My Buddy

A Horse Tale

I'm jealous. A friend of mine just bought a horse. I've wanted a horse ever since I was a little girl - just like every single other little girl I've ever known or read about. Little girls - and big girls, too - are notoriously horse crazy.

I bought a horse once. It's not a pretty story.

Back in the 70's, my (now ex-) husband and I owned a farm in Door County, Wisconsin. Eighty acres. An old farm house. A barn. An ancient but still standing log cabin. Maple woods. An apple orchard. Fields of alfalfa. Perfect for a horse.

We had chickens and geese and rabbits and goats and even a pig, but I wanted a horse. What we didn't have was enough money for a real horse, for a good horse. So I went looking for a pony. A pony for my son, Christopher, who I don't recall ever having asked for a pony. It was a couple of years before I found one I could afford.

One I could afford. My first mistake. He cost $25 in 1977 or so, and we drove him home to our farm in our Volkswagen bus. My ex-husband suggests that he never forgave us.

Buddy was a Shetland pony, who had been owned by another farm family whose children had "grown out" of it. Later on, I wondered how often different families had used that line to get rid of this little monster. If he had been passed from farm to farm, bought for other children who never wanted a pony by people who didn't necessarily want a pony and who had no idea of what to do with one.

I don't think he was mistreated. It seemed to me that he had probably never been "treated" in the first place.

I learned later that Shetlands are famously uncooperative. From the Wiki:

Shetland ponies are generally gentle, good-tempered, and very intelligent by nature. They make good children's ponies, and are sometimes noted for having a "brave" character, but can be very opinionated or "cheeky", and can be impatient, snappy, and sometimes become uncooperative. Due in part to their intelligence and size, they are easily spoiled and can be very headstrong if not well-trained.

Buddy nipped. He pushed at hands and pockets for treats. He wouldn't stand still to be bridled or saddled. He pulled at the lead rope, sometimes hard enough to pull away and run down the road. We had to chase him in the car. When anybody got on his back, he lay down and rolled over.He may have been very intelligent, but he wasn't gentle or good-tempered. He was a little asshole.

So that's what we called him. Buddy the Asshole Horse. It goes without saying that, as lousy a horse as Buddy was, we were even worse as horse people. Relegating an animal to asshole status, even in your private thoughts, is not the way to make things better. We weren't always private about it. Buddy the Asshole Horse has a starring role in the ledger of my dream-crushing failures.

We sold him, finally, for exactly what we paid for him, to a guy who said he planned to train him to pull a pony cart for children. Where or when or even if this was going to happen, I never knew. I hope it worked out. I hope this guy knew what he was about. I like to think he did.

But then, I like to think a lot of things. But I never again thought about owning a horse. Some dreams are meant to die.