Ponygate: The story behind the scandal
In which blogger/ponybutler Kat O’Riley admits that she will never be able to run for public office.
The beleaguered mayor of Canada’s largest city, Toronto, has unwittingly provided me with a very, um, sober (albeit sadly belated) cautionary tale in terms of his recent stunning string of scandals: Do not consider entering political/public life if you possess even one of the 200+ bones comprising a human skeleton stashed away in any of your closets. Not even a teeny tiny fragment of the stirrup ear bone!
For those with skeletons of a less literal nature lurking in the past (and hey, who doesn’t have a few of those suckers stashed away with old coats and dust bunnies?), it’s still advisable to think very hard before exposing yourself to the harsh glare of the public eye. Take me for example: I thought I had all my ponies in a row before deciding to run for mayor of my birthplace of Bablatrice Beach… proud home of the world’s largest organic swizzle stick factory.
I’d been riding high on a wave of popularity as I arrived at a Loyal Order of the Aardvark luncheon late last month, and was blithely poised to deliver an inspiring speech outlining the pithy planks of my political platform, when a seething scrum of reporters and photographers entered the room. Aggressive questions flew out of a storm of camera clicks and flashes, as I shielded my eyes.
“Is it true you’re an equicentric?,” “Do you consider ponies to be more important than swizzle sticks?” and “Isn’t it a fact you doth think of nothing but your horse?” were hurled at me as microphones bobbed in front of my befuddled face. Before I could frame a response, an ink jockey from a particularly toxic tabloid held up a yellowed sheaf of papers.
“Are these despicable things a product of your depraved youth?,” the jaded journalist jeered. As I squinted into the harsh lights, I sensed my promising political life had just ground to a painful whole halt. Nevertheless, I was determined to defend my newly revealed pony preoccupation, so I cried, “Yes! It’s all true! I AM PONYBUTLER! What of it? Is it a crime to prefer Eau de Cheval over Chanel No. 5? To buy rainsheets instead of bedsheets? To haul ponies, instead of groceries? …I think not!!”
And let’s face it, while the Loyal Aardvark crowd may not have been entirely sympathetic, who among us [HN citizens] doesn’t have some file tucked away that would betray our dogged dedication to equus? Those lovingly created pictures and words in our personal archives should serve as an honourable reminder of our unwavering commitment to move mountains of manure, fill oceans of water buckets, and brush acres of manes and tails.
The evidence below may have put paid to my political ambitions, but that early unflinching focus on all things equine helped me learn how to achieve important goals. Every time I demonstrated a total lack of interest in some tedious aspect of education (math, history, English, science…), my parents had only to mention their coincidental lack of interest in driving me to riding lessons, and hey presto, I was magically fascinated by whatever I’d been ignoring.
The ol’ carrot and stick approach shaped my evolution into a contributing member of society (‘Ponybutlering’ counts as a career, right?). While I may not be riding on the mayoral float in the annual parade to kick off Swizzle Stick Daze this summer, I know I’ll be much better off riding my loyal pony.
And on upcoming cold winter nights, I can pore over my long lost equine archives, and recall the hopes and dreams of a constructively(!) obsessed kid…
AGE 5: THE PSEUDO-PICASSO PERIOD (SADLY, MY JUMPING FORM/EQ!? HAS NOT IMPROVED MUCH OVER THE YEARS).
AGE 6: THE “IF I WISH IT, IT WILL HAPPEN!” DELUSIONAL STAGE (MY FATHER WAS IN THE MILITARY, AND HAD NO CLUE ABOUT HIS EXCITING FARM-DAD PERSONALITY).
AGE 7: MY NEO-FOLK ART PERIOD, POSSIBLY FORESHADOWING FUTURE TRAILER LOADING ISSUES.
AGE 10: THE CLASSIC SACCHARINE ‘ROMANCE OF THE HORSE’ PHASE… EVENTUALLY CURED BY MUCKING OUT ABOUT TWO MILLION STALLS, AND BREAKING MANY BONES.
About Kat: I’ve heard that fortunate people have one great passion in life; aside from dark chocolate and my husband–not necessarily in that order!–mine has been “everything equine.” Beginning with lessons as a kid, I’ve been lucky enough to break a variety of bones riding a wide selection of breeds, in a number of disciplines–from TB racehorse (clavicle) to eventing Appaloosa (tibia) to endurance Arabian (ribs). It’s also been my privilege to play Ponybutler to my own hooved beasties on a succession of scarily rustic farms, over the past 20 [very] odd years. The dream continues!
Kat and her ex-hunter pony partner of 14 years (Provincial Velvet a/k/a the Amazing Velveeta a/k/a “Velvet, NO!!”).
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