A few weeks ago in the lunchroom at work, I was talking about jollyballs for horses. Much like I do when they talk about babies, my coworkers patiently waited for me to get the horse chat out of my my system. One woman was certainly listening however because she commented that she never knew that horses liked to play or thought of them as a playful animal.
This doesnt surprise me, most people dont get to see horses the way us true horsey folk do. They just see them standing around munching hay when they drive past a farm, or working hard when they do whatever they do. To me, horseplay is the best play and to see a giant animal get downright silly is probably the best experience ever.
My first experience playing with Bentley was a while back, where we somehow managed to play tag in the field. Not really sure how I taught him that, but I would chase him, he would let me catch him, then I would run off and he would chase after me. Adoreable right?
Last night as I drove home from work, I experienced some of the scariest lightning, rain and hail I had ever seen. Frantically I called everyone I knew trying to find someone to bring my horse in. No such luck. In fact, most of them thought I was crazy because it was clear skies at home. So in my beautiful red dress I went straight from work to the barn, and started running horses into their stalls. Lightning is where I draw the line, I really dont like my horse to be out in that stuff. All the girls thought I was crazy (however this isnt the first time I came to the barn in a nice dress straight from work) but followed my lead to start bringing in the horses. All but one got in before the sky let loose. Poor Shannon led Chloe through the doors, drenched to the core. They all immediately stopped calling me crazy. It was fun however, trotting all the horses from the field in my finest, I felt like I was doing the trotout at Rolex (and totally would have made the best dressed list!)
While the storm hung overhead, I decided to do some chores and feed my horse. Linda had made it into the barn before the rain started (as one of the people I frantically called) and in the downpour my dad also arrived to save the horses (as another who i had frantically called) We had free entertainment through the storm watching Sable go after the hanging treat ball I had bought for B when he was on stall rest.
So with the horses fed and happy and dry in their stalls, I ventured home to feed my other animals. Lee was very grateful. Haha.
We were out running errands, and the storm warning was called off, so we figured we would go put Bentley out in the field. No need to keep him in anymore! Lee hadnt seen him in a while (since the limping at the trot was really bad) so I brought him into the arena to show him Bentley’s improvement. Bentley is very close to being back to normal, and was particularly frisky from lack of work this last month. It had started to rain again, so we just decided to close the arena doors and let him blow off some steam.
Well he sure must be feeling better. WOW what energy. Trotted around snorting with his neck all arched, cantering tight turns and spinning on his haunches like a reiner, bucking and leaping and farting like a maniac. All unprovoked. Just so darn happy to be given a place to play. Lee was amazed, he had never seen bentley act this way (I hadnt either with the exception of when he played with Sterling) and it was such a blast to watch him.
Then we discovered the Jollyball at one side of the arena and decided to do some desensitizing. So I threw the ball to his side, he was clearly interested but not scared at all. Lee thought it would be a good idea to start tossing the ball onto Bentley’s back, and although I was adamant that it was a horrible idea, Bentley didnt seem to mind at all. Thinking that was enough of the ball to thoroughly have him hate it, I kicked the ball to the outside of the ring where it’s evils (all in my mind I assure you) would not bother us anymore.
Well wouldnt you know it, but Bentley does his arced neck, extended play trot right up to the ball and touches it with his nose. What??? He likes the ball? So I run over, and toss the ball back to the other end again, and there he goes, chasing it across the ring, plafully tossing his head and stopping to inspect it again. Lee and I started tossing and kicking the ball back and forth with this fetch game continuing for a good 10 minutes.
By that point, we were drawing a crowd of girls, watching through the windows of the arena. So I invite them in to get a better look, especially since I see Emily trying to videotape through the dirty windows. First time, he followed the ball but got distracted by his audience, and went over to greet them instead. Hes so charming, and a kid magnet too.
He then remembered the game, and performed wonderfully for everyone and the cameras. Fetching the ball and acting all cute.
You would think that would be enough for him, but he had to outdo himself with this next move which I am still having trouble grasping the reality of. He had learned in the game that a good strategy to catch the ball, was to go ahead of the ball and intercept it on course. So in one particular instance, he comes up beside and slightly ahead of the ball, shifts his hindquartes towards the ball and kicks out on a diagonal with his hind leg, getting the ball square in the sweet spot and propelling the ball down the arena. Squeals of delight and misbelief came from about 8 young girls (and Lee and I) at this. best of all, Emily caught it on video. Rest assured, I will post it as soon as she uploads it.
I could understand if he tripped and accidentally kicked it, but this was clearly no accident. This horse kicked that ball with intention!
I have no idea what brought him to think of this, and it amazes me at the depth of his mind. I have always known horses are brilliant animals, but the level of consciousness he displayed was far more than I ever could have imagined or learned through scientific studies. Perhaps he saw us kicking it and wanted to mimic it? Perhaps he just wanted to try it for fun? Either way, there were a whole lot of thoughts in his head for this to happen. What a new respect I have for him.
So a couple of fun quotes we can use for the video:
- World cup fever is so contagious, even my horse has caught it
- If the riding thing doesnt work out, Bentley can always fall back on his blossoming soccer career
- Who needs a mallet for polo when you have a horse like this?
- Bentley looked so different from the other kids on the soccer field, but boy could he ever play!
And here is a joke I found online:
There was once a football match between two small village teams. The visitors were surprised to see that the home team’s goalkeeper was a horse.
The horse played extremely well and it was mainly due to him that the home team won. After the match the visiting captain said to the home captain,
‘How on earth did a horse ever learn to keep goal like that’
‘How does anyone learn’ answered the home captain. ‘Practice, practice, practice!’
Any thoughts on more good ones?
EDIT: Here is the video 🙂
Link to share: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20O0UVhPS64&feature=youtu.be