The only bad boy I ever loved was a muscular blonde with dark brown eyes…and four legs. Nado was a Haflinger gelding whom I couldn’t help but love to hate.

Nado and I had a special bond. I’ve never laughed so much while riding as I did when I rode that cheeky bugger of a pony.

Being a classic pony, he regularly tested his boundaries with me. He’d shuffle around in the cross ties like a polka dancer while I attempted to detangle his carpet of a mane. A few times his hooves parked themselves on my feet. He also loved to lean on me as though it were some sort of hug.

One time while bridling him, I slid the reins over his head and unsnapped the halter and cross ties. Nado began walking forward. With the reins around his neck, I briskly pulled back and said, “Ho!” This didn’t faze him, so I threw my hips into his chest to act as a road block. Had Nado been able to talk, this is how the conversation would have gone:

Me: “Ho!”

Nado: “You’re funny. Let me pass, woman.”

Me: “Nado! Ho! Stand!”

Nado: “Nope.”

Me: “You jerk! HO!”

Nado: “Nope, nope, nope…” *running away from you now*

He broke free from my grip and went barreling down the aisle into the barnyard. I watched as Nado hurdled around the yard, head held high, nostrils fanned, and eyes bright with defiance. The bridle bounced around from left to right, smacking that stupid pony. The bridle made it once around the paddock before Nado’s hooves annihilated the thing.

Nado’s pace slowed as he settled in on a luscious patch of grass. Tearing hunks from the ground, he shook his shaggy blonde mane and snorted, happy with his spoils of war.

I grabbed a halter and lead rope and trucked out of the barn toward the 14 hand culprit. As I approached, he looked up, eyes bright, and nickered low and soft as if to say, “Hello, friend. Where have you been?” My heart melted. He lowered his head for the halter as I slipped it over his ears. He followed me around the yard like a puppy while I hunted down the remaining pieces of bridle.

Each time I bent over or squatted to dig through the shrubs, he’d nudge my back or play with the edge of my shirt. I’m a sucker for a playful horse, and Nado fully took advantage of it. Upon finding the third torn section of the noseband, I straightened up and turned to look at him. He cocked his head to the side, as if expecting an award for being so darn cute. I sighed.

“Well,” I said, his deep brown gaze still fixed on me, “it was a cheap bridle anyway.”