Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Horse Day!

Today was Horse Day!

Every April, the institute brings a couple of horses onto campus for the students to draw. I can't pretend that Horse Day isn't one of my favorite secular holidays. Look at them.
Seriously--look at them!
I got to pet them and feed them hay and brush their dusty coats and you can and should be jealous!

A little known fact about Hawaii is that we have a big cowboy culture, and not just because of all the scenes in romantic movies where the couple goes riding on the beach at sunset. The Hawaiian cowboy, or paniolo, actually predates the American cowboy, or at least that's what they told us in middle school one year when we had a paniolo-themed May Day.
First black president. First cowboys. New Yorkers are right, why the hell did I ever leave?
My family never owned any horses, but we always knew people that did. Horseback riding on someone's ranch was an annual or semi-annual activity, along with the Naalehu Rodeo. And one time I got to hand out the ribbons at a quarterhorse show! That was a lot of fun, although I accidentally left the gate to the ring open and a runaway horse ran through with a teenager on its back, and I feel really bad about it to this day, even if no one was hurt.

(Maybe that post I wrote about almost losing my finger in the subway makes a little more sense now.)

A lot of my riding was done with the Girl Scouts, and I probably have a badge or two in horsemanship lying around my mum's storage boxes somewhere. If I do, they should be revoked. I'm a hopeless failure as a horsewoman.
My OKCupid picture is photoshopped! PHOTOSHOPPED!
You see, I like horses. But I like horses a little too much. As soon as I get up on the back of a horse, I go all soft and melty inside, because I love their soft fur and their warm flanks and the smell of their manes and their soft, soft noses when they nuzzle my hands for carrots. I'm a pushover for horses, and they can sense that. Horses are smart. Perceptive. And kind of lazy. They know I'm not going to be mean and make them work. So I get up on their backs and they immediately walk into the bushes and start eating.

This happens literally every time I go riding. I always have to be rescued from wooded thickets by the trailmaster or the trailmaster's kid because I cannot control a horse, and their animals, so they take advantage of me and do what they really want to do: stuff their horsy gobs with weeds. I like to think they're sweet, precious creatures whose domestication represents simultaneously the march of civilization and the call of freedom in the wilderness. But really, they just want to eat and not have to work. They're like enormous cats with better-smelling poops.

The last time I went riding, in the winter of 2012, my horse was such a jerk that she didn't even eat the soft, pretty ti leaves--she ate reams of nasty hitchhiker vines and whipped their seeds all over my legs, so I had to spend the next day in the driveway with a butterknife, scraping the stickers out of my jeans and shoelaces. She didn't even have enough respect for my authority  to stay out of the brambles. I'm lucky we made it back home and she didn't just ditch me on Kaloko Road and make me walk back to the ranch.

So really, it's better for me to experience horses the New York way: at art school, in the rose garden, with the sleeves of my blazer pushed above my elbows so I don't get too dusty on my lunch hour. 

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