All my concentration went into not doubling over in laughter. The man I love was sitting bareback on a pony I don’t love as much, trying to get him to walk. Smokey looked half asleep and unamused, while Tim administered firm nudges to his sides.

“Walk on!”

Tim’s tone had started out suggestive, but then escalated to aggravated when the pony had indeed “walked on” into a fence corner and would not budge any further. Tim’s face turned crimson with his efforts.

“Honey, turn his head in the direction you want him to go, and then give him a kick and tell him to walk on.” I instructed in as controlled a voice as I could muster.

I watched from the fence line as Tim gathered his right rein and turned Smokey’s head to the open field. He gave a kick to Smokey’s barrel and the gelding sighed as he took a languid step to the right.

The pair began ambling toward me.

“Now, he’s going to want to stop where I am. So when you feel him slow down give him a squeeze with your calves and tell him to walk on.” I hollered from the fence line.

Smokey continued to drag his hooves while Tim’s face was set in serious determination. Two strides from where I was standing, I could see what little energy Smokey had was waning and Tim had better kick him soon. Before I could form the words, Smokey halted and let out a long sigh.

There was a pause before Tim urged him forward again. He started with a strong squeeze and, ”C’mon!” before graduating to short, perfunctory kicks. To every 7 of Tim’s nudges, Smokey took 1 step. It looked like a comical freestyle dressage routine.

5,6,7 Step

Halt, 1,2,3… Step

5,6,7 Step… Halt

They progressed a mere ten feet away from their starting path. I didn’t mention it, but Tim’s inner thighs were going to sing pain in the morning. I took pity on poor Tim and told him to turn in the direction of the barn.

“Why?” Tim asked.

I pondered my response. “You’ll see.”

I watched as Tim took the left rein and guided Smokey’s head. Once it dawned on the pony that he was headed home, he marched forward with hardly an encouragement or threat from Tim. For a brief moment, Tim was riding.

Back in the barn, Tim asked, “Why did he walk so much better in one direction than the other?”
I smiled, “Why do you drive faster going home than going to work?” Tim mulled over the thought, shaking his head in understanding.

“Horses are that smart?” He asked.

“More than you realize.” I replied, and scratched Smokey’s forelock in the exact spot he loves.