My kids’ OTTB James is the equine version of the Peanuts character “Pig-Pen.” He lives for a good roll that will grind and cake mud into every nook and cranny he possesses. James loooooooves looking like a four-legged Swamp Thing; although his riders are less enthusiastic about his hygienic practices.
It’s rained for the past couple of days, which means James has been in high heaven, no doubt finding every patch of dirt in his field. My son and I knew what we were going to find when we got to the barn, and James didn’t disappoint. He was covered stem to stern, his forelock sticking up like a Mohawk and the only things not covered in dried mud were the eyes that were gazing gleefully out at us. James looked like a kid who’d gotten into the cookie jar and ate every last one, clearly very pleased with himself.
Sadly for James, his pleasure was not to last long. Noah curried, curried some more, and yet even more. Currying and a couple passes with the stiff brush didn’t do much against the muck – if you tapped his croup a mushroom cloud of dust came up – so it was decided it was time to break out the vacuum. Have I ever mentioned that James does not like the vacuum? Nope, not even a little bit. To James, the vacuum is the source of all evil in this world.
Noah dragged the vacuum over to James, who had pulled his head back and was eyeing Noah with obvious misgivings. “You brought this on yourself,” Noah told his horse. He then walked up to James and held the vacuum cleaner head under his nose, saying “You know what this is. You know how this works. I turn it on and it makes a WHHHOOOOOOOSSSSSSHHHH noise and I put it on and it sucks all the dirt out.” James sniffed the end of the vacuum, his eyes going from machine to boy and back again. Noah then rubbed the head along James’ neck and shoulders, talking to him the whole time.
Sugar and I watched this whole exchange with great interest and many giggles from our vantage point across the aisle. Sug loves the vacuum, and clearly had no idea why James was apprehensive. As we watched, Noah turned the vacuum on and poor James’ eyes damn near goggled out of his head! He startled, braced his legs out like he was Bambi on the ice, snorted, and whipped his head over to look at me as if to say, “I want to speak with Management! I’d like to file a formal protest!” He then swiveled his head to give Noah the hairy eyeball and snorted emphatically.
Noah kept talking to James, praising his bravery (???) and making glacially slow, sweeping movements with the vacuum. This eventually relaxed James, and he reduced his Terror Alert Status from High to Guarded, his ears tracking back and forth in case anybody decided to try any more funny business.
When Noah finished, James let out a HUUUUUUGE sigh and hung his head on the cross-ties, his demeanor indicating he felt highly put-upon by the indignities of being subjected to such a traumatic experience. Noah went over and grabbed a carrot for James, who brightened and scarfed it down, immediately forgetting his encounter with the Evil SuckMonster.