Dear Dottie: Self-Help for a Horse?
“Dear Abby,” “Dear Amy,” “Dear Dr. Phil” — everyone knows the self-help guys.
Random people you’ve never met, who don’t know your real name — and yet can resolve your relationship woes, turn your badly behaving child into an angel, and magically transplant you into the job of your dreams.
Surely, horses need their self-help, too. Here are a few queries I can imagine, to self-help horse “Dottie,” taken straight from the horse’s mouth.
Dear Dottie: My owner shows up every single day without fail and insists on riding me for at least an hour every time. An HOUR.
I don’t think my looks of contempt and exasperated noises at this unreasonable work load are getting across very clearly. Am I within my rights to, well, retaliate more harshly?
Sincerely, Circled to Death.
Dottie: My dear Circled, oh, yes! You tell that human, sister! (…brother?)
Sounds like you’re being expected to pull the majority of the weight in your working relationship, when all your owner does for you is feed you three times a day, give you a place to live, bathe you, clean your stall, pay someone to take your shoes on and off for you and someone to clean your teeth, and let you sleep for the other 23 hours of the day.
Clearly, there’s a skewed balance here that you need to address. I suggest more pronounced pinning of the ears, maybe some teeth baring and eye rolling, then give a few little bucks as a warning before you let loose.
Faking lameness is another good quick fix. Just don’t forget to hobble on the same leg the whole time — easier said than done.
Dear Dottie: I’m a sleek Thoroughbred, with naturally perfect mane and tail and toned shoulders and hindquarters — I mean, I do hoof-ilates three times a week. I’m pretty hot stuff.
I’ve got a thing for the Warmblood on the other side of the fence. Four white stockings, docked tail and all — he’s just gorgeous. But, he doesn’t seem to notice that I exist.
I think the problem is my Roman nose. Yeah, stupid rounded thing — like, worst facial deformity ever! Can you recommend an equine plastic surgeon so I can get a nose job, ASAP?
Sincerely, Hopelessly in Love.
Dottie: Hopelessly, honey, I feel your pain on the unfortunate appearance front.
I’m an Appaloosa pony; I was born chubby, with stumpy legs and covered in polka dots, for crying out loud. I was lost in fruitless pursuit of those dashing dappled grays for my entire heyday.
Having said that, I’m all about the “go natural” philosophy. Before you leap into some life-altering procedure, make sure you’re playing to your strengths in your love life quests.
Perhaps you should give the eye contact flirt trick a shot, if you haven’t. Note that you might have to stare awkwardly at him for a while and throw in some insistent whinnies, so he’ll actually acknowledge your presence.
Lock in his gaze, but only for a split second — just long enough so he knows you were looking his way. Then shift your gaze quickly away. Make sure your best side is facing him, and arch your neck — then let the wind catch your mane as you look dramatically off into the distance.
Voila. Hello, desirable. Happy flirting.
Dear Dottie: I’m 54 years young (human to horse years conversion factor used), and I’ve been a placid, obedient dressage horse all of my life. Dutiful 20-meter circles, flawless extensions, immobile final halts — been there, done that.
But last week, I was seized with this fervent, rebellious desire to — gasp! — jump out of my paddock.
Four-foot panel fence, and I sailed over it with ease, letting out a little evil snort. My owner was flabbergasted. Now I have this inexplicable longing to never, ever see that detestable white dressage rectangle again.
What is happening to me? Does this happen? And what do I do?
Sincerely, Wannabe Show Jumper.
Dottie: Wannabe, take a deep breath. You’re having a mid-life crisis. In fact, it happens to each and every one of your four-legged fellows.
When I turned 50 I decided I was going to become an equine fashion model for Dover or Bit of Britain. Those posh animals do nothing but stand there and look photogenic for 10 minutes a day. That’s the life for me.
But there’s a minimum height requirement of 14.2 hands. I’m still waiting for a miracle 15-inch growth spurt (doesn’t cuteness count for anything?!).
Anyway, don’t hide your fire. Most horses are too stooped into submission to humans to act on their urges.
Since it’s hard for us to have constructive discussions with our riders due to a slight language barrier, I wouldn’t be too subtle. You need to look visibly distraught and balk at any mention of coming down the centerline.
Keep jumping out of the paddock, too, while you’re at it. Humans are supposed to have more advanced brains than us, right? Yours will put two and two together.
If not, Wannabe, write back. We’ll come up with a more drastic plan of action.
Contact Sarah Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story