Pony Face Syndrome
II was lounging on the couch in my daughter’s living room, sipping my preferred beverage, when I saw it. There, on the coffee table, in the middle of a disheveled stack of horse magazines and equine-supply catalogs, sat the recent edition of the pet-finder publication, Cats & Dogs. On the cover of this copy, someone scrawled the single most misunderstood word in the English language: “No.”
I chuckled. One-word stories rely on context, and I had a pretty good idea who smuggled Cats & Dogs into the house. I was equally confident regarding the writer of the word “no.”
Daughter Jamie has a long, colorful history of “asking” that animals join the family. In one form or another, she’s been in a state of perpetual pet request since she was 4 years old. Now that Jamie is grown up and married, my sonin-law, Kyle, has picked up the twin mantle of Gatekeeper and Savings Account Goalie.
Kyle is right to nip it in the bud, I thought, as the residing cat head-butted my glass of preferred beverage, slopping its contents onto the coffee table. The residing dog jolted from his repose and scurried over to lap it up before I could do the same.
House animals often work in concert like this and aren’t to be trusted.
Equine Mother Ship
At the epicenter of this domestic animal bliss is Jamie’s horse. In the grand scheme of things, the cat, the other cat, the barn cats, the dog, the rabbit(s), the things with wings, and the fish in the pond are mere satellites orbiting the Equine Mother Ship. And Jamie always seems to be either looking for another horse or preparing to look for one. Obtaining a horse — with all the accompanying logistical baggage and financial considerations — is a pretty big deal. It takes more than a simple request. An extended campaign is required if you want to convince other vested parties in the house why getting another horse is the most reasonable thing you could possibly do. After all, no horse can do everything, so if you have a notion to do almost everything, you need more than one. Or perhaps another horse would make your current horses happier. Even individuals who have unfettered access to their bank accounts and credit cards have to wage an internal crusade to sucker the arithmetic side of their brains into thinking that buying a horse actually makes good sense. Some people develop advanced manipulation tactics, learning to alternate between the direct and subtle, the coy and the aggressive, the forthright and the covert.
In the process, they begin to display external signs that indicate that a horse campaign is in progress. Chief among these is a complex countenance known as “Pony Face Syndrome.”
Pony Face is a cross between a concerned, but determined, Vladimir Putin kind of face and an intensely cute, cuddly, pleading kitty.
Social observers divide Pony Face into two basic categories: Deliberate and Resting.
Deliberate Pony Face is an interpersonal manipulation technique, plain and simple. In non-horse situations, it’s called the Pony Ploy, a high-side opening bid, using the same principle as sticker shock in auto sales.
A parent or partner confronted with Pony Face will be relieved — and made more malleable — when he or she realizes the only thing behind this Pony Face is a pair of new shoes. Expensive shoes, but still so much cheaper than a horse.
The unconscious form, Resting Pony Face, is a conditioned countenance created after an extended period of horse wanting. The victim’s face sort of locks into position, giving credence to old adage, “If you keep doing that, your face will stay that way.”
Experts consider it to be a valid medical condition. And they’ve come to realize that there’s no cure. It’s simply something families and individuals must learn to manage the best they can.
Usually, the only way to manage Pony Face Syndrome is to go ahead and buy the darn horse. TTR