April isn’t just for fools, or a horse in hand is worth two in the field

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

Folks, this one makes me laugh every time:

April Fool’s is always a good time for pranks and jokes. Here’s having a little fun with our fellow Horsemen, and we’re not just trying to sell you our half of the Pymatuning Causeway...

There is a certain amount of finesse required when speaking to a Horseman; understanding one in conversation requires a degree in Foreign Language.

Your hearing is fine, so cupping your hand behind your ear and squinting will not decipher the code any easier.

Tipping your Stetson back a little further and saying, "Yup," now and then can give the illusion that you’re keeping up.

Staring blankly with a slack jaw is considered rude and the cowboy with whom you are conversing might think that you’ve had a horseshoe lobotomy, due to working that "Impressive" gelding (1) the other day.

See if you can translate these into the Queen’s English; this is Cowboy Vernacular at its finest:

"That Mayor just keeps getting loose on me; I better fix that fence."

Does this mean somebody’s small town has a renegade public official on their hands?

Or, " That Mayor is eating real good, she’ll have a healthy Fo on the ground real soon." That same town sounds like it could have a real problem on their hands, but that cowboy was smiling when he said it.

Actually seen in newspaper ads recently: "For Sale: Dabble Grey Gilding. Gated."

Does this mean he only rides smooth when behind the pasture fence?

Somebody tell me what this is: "Tobianero Philly. Will be Gated when mature at 15.5HH" - She sounds like an oversized ball player living in an exclusive community.

Try to figure this one out, look closely, now: "For Sale: Bilgium Gilding. Good Confirmation." Has a Flemish Bishop been by the barn to confirm the conformation? Is this horse Godly, or is he just a big honkin’ Catholic?

Stay away from this one: "To a good home, older Gilding. Companion only, has Vehicular."

It’s almost as bad as the one with Flounder. Are fish driving cars, or do these horses have hoof problems?

This one is scary, because she belongs to me: "For Lease: Plaudit Mare. Bathes-Clips-Loads. No brakes. Doesn’t steer too good, either. Supple."

What I’m really saying is, "For experienced rider."

Supple means she’s capable of such bucking good gymnastics while coming down the rail, it would make Mary Lou Retton turn green with envy.

You’ll be fine if you can stick and ride it out. If not, you could wind up eating the corral footing and looking like you’re filming an ad for a hemorrhoid commercial.

You’ll be fine once you hook up to a morphine drip.

The following occurred last summer, and those of you who saw me walking around with socks on my hands knew I wasn’t practicing to be the Mummy for Costume Class at Fair.

An event like this can be funny, but only when it happens to someone else:

My Grade American Shetland Pony, "Levi," was truly living up to his nickname of "Weasel Boy."

I thought I would give him a harness driving tune-up, sans gloves, by hooking him to just a single-tree and ground driving him around the barnyard.

Things were going great until we bumped it up to a slow jog.

Heading around the long side of the yard, Weasel Boy decided he’d had enough, and took one giant leap forward, without so much as a "Mother, may I?"

Hanging on to the lines and digging my cowboy boots in, I made a beautiful arc-dive that would do any pro-swimmer proud, doing the old snake-in-the-grass-slide for a good eight feet before coming to a rest in a tangled heap of grass, dust and gear.

Have you ever heard of a single-tree lobotomy?

First there was one pony, now there were two, now back to one...

The #1 no-no in ground driving is allowing the animal to turn around and make eye contact with you while in harness and blinkers.

The humiliation was complete when he actually stepped toward me, looked down and said, "You know, if you’d quit hanging up on my mouth..."

The next scene looked like an old, black and white vaudville rendition of a Chaplan-esque silent film, complete with a jerky-motion starlet.

As I gathered my lines and scathed body up, admiring the new shade of green on my duds, the Weasel took off again, single tree in tow.

This time, the lines ripped through my hands like a flying fishing string, with the big one racing away on the other end, giving me the Queen Mother of all rope burns.

No, I’m not raising coyote puppies, ya’ll, that howl was me.

I guess this pony thought he was Sputnik, because he began to orbit the barn better and faster than any modern day satellite.

Two other ponies that had been quietly grazing nearby suddenly looked up with growing interest on about his fourth pass around. (2)

Their crinkle-browed concern at the single-tree and lines stuck to their poor buddy like a hay-stealing monster, followed by a silent film zombie, complete with Sleestak hands, (3) faded into looks of, "Hey, we’ll help!" and they promptly joined the foray.

The Roman Legions would have been mighty jealous of the speed and formation of this trio.


Rounding the second corner of the barn, one of them decided that this was far too much work, and ended the make-shift unicorn hitch by pealing off and going back to grazing.

But the other two were just getting started...

Isn’t it amazing how equine go to such lengths and tactics to get out of work, when you weren’t about to ask them for even 1/4 of that amount, in the first place?

Round and round they go, where they stop, nobody knows.

Long about that time, the two renegades noticed the bridle path along the trees, and thought the scenic route might be a nice addition to their speedy little adventure.

Since silent movie stars can’t run that fast, and everyone knows the true goal of all runaways is to get back to the barn, I decided to take that little opportunity to rest my aching legs and silently scream obscenities into my curled-up, rope-scalded hands.

Even Boris Karloff sat up and took notice.

I was still crying for my Mama when the galloping duo did a perfect U-turn at the top of the hill and came flying back down the trail.

Barnum and Bailey’s Liberty Ponies had nothing on this pair, and right about the time they passed the outside center of my Father’s immaculate vegetable garden, they decided a short cut to the barn was in their best interest, and ploughed straight through the big ol’ middle of it.

The trick ponies jumped the fence in perfect unison, and the trace hooks from the single-tree caught perfectly on the chicken wire fence surrounding all the lovely vegetables.

The one now known as the "Devil Incarnate," began to drag all that along, too.

After they took out the entire green bean patch, four pepper plants and two whole rows of corn, they leaped over the opposite side of the fence, the trace hooks catching on that part, also, making for a very colorful and entertaining haul.

With corn stalks, fence, dirt and bean plants flying, one could only pause and stare at the spectacle as it swept past.

The traces gave out just then, leaving a debris field 35 feet long, and old Sputnik was then free to continue his orbit around the barn, his Shetland pony buddy flying wing.

The two were in their glory then, and they really kicked it into 5th gear like a couple of drag racers, proceeding to exit stage left into the open field, 100 yards away.

It was here that the horse gods finally took mercy on me, guiding the wayward missiles into a pasture where the gate had been left open.

As I finally took hold of the blinker bridle, I noticed a dark, burgeoning mushroom cloud gathering in the West above the house, as my Father began to surmise all the damage to his beautiful vegetable garden.

The chickens had also discovered what happened and began a field day of cleaning up the remains of all the produce.

I was fine after taking care of the internal bleeding and sore muscles, although my hands had to wrapped in gauze and I couldn’t walk for a week.

I really was a silent film star, having to be carried everywhere, Princess-style.

As for the ponies, they are excitedly awaiting the arrival of the HeeHaw film crew to begin shooting an episode of the show here at our farm in Espyville.

Now, about my half of that Pymatuning Causeway...

Folks, it has, indeed, been real.

Leaving you to ponder the finer points of owning equine to the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, "Happy Trails to You."

1: "Impressive," was a famous Quarter Horse Stallion. Known for his exceptionally beautiful looks and not so exceptionally beautiful disposition, he is credited with creating the equine disease known as "HYPP," or Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis, a genetic disorder where the horse has inability to regulate electrolytes, causing impaired nerve function.

2: My two ponies, "Gambler," and "Prince," now in pony heaven.

3: "Sleestak." From the 1970's Saturday morning kids’ show, "Land of the Lost,"; an ugly, green reptilian with mitted, curled hands.