OK. It’s been a while since I’ve written, so some of you may have wondered how I am getting on.
Well, I’m doing fine, thanks. At least, I’m doing fine compared to my friend, Splash.
Splash is a horse and he’s had a tough go of it for the past week or so.
Before I tell you about Splash’s troubles, some background might be of value.
I live in Tempe, on an “urban ranch’’ owned by Mark Salem. Mark sort of took me in after I got out of prison, renting me a little mother-in-law house on his six-acre property in southwest Tempe.
Mark has eight horses and a burro. He moves the animals around on the seven small pastures on his property. My little house in smack dab in the middle of his pastures, so I’ve made friends with my neighbors, who happen to be horses.
Mark’s menagerie includes two yearling fillies - Jasmine and Gracie - four mares - Chanta, Cowgirl, Dolly and Misty - and a burro named Burrita. He has a gelding draft horse named Bernie, who comes from Amish stock in western Pennsylvania. Bernie is the only horse on the property with any religious affiliation, far as I know.
And finally, there is Splash. Splash is a painted stallion, whose job is to breed with the mares. Now, Splash is always "on the clock'' so to speak, which means he must be kept apart from the other horses except for the time when Mark wants his mares to get pregnant.
About a week ago, Mark decided it was time for Dolly to get pregnant, so Splash and Dolly were put in the pasture next to my house. This small pasture is considered the “Honeymoon Suite’’ of the ranch.
I became aware of this when I heard a commotion outside. I went outside and watched for a while.
An old friend of mine said that when his young boys began to inquire about “where babies come from,’’ rather than have an awkward conversation about “the birds and the bees’’ he instead took them out to his dad’s farm and let them see for themselves.
Well, I cannot recommend this strategy, based on what I observed this week.
(NOTE TO CHILDREN AND THE SQUEAMISH: This would be an excellent point in the story to QUIT READING! )
While Splash tackled the job with great zeal, Dolly did not seem agreeable. Maybe she was worried about losing her girlish figure. Maybe she just wanted to cuddle. Maybe she wanted to be "just friends.'' I don’t know.
But it was obvious that she wanted no part of what Splash was up to. She would try to run away, but Splash would follow on her heels, throwing his front hooves up on her back and running along behind her on his two rear legs, all the while trying to, uh, “engage.’’ Dolly would snort and holler and kick, but Splash was not deterred in the least.
Truth is, it struck me as a most violent act. I wondered if I should call 9-1-1 or something.
Instead, I just went back in my house and turned up the stereo - loud.
A couple of days later, Jose' (Mark’s ranch-hand) told me something very interesting. Apparently, when Splash had succeeded in his quest, his, uh, “thing’’ had become entangled in the hair of Dolly’s tail. The result was that the hair tore open Splash’s “thing.’’
“He pees out of about three holes now,’’ Jose' said.
The vet came out and rubbed anti-biotic on the wound (I’ll bet THAT is something they never tell you about in Vet School, huh?) and waited to see if the wound would heal on its own.
The other day I ran into Mark and I inquired about how Splash was doing.
He said it’s likely that Splash will have to have surgery.
The vet made a follow-up visit on Tuesday. Now, as it turns out, that was the day Mark got a call from a rancher friend who was coming through town with his horse trailer when he noticed that his brakes were beginning to fail. Mark, who owns an auto shop, told him friend to bring his truck by the shop. While Mark was working on his brakes, Mark asked his friend to stop by the ranch to help the vet examine Splash.
His friend was happy to oblige. When he got to the ranch, the vet asked for a a hand - literally.
“I need to take some pictures,’’ the vet told him.
So, Mark’s friend had to hold Splash’s “thing’’ so that the vet could photograph the wound from various angles.
So somewhere out there, there are photos of this man holding a horse’s "thing.''
I STRONGLY suggest that this man never run for public office. Some things you can just never explain, after all.
Anyway, Splash seems to be doing all right. He still nickers and hollers when he sees the mares in the other pasture. Splash can play hurt, I figure.
Mark says he plans to put Splash in with Dolly as soon as he heals up. He said he will probably put Dolly's tail up in a bun to prevent another similar accident.
I suspect that Dolly will look sort of like an FLDS horse with that bun, although I doubt Splash will mind. Like I said, he loves his work.
But he's going to be a sore boy "down there'' for a while, I bet.
On top of all that, I am sure that Splash is pretty embarrassed about all this. I suspect the mares smugly tell him that "it serves you right, you beast!'' They probably give Dolly a "high-hoof'' and say, "You go, girl!''
I am also sure that Bernie, being a gelding and bitter about it, is greatly amused.
But I feel sorry for ole Splash.
So, yes, I am doing fine.