The Controversial Horse
TThere’s a controversial horse at the upscale equestrian barn where my daughter takes riding lessons. He’s a 19-year old Paint Horse with chaotic patches of white splattered against a dun background. The patches on the gelding’s face and neck are particularly disorganized, with vaguely defined borders between white and color. His baby-blue eyes have earned him the nickname Ol’ Blue Eyes. Not exactly original, but accurate. This is often shortened to Ol’ Blue or just Blue. It’s not unusual for a controversial horse to go by several different names.
The Ol’ Blue Eyes controversy centers around three main issues. The first involves the mystery behind the meaning of his real name, PC. No one at the barn really knows what the letters stand for, but everyone has an opinion.
The first names that popped into my mind were Politically Correct and Personal Computer, but neither makes much sense in an equine context.
Other guesses that are more appropriate, but equally unlikely, include Pony Companion, Pretty Colors, and Painted Colt. Under the category of “Just Wild Guessing,” we have Post Card, Price Chopper, and Paper Clip.
Finally, there are the absurd speculations, no doubt inspired by the current campaign season. The more cheerful ones are Potential Communist, Positively Corrupt, and Probable Catastrophe.
But no one really knows.
The second controversy concerns Ol’ Blue’s alleged deafness. The barn is divided into two camps. On one side are the One-Siders, who believe the horse is deaf in only one ear. They contend that Ol’ Blue will take verbal cues from one side; however, no one agrees on which side this is.
Then there’s the Political Establishment Theory that Ol’ Blue is completely deaf in both ears. His remarkable peripheral vision may give the appearance that he can hear, but don’t let that fool you. Just be careful when you enter his stall.
I reject both theories. I believe there’s nothing wrong with Ol’ Blue’s ears. He’s simply engaging in selective hearing, a finely honed survival mechanism made necessary in this kind of barn environment.
‘Just a Trail Horse’
The third and final controversy centers on what Ol’ Blue “is good for.”
“I really don’t like his neck. And he looks clubby on his right side,” sniffs the One-Percenter Pony Princess.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” retorts the Weary Riding Instructor.
“Well, he’s probably not good enough to show. But you could still use him as a trail horse.”
“So trail riding is for show rejects? Is that what you mean?” While my heart and mind is with the Weary Riding Instructor, I take a cue from
PC and pretend not to hear a word. I’ve learned not to get involved in this sort of discussion; it never ends well for me. Strict barn neutrality based on well-practiced obliviousness is my official policy.
Pony Princess continues: “No, it’s just that you can use any horse for trail riding.”
Weary Instructor sighs. “Not really. It’s a different skill set. Some horses don’t have the temperament for serious trail riding.”
The argument escalates from there, with Pony Princess upping the emotional ante with a predictable cattiness. Her clear, but unstated, assumption is that PC doesn’t belong at the upscale show barn because, after all, he’s “just a trail horse.”
Of course, PC doesn’t see it that way. Not only does he belong, but he’s held in high esteem by humans and horses alike. His status is confirmed by a number of special privileges the other horses don’t enjoy.
While the pampered show horses pace inside their gilded stalls, PC is allowed to graze all day in the pasture with his pony friends, Peanut and Rascal.
PC also gets to go on all manner of adventures, making daily treks into the wilderness, surefooted and confident. He knows the surrounding terrain better than any horse in the barn and barely bats an eye at trail monsters that would send the other horses into a panic.
As I watch PC graze with his buddies in the warm morning sunshine, it finally hits me what the initials in his name really stand for: Perfectly Content. TTR