Life Lessons From a Flatulent Horse

If ever there was proof that horses have a sense of humor, this is it.

Photo: crazyhorselover/CC

Photo: crazyhorselover/CC

Katie Paez shares her story.

As a riding instructor, I see a lot of students throughout the course of a week. Some are willing to learn. Others, not so much. At 7 in the morning with too little coffee in my system, I prefer the students that want to learn. However, those are far and few between that early in the day.

One student in particular throws the most tantrums, the most hissy fits, and refuses to do things I require in the lesson. It’s a constant battle. “Heels down,” I’ll say, and she’ll come back with “why?” “Look where you’re going,” I’ll remark, and she’ll purposely look down. This past Saturday she was more obstinate than usual. Normally, I’ll grin and bear it, but this time I just could not take it.

She arrived for her lesson wearing pajamas and flip­flops. I turned to look at her mother, who just shrugged and gave me one of those “what can you do” looks. Without even a pair of socks to lend her, I couldn’t put her on a horse. So I made the decision that today we would be learning how to properly groom and bathe a horse, and how to clean tack. While not thrilled, she obliged.

I brought in one of my easiest going horses­­ a quiet, giant draft horse named Destiny who had been retired for a number of years. Since we weren’t riding him, I thought it might do him well to receive a little pampering. We set out grooming Destiny, my student complaining the entire time about the smell and the weight of his hooves and not wanting to do this or be here, yada yada yada.

After showing her how to pick a horse’s hooves, she decided she wants to try it herself. Now, any horse­person knows that the second you pick up a hind hoof, your horse will let out the longest, stinkiest, nastiest fart in the history of horse farts. Destiny is no exception to this rule.

Destiny, however, doesn’t let out your typical horsey fart. Oh no. If scientists could bottle his farts, you could bomb a country with them for immediate surrender and no casualties. Today was no exception. So he let it rip. My student immediately drops his hoof and staggers back, coughing. Her eyes are watering and she’s gasping for fresh, clean air. Her mother is stepping out of the barn in hopes of escape. Me, I’m used to his farts, so I show no reaction while this mother­-daughter duo is suffocating on the noxious fumes Destiny has just emitted from his rear end.

Long story short, the air clears. Both mother and daughter can breathe easily again and my student decides she wants to try again. With assurances from myself that his gas has passed, the little girl picks up the other hoof. I’m too distracted making sure she’s doing it right to notice Destiny has lifted his tail in full, and before I can move my student out of the way, he unloads his bowels. Directly. On top. Of. Her. Head.

My student is crying, her mother is screaming, one of the grooms has excused himself so he can go laugh, and I am desperately trying to cover my laughter with coughing. Needless to say, they have taken their business elsewhere, but the look Destiny gave me after the deed was done was well worth the loss. His face read, “Did that help?” And it was easily the best lesson I have ever taught, because it was taught by a flatulent horse.

My name is Katie Paez. I am 20 years old. I live in New York, USA and have been riding for seventeen years, since before I could even walk. I’m and Equine Management major at a local college out on Long Island. I teach riding lessons at Quogue Pony Farm and live for the days when I can spend all morning mucking stalls surrounded by the gentle company of my equine friends. 

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