouth as he stuck his head straight in the air, trying to shake the molasses directly down his throat. I grabbed the end of the bottle, he clamped his teeth down, we engaged in a few seconds of tug-of-war until he abruptly let go. I went flying backward, and molasses went EVERYWHERE. Which he thought was just fantastic, and might have been his goal all along.

  4. The most recent silly horse tale concerns my Mom’s gelding, Beau. Beau is 24 years old, which is established senior-horsedom age. But don’t tell Beau that, because for Beau, life is FUN!

    Last week, on a hot and sunny day, Mom decided to give Beau his annual bath, and I helped. Now, Beau adores water. Hoses are GREAT gobs of fun to be sprayed by and to drink out of, so bathing is one of his favorite things. We had sprayed him down, and shampooed him, and we were starting to rinse the soap off when he stuck his nose quite purposefully in the stream of the hose. He had a drink, then he started to play with his nose in the water.

    As soon as he had very nonchalantly sprayed mom and I (pretty much simultaneously) he lifted his head in a horse laugh that rivals Pooka’s in the photo above. We were NOT wet by accident, quite clearly, and Beau thought it was all great fun ;).

  5. I used to work at a summer camp. My tent was 5 feet away from the corral fence with our 15 horses on the other side. One night I woke up to a really weird noise in the corral. I put on my boots and climbed over the fence in my PJs. I searched through the corral in the dark, trying to figure out the source. One of the horses was stretched out on her side asleep and snoring. Worried something horrible was wrong I whispered at her, “Cassidy! Cassidy! Wake up!” I touched her and her head snapped up and she gave me the “I was having a great dream about carrots and large green pastures, why in heavens did you wake me up?” look. I chuckled as I climbed back over the fence. I heard her nighttime serenade quite a few times that summer.

    A few years later a friend of mine was at another camp and Cassidy was there. I’d told her the tale of the snoring and she didn’t believe me, until she went to the corral early one morning and there was Cassidy, stretched out and snoring.

  6. Also, an addendum! Many of the stories here seem to be about the Boyz, but the Girlz have a rather wicked sense of humor, too ;).

    My TWH filly (now mare) JJ loves to play in the bathtub, just like Mackenzie’s PMU geldings. And she has always enjoyed untying shoe laces. She and her aunt Shaughessy like to nose my pockets for treats, and then look hurt and neglected when I don’t provide for them, and/or mention that space and manners are nice….

    and JJ’s mom Juno likes to toss the feed bins around. We have those big truck tires, with plywood in the bottom, and she just picks them up and tosses them out of the way to check for hay bits that have fallen down underneath. One summer, Juno went up to a friend’s place to be a clinic horse for them. They have similar, though even heavier, feeders. R said she had never seen the feeder move so much – in the shelter/out of the shelter/around the pen.

  7. My mare tends to be a Serious Girl, for the most part (cowhorse breeding tends to do that) but some of my other horse experiences have been entertaining.

    One old jumper schoolie, Porsche, an ancient Appaloosa mare, had a number of tricks up her hoof. We were cruising on a hillside when she stumbled near the edge. I flinched. For the rest of the ride, I was treated to fake stumbles just right there on the edge and then a half turn of the head to observe the impact.

    The joke was also on Porsche once. For some reason the brush boxes had been moved around in the arena and lay on their sides instead of upright, under the jump. Porsche eyeballed them, and then it was spook, brace, snort, OH MI GHOD IT EATS HORSES. Then we got to the boxes. She sniffed them. Snorted disgustedly, then stalked off and ignored them for the rest of the lesson.

    M & M, a former Western Pleasure World Champion, was quite the jokester. He’d pull faces and bully less savvy handlers, then straighten up when a more skilled handler came around. One of his favorite tricks was to pull away after being lunged to warm up (he had navicular so we tried to warm him up in the winter). He was also notorious for letting himself out of his stall, then marching up and down the alleyways turning on the waters in all the other stalls, plus letting his favorite buddies out to join him in the party.

    My Shetland, Windy, liked playing various jokes. He got mad when we were paying more attention to a cat while picking berries in the horse field, and picked the cat up by the tail, then dropped the cat. Cat left us alone in the horse field after that.

    My old Quarter Horse mare, Sparkle, hated the show ring. The last time I took her in for Showmanship (a halter skills class), every time I looked away from her, her head would go down, she’d go hipshot, and pull a perfect “End of the Trail” imitation. Sparkle also loved to slobber all over you after burying her nose in the water up to her eyes. She’d untie ropes, take jackets and spread them out on the ground, and even did that to a fresh deer hide. We had to put chains and locks on all the gates because she would otherwise figure out how to open the latches.

    Another schoolie, a gray TB whose name now escapes me, loved to play the Tongue game. He’d hang his head over the stall door, tongue hanging out until someone would grab it and pull it a little. Then he’d lift his head, loll the tongue all around, then reassume the position.

    Then there was the Lipizzan-QH cross at a lesson barn in Florida. I never experienced this, but I was told how, if your leg was too strong, she would stop, reach around, grab the toe of your boot, and yank it off of her side. I believe it. She was a very smart and extremely opinionated mare. The instructor told me I was clearly using good tact with her, and light hands and legs, as she would otherwise show her objection to heavy aids by spooking, escalating from easy spooks to big spooks.

  8. I think we need a blog on Opinionated mares. 🙂

    My Girlz love to play in water, and will grab the hose and spray themselves if I let them. They all ask me to use the hose like a WaterPik and spray their teeth and tongues. The most fun there, of course, is spraying everybody else, including me. One mare will strrrrrretch her tongue out and let it get all pointy, then ask me to aim the spray directly onto it. Another has a prehensile tongue and can roll it up both lenghwise and widthwise, and will put it through all kinds of contortions after she’s been fed a treat.

    My stallion has The Tongue. That’s his nibs in the photo above. Tongue out is his smile. It’s a great honor to be asked to pull on it. He’s so noble, with that big white neck and that classic profile…and the pink tongue flopping out the side.

  9. Yes, yes, a blog on Opinionated Mares would be good!

    (and why don’t we see enough of them in stories? All about the stallions, when the Opinionated Alpha Mare is really the one in charge! I do have a fantasy novel I’m flogging which has an Opinionated Mare whose mental imagery when annoyed involves piles of buffalo dung on whatever has annoyed her.)

  10. We’ve had some characters over the years at the riding school where I take lessons. Two of my current favourites are Murphy, a piebald Irish mix of some sort, and Heddvig, a Swedish draft horse who looks a bit like a shorter, stockier Friesian.

    The Irish mix, a gelding, has been known to get his nextdoor neighbours to help him out of his halter at night on a few occasions. One time our instructor arrived at the stables in the morning and found water seeping out of the front door.

    During the night he had pulled down the blankets hung at the side of each stall and dragged these into a big pile in the middle of the stable. He’d clearly rested there, but also left a few “presents” on the pile. Oh, and he’d broken one of the automated watering thingies, hence the slight case of flooding.

    There is now protection up on the side of his stall, to keep his neighbours from sticking their heads in.

    The Swedish draft horse is a mare of many, many opinions. The school is leasing her from a family that wasn’t able to keep her right now, and when she first arrived she was very over-weight and not in good shape.

    The second time I rode her she had only been with us for a month or so. She had been fine the first time, but this lesson she started bucking as soon as I got on her. She’d walk a few steps, then buck. A few steps, and a buck. So … we figured maybe something was wrong with her. I got off, and she looked much happier, but everything was alright with the saddle. I ran her a bit, and my instructor thought that maybe she was a little stiff in a hindleg.

    So, we took her up to the stables. Next day, I called to see what was up with her…and it turned out to be exactly nothing at all. It seems she just decided she wasn’t keen on a lesson right then.

  11. Anybody who thinks horses don’t weigh in on whether and how they want to be ridden, isn’t paying attention. Right, everybody?

    Love the horse who rearranged his nighttime accommodations. That was very enterprising of him.

    I’ve come out into the turnout and found arena-marker cones lined up in a row, hay barrels in a pentagram, ground poles shifted into new patterns–clearly they’re sending a message to the Mother Ship, and/or working spells. I’ve learned not to ask too many questions.

  12. While my pony Bartholomew was staying at a local barn with several other ponies nearby, the owners began to find that overnight, all the ponies on that side of the barn would mysteriously escape from their stalls and get into the hay. In an effort to unravel the mystery, the kids and some friends camped out in the hayloft overnight.

    When all was quiet, the kids were awoken by a commotion — the ponies were indeed getting out again. They peered down over the edge of the hayloft, and found that my pony had undone his own stall latch and was going to each of the other stalls to let out all his buddies.

    He must have suspected that something was up, however, because he then went back into his own stall and swung the door shut. When the kids came down to get the ponies back in their stalls, Bart was clearly the innocent party, right in his stall where he belonged — only he couldn’t close the latch.

    Busted!

  13. A friend’s cavalry re-enactment horse used to sleep on his back in the middle of the night. He’d only do it on the picket line in the field, never when training others to picket, so we could only figure he’d do it to watch the ruckus when the midnight shift (always a new recruit) would think he was dead….

    Another friend’s horse puts her head down for a particularly plump hen to jump on, lifts her up to the rafters to nest for the night, then brings her down again in the morning.

    My mare way back in high school would show off to the pretty horse in the mirror, but refused to step on the horse reflected back in the wet asphalt. My sister’s mare looked behind the mirror to see if a horse was really there, realized there wasn’t, and never noticed a mirror again.