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Do horses have a sense of humor?

 article about Do horses have a sense of humor?

This article belongs to Sweet Grace column.


They do, according to me. I cannot say for sure if they indulge in this game with other horses but certainly they display it in full measure with the human beings especially the novice riders, as witnessed by me early last Wednesday morning.

I saw a young man, dressed in full breeches, Wellington shoes, spurs, etc., sitting on a horse during my morning constitutional. No. I haven't used any wrong verb. He was indeed sitting and not riding! The brown animal would look back now and then at him and give tiny grins with his large teeth. The youngster, around 20, would dig into his belly with his spurs ordering him to move along but the naughty horse stuck to his stationary mode. The scene definitely would have made a funny sight for all the onlookers but to me, it was an experience re-lived.

My mind went back a few decades . . . .

I had just joined my first appointment as the communication officer in a Brigade headquarters as a mighty Second Lieutenant. All the other officers viewed me with some awe because I was the first Post World War II trained Regular commission officer to join them. I found myself the baby of the headquarters as well.

As soon as I came out of my room that evening, dressed in my 'sports wear', Captain John Daniel met me at the entrance and said, "Here, take Gold Spot for a ride. He is a fine horse. Very obedient. You don't have to signal to him anything. Give all your commands in English and he, like any Army soldier, will carry out all your orders most faithfully."



The Captain didn't even ask me if I knew how to ride or if I was fond of horse riding. He had taken it for granted that the Academy would have given me training on everything on the Earth. Immediately, he mounted me on Gold Spot and said 'off you go'.

If I hadn't taken horse riding seriously, it was entirely my fault and not the Academy's at all. But I knew everything about riding – only in theory.

Gold Spot turned his massive head at me as if to say "Hi". Touched by his warmth, I responded with a "Hi, Gold Spot" and complimented him on his perfect manners. After all he was an English speaking horse and therefore ought to be familiar with all the English customs.

Without even a verbal command, Gold spot took me out of the Mess compound, moved to the left side of the road and started walking. "Excellent road sense," I remarked silently. At intervals of every twenty seconds, the horse would look back like checking if I was still there! "How concerned is he about my well being," I reflected in my mind.

After some 50 yards or so, I gave the command, "Trot". And I got into the trotting motion myself. A couple of minutes later I discovered that the person trotting was me and not the horse. To remind him, I raised my pitch, "TROT". Nothing doing. Gold Spot now slouched, yes slouched , and slouched like a donkey. "Trot, and trot like a horse, my dear fellow. And don't behave like . . like . . ." I checked myself there fearing that the English knowing horse might get offended and really behave like an ASS if I had called him that. However, he was moving forward all right but at his own speed and will. He would stop frequently, lower his head, sniff around, like he was looking for a piece of carrot or some such stuff and then move along at his own timing. Just now he was in command and I was only a spectator.

Hoping that some polished English and sweet talk would have a better effect on him, I said, "Mister G. Spot, will you please act at my command? I am an officer of the Indian Army, you know?" Seeing no favorable response, I decided to threaten him. "I shall report to Captain John Daniel about your sloppy behavior. Understand?"

School children were passing by. They halted for a while and laughed shaking their head at the two of us, especially at my white shirt, half pants and white canvas shoes. To make it known to the children that it was the horse which didn't know its job whereas I did, I reverted into my trotting action. The children didn't buy my defense story at all.

"See Goldie, haven't you made a laughing stock of me in front of those children? You are a terrible horse, I must say."

Goldie probably felt insulted. He shook his whole body and I had to make a great effort to keep myself afloat on his back. With a possible fear that he might do the worst, I said, "Shall we go home, friend?" Not only did he understand this command but also obeyed it by taking an about turn and headed towards the Mess.

John was at the gate. "Ah, there you are. Had a nice ride on Goldie? Hope he didn't give you any trouble. Sometimes, he gets a little naughty, you see? " the Captain commented. At this point, Gold spot looked right into my face as if warning me, "Keep your big mouth shut. OK?" I felt like a frightened baby in front of a no-nonsense type governess. "No. He is a fine fellow," I answered. GS made a gurgling sound and I thought I heard him say, "That's better…"

That was years back.

I looked at the young man pitifully now and wished him luck. What else could I have said? I wondered if this horse was Gold Spot's great, great, great grandson. Perhaps this mischievous stallion expected the amateur rider to dismount and walk him home!


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