In search of ponies: The vain pain

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

Oh he’s a pretty boy, a real stud.

Well, actually he’s a stud-no-more since the Doc got a hold of him a couple years ago, but he is a gorgeous hunk of flesh nonetheless.

And he knows it.

He looks like royalty prancing around with his head high and muscles rippling under a smooth coat, his long mane and tail sail in the breeze.

Pyrite is a star by comparison to the rest of his little herd, who stand in his shadow sneaking a glimpse here and there so they can be sure to dart out of his way if he should take a notion to want the ground they’re standing on.

There’s one other thing that marks their fealty to him. … You see, with choppy manes and cropped tails, they just don’t look near as pretty as he does.

And that’s not by accident.

It was several months ago and everyone was put up in the barn during a spell of bad weather and I noticed for the first time that my darling Sancha had no tail.

On closer inspection, not only was her tail missing, her beautiful mane had been butchered too.

And she wasn’t the only one.

Blackie — whose myriad of skin and hair issues had occupied a great deal of my time and resources with success finally showing itself in stronger follicles — was also sporting a new Mod hairdo.

Oh, but not Pyrite.

His majesty was as fine as ever, standing back in the corner of the paddock with his chin high and gorgeous black locks flowing.

Briefly, and I do mean briefly, I considered the possibility that some nefarious monster had sneaked out in the night to chop their beautiful hair, or that perhaps some errant barbershop student had been desperate for a test subject.

Alas, no.

Call it deduction, sheer genius or just pure intuition, but one look at Pyrite and I knew he was guilty on all counts.

I have heard tell that horses eat other horse’s manes and tails because they lack some vitamin or nutrient in their diet. Now while this may be true, I weigh it against those moments when I crave a sinful chunk of cake and I quickly conclude that just because you have a hankerin’ doesn’t mean you’re answering some mystical call from a vital deficiency.

I’ve also been told that they do it out of boredom.

Now that I can buy into a little more. Horses do get bored, especially cooped up in the barn just waiting for the next flake of hay to fall.

But he was just a little too happy with himself for me to accept that answer and I pretty quickly concluded he did it out of pure impishness.

Keep in mind that this is the same horse who has unlatched the stall next to his to let his neighbor out.

When I fixed the latch, he undid a chain and opened the gate and let Blackie and Sancha out, then stayed behind like a good boy because he knows full well where the good hay and lovin’ is.

And this is the same fella who almost looked disappointed when, after spending most of the night searching three sections in each direction, I returned with the wayward pair and stuck them right back in there with him again, albeit with new latches.

All that in mind, I would be a little more reluctant to pin it on him if his self-centeredness didn’t precede him so.

And it was that one act that made it hard for me to look at him for a little while because I’ll admit, I was angry and disappointed, especially when it came to Sancha’s hair.

Now I know it is just a little on the girlie side for me to even care about horse hairdos, after all, the hair does not make the horse.

But Sancha’s tail was beautiful. At the age of 2 1/2, it had almost reached the ground and was a lovely mix of colors.

Likewise, her mane was finally breaking out of the choppy toddler stage and hanging in beautiful waves past her neck.

And the worst thing is the time it takes them to grow their hair.

It seems to take so much longer even than humans and months later, they barely seem to have grown at all.

Of course I have adapted and my ill feelings toward Sir Handsome didn’t last long.

Every now and then when I am taking in his beauty as he poses next to his hairless companions, I remember how it was he came to shine.

But he’s about to find out beauty doesn’t come without a price.

I wonder if he’ll look as good as his sister did with all those intricate braids in her mane?