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Maya Pierce

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Laws Concerning Behavior and Ground Manners

Photo by Carol Robinson. Photo by Carol Robinson.

Maya Pierce is a Area VI young rider currently competing her OTTB Lucky Benny at the Beginner Novice level. She is also a C-1 in Butte Valley Pony Club Sierra Pacific Region.

She explains the motivation behind this unique submission: “Recently in my AP English Class we were asked to imitate a short story called ‘Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles; Lamentations of the Father’ by Ian Frazier. Being the horse obsessed girl that I am, I chose to write it about my horse.”

Thanks for sharing, Maya!

Laws Concerning Behavior and Ground Manners; Barnyard Principles; Lamentations of the Horse Owner

Of all the beasts of the field, of all the giraffes in the sahara, you may act, but only in the turnout. Of all the animals, prey or predator you may you behave, but not when your pitiful person is on your back. Of the hoofed animals, domesticated or undomesticated, you may act, but not in the monotonous sand arena. Of all the venues, of the nightmarish trails, of the covered arena that you are so inclined to believe that there is a monster is in, of all the cross country jumps of unknown provenance you shall not spook, except for the in turnout. Of all the ways to misbehave, you may do, but only in the turnout. Of all bucking and other fusses, yes even those cow kicks you may excecute; but only in the turnout. Indeed, when you reach the place where the turnout fence begins, of all the ways you may not act, you are authorized to do there.

But if you are sick, or are lame, than you may not act like a beast in the turnout.

And if you are standing in your cross ties, or tied to the trailer, keep your legs and hooves below you as they were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place your hooves upon anything other than the ground on which you stand, for that is a abomination to me. Yes, even when you see something interesting, your raised hooves above the ground are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke. Drink your water as it is given to you, neither use it to spit over me, or anyone else, for that is not what water is for; if you dip your hay in your water bucket, and then eat it, you shall be looked down upon. When you have drunk, leave the empty water tub on the ground, do not bite the edge, or pick up the tub and wring it around sounding like an angry cow; for you shall be sent away from the bucket.

When you chew your food, keep your muzzle closed until you have swallowed, and do not open it to show your pasture mates what is within; I say to you, do not do so, even if your pasture mates have done the same to you. Eat you hay and grain only; do not eat that which is not food; neither seize the stall wood between your jaws, nor use the raiment of my shirt to wipe your lips. I say again to you, do not touch it, but leave it as is. And though my fingers does indeed resemble a stick of carrot, eat not my fingers, even if it is just a nibble, for horses do not eat people, that is why. And though your grain is very fun to play with and waste, do not waste it, because we do not waste grain, that is why. Stand just I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the other, nor lean on me. Heed me; for if you stand like that, you shall be in the way of the other horses. And now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass.

Laws Pertaining to Riding

For we judge between a horse that acts well with a rider on him and a horse that acts badly with a rider on him. Saying first, if you act well when being ridden, you shall have copious amounts of treats. But if you act badly, the laws are these: If you have acted badly for most of the ride, but in the last ten minutes straightened out you attitude, you shall receive one treat for your efforts. But if you act consistently badly for the entire ride, you shall not have any treats, no, not even a small portion thereof. And if you try to deceive by attempting to be well behaved when I am off you, you will still fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall have no treats.

On Pawing

Do not paw; for it is as if you paw all the time. If you are made to stand in the cross ties and you do not wish to stand there, but you are, and your hooves rise above the ground over and over again, creating a never ending grinding sound; but I say to you, paw no, only remonstrate gently with the owner, so that the owner may correct the fault. Likewise, if you are made to stand for a “copious” amount of time and have not been given any sort of distraction, and although standing is loathsome to you, and steeped in vileness; again I say, refrain from pawing. Though the vileness may overwhelm you, and cause you to faint unto death, make not that sound from your paws onto the ground. For even now I have stood for five minutes still; behold, I do not ram my foot upon the ground.

Concerning Coats, Manes and Tails

Cast your countenance upwards to the light, and lift your eyes to the hills, that I may easily spray and wash you off. For many a stains are upon you, even at the tip of your ear there is hay thereon. And on your belly, and upon your withers, hay and other fragments (including some of your own excrement) are distributed in a matter not so wonderful to see. Only hold yourself still; hold still, I say. Give your coat it’s turn for my cleaning thereof. Lo, how iniquitous it appears. What I do is as it must be; and you shall not go hence until I have done.

Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances

Bite not, lest you shall be cast to the dreaded round pen. Neither drink of anything of unknown substance; nor rub yourself on anything that would result in scratches, even if it may relieve your itches, nor rub yourself against other horses, nor against me; nor eat sand. Leave the smaller horse alone, for what has the pony done, that you should afflict it with your braying? Indeed, you will drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the rubbing.

Complaints and Lamentations

O my horse, you are disobedient. For when I tell you you what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, you neigh out, and buck and kick. Yes, and even sometimes you nip, and neigh in a argumentative tone along with other blasphemies, and kick the wall thereof when you are sent to the round pen.

Hear me, O my horse, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay again, even in the twentieth time in a year, and yet they mount higher than before. For your health and comfort I give a large amount of money each year; but it does not cover everything. And yet for each ordinary visit I enter the tack store, I leave with with more than I can carry and more than I can pay for. Guess not at what helplessness is in my mind, for surely you cannot know.

Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O horse of mine. But please remember, O horse of mine, that no matter how much you may enrage me, you shall always be cherished, as you are just a horse acting like a horse.