Ahhh, yes, let’s turn yet another page in the book of memory. This week’s chapter and verse comes to us circa 1983. I am twelve years old at this time. We’ve had Sally for almost a year now. Sally is a Shetland Pony (click the link for more information on this hell breed) that we were given by a nutcase chick that lived around the corner. She had outgrown Sally and had moved on to a Tennessee Walker almost double the size. Feeling generous and evil, she gave the Nightmare to us.
Now, why on earth would I call a pony a Nightmare? You know what one of those are within mythology, right? A demon horse with flames for their eyes and exhaled from their mouth. Their flaming hooves leave tracks of scorched earth behind. Commonly hooked up to Satan’s carriage. Yeah, one of those. This pony was so evil, Hell ejected her to Southern California because she would teach all the other Nightmares bad tricks. Obviously, she was a further punishment visited upon my head to convince me that evil did indeed exist.
I had already learned to ride through Boy Scout summer camp. Joy! That merit badge for Horsemanship really just made me soooo proud… Note the rich sarcasm and oozing irony. That is a tale all its own though. I might even tell it some day. Not today though. There is enough embarrassing material right there at home without needing to resort to another memory just yet. So, let’s just say I could ride and knew my way around taking decent care of a demon in horse like appearance.
Three things are of note concerning what is to follow. Each is of particular importance and is of vital bearing on each other. If any one of the factors had not been in place, I would have survived quite happily without the experience. The three things are: Sally’s corral, our neighbor and a bit of terminology ignorance on my part.
The corral was a makeshift affair, thrown together in a couple of hours once the bundle of bile… er, joy, landed in our care. My stepfather planted some posts and nailed up a couple of rows of boards in the backyard for her to pace and plot in. The ‘gate’, as it can loosely be termed, consisted of a couple of extra long 2×4’s held in place with bailing wire. The wire was looped around many times to create a circle that you could slide the board through and let go of. Cheap, nifty and usually worked… usually.
Our neighbors also had a Shetland demon… er, pony… by the name of George. George was a gelding, meaning his balls were ceremoniously removed and life as a male was supposed to be more placid. Sally would normally ignore his ass under most circumstances. Tanya rode him in the fields not far from our house for a long time, the same place I rode Sally until my legs got too long for riding her. We never actually rode at the same time either. So, Sally and George had only an over the fence gossiping relationship, never meeting out in the wide world.
One day, I was out front doing some ridiculous chore or another. Tanya had taken George out to the field to ride. Mom comes out onto the front porch and hollers at me, “Lael, go put Sally back in her corral! She got out again! And be careful….” I’ll fill in the last bit in a moment. It’ll make sense when I do. Trust me, leaving you in ignorance of it will approximate my understanding at the time.
I sighed and grumbled to myself. Sally had figured out that she could grip the ‘gate’ with her teeth and tug. Repeat until desired result accomplished, which being that the board drops out of the wire loop and she daintily steps out and about her self determined business. I went and shut the driveway gate, thankfully chain link with a metal clasp that no amount of mouth work on her part was going to open.
Tanya was now on her way back to her house. George is clopping along at a snails pace, he head looking down along the side of our house. Sure enough, out pranced our hell-spawn, neck arched coyly, eyelashes aflutter. Warp speed toward the front yard and her presumed Romeo. Catching my drift yet? Well, I didn’t at the time…
I moved toward her, now that she had reached the front yard, lessening the exhausting task of walking to the back to catch her there. She only had eyes for George. She didn’t have a halter at the time, but usually you could grab a handful of mane and direct her where you needed to go. She was not budging today. Those eyelashes fluttered like a hummingbird trying to avoid crashing. I got more firm and put my hand under her chin and tried to pull her head around to get her moving.
OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!! The damn pony bit me! Ok, itty-bitty tiny lil pony has a mouth that reached from my bellybutton to the center of my spine from the side. She had turned her head sideways and bit the crap out of my side. I am not joking about the bellybutton to spine either. That is the size of the bruise I had after. And my god, the pain. My scream of pain didn’t so much as startle either George or Sally. They were in their own little world of romance, doomed though it was by his childhood sack snipping. Tanya’s eyes just about popped out of her head when it happened. She was having trouble getting George to move it along. Finally she got him going, with Sally trotting along on our side of the front fence, lust in her eyes and naughtiness in her heart.
I managed to finally get her back where she belonged. It was a long game of cat and mouse, with her doing sudden double backs, trotting clear around the house faster than I could keep up. The trick to it was through her insatiable stomach. I cheated and fed her dinner alfalfa off the bale way before her usual feeding time. That brought her back in a hurry. Once her fat lil ass had trotted into the corral I stuck a nail in the board halfway through so it couldn’t slide without lifting and pushing and twisting.
I was so sore! Damn that hurt. So, what Mom had originally yelled was, “And be careful, Sally’s in season!” In other words, in heat, in lust, looking for a roll in the hay, so forth. As if a twelve year old would know what the hell that meant! I looked it up later while muttering about “Gee thanks Mom!”
Sally would give me knowing looks thereafter. And smile. The gleam told me all I needed to know. This little monster had it in for me. Ruin her romance, would I? Keep her from true love and destiny, would I? Pay you shall, forever more. But not your sister. I’ll stand perfectly still for hours while Melissa plays directly under my belly, but you set foot over that board and you’re in MY land buddy.
So, I stand by my assessment. Nasty, evil, Hell-spawn equine Nightmare. That was my Shetland pony. She is long gone now, back to Hell. She lived a long comfortable life. I still have a piece of her hoof trimming and a bit of her shed hair on my alter. I’ll sic her spirit on the next sucker that messes with me or my husband. Mess with my romance and face the wrath of Sally!