Saturday was a bittersweet day for my girlfriend Sissy and myself. You see, we're both horse people, although not in the sense that one or both of our parents were horses - I mean we like horses, or at least used to. Watching the Belmont Stakes really dredged up some poignant memories for us both, especially poor Sissy. I'll explain.
When I was growing up, my grandparents had a farm with a couple of ponies and I used to ride one named "Billy." One day Billy kicked me in the head (I accidentally scared him while attempting to paint his balls green as a joke*). I was scared of horses after that and every time Billy got within 20 feet of me I'd get dizzy and pee my pants. After he passed away I was less afraid, but still not 100%.
Sissy actually had her own horse when she was in high school. She named him "Grunter" because of the funny sounds he liked to make. She loved that horse and rode him almost every day. On her birthday during her senior year, her grandfather gave her five rolls of pennies he had saved up so she could buy some candy or one of those little hams she likes. Sissy jumped on Grunter to go get some candy, but he ran just a few steps before suffering a freak injury that ultimately resulted in him being put down a few days later.
The veterinarian said he'd never seen a horse break in half like that, and said Grunter must have had some kind of hereditary spinal weakness or something. Sissy was devastated, and hasn't been able to even look at a horse until we watched the Belmont at Mom's house Saturday.
When the race came on, Sissy at first didn't want to watch, but I told her it was time to put the past in the past. Although she appeared to do okay, Sissy confided later that at one point she suffered a vivid flashback of trotting along and suddenly dropping to her feet and running while still on the saddle, Grunter's belly sending up a shower of gravel and dust as it plowed the road. Luckily, she snapped out of it and went on to cheer with tears in her eyes as American Pharoah won the Triple Crown. I peed uncontrollably.
The bond between humans and ponies is a special one - I pray that Saturday was a first step for both of us being able to enjoy horses again -especially Sissy.
*The cowboy left the bar to find someone had painted his horse's balls green. He went back into the bar and angrily yelled, "Who the hell painted my horse's balls green?" A 6'7", 320 lb. form stood up in back and said, "I did, what's it to ya?" The cowboy replied, "First coat's dry!"