It’s a widely known fact that horse people are “crazy.” Or at least, it is if you know any horse people. Ask them. They’ll tell you they’re all crazy.
Don’t ask them, and they’ll tell you anyway.
The bunny ears around the word “crazy” are not meant to indicate horse people aren’t actually crazy, but are merely used to indicate their particular brand of crazy is not found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM for short, where all the medically sanctioned varieties of mental instability are listed and defined.
What I have found in the horse folk of my acquaintance is not a mental condition per se, but levels of perseverance, dedication, fearlessness and tenacity cranked up to a level that would — though not in the DSM — not be out of place there.
And let us be very clear, I mean no disrespect to folks who have a diagnosed mental condition. But check out the signs and symptoms of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and BPD — the one where you take all kinds of risks with little to no concern for your own safety. Then hang out at a barn for awhile, and see if you notice any similarities.
In these days of cosseted youth, protected and padded against all of life’s difficulties, go to a barn and you’ll see kids plopped up on a thousand-pound beast and sent out to jump over rails, with only a helmet for protection. They’ll periodically tumble to the ground, often while traveling at a high rate of speed, only to jump right back on again, to the general cheering of the horsey adults present.
Unlike other sports, for which such an incident would have required a medical intervention and possibly an ambulance, in the horse world you don’t need to go to the emergency room unless you can see a bone sticking out of the skin. Otherwise, it’s business as usual, and that bravado is very alluring and addictive. Especially for someone as timid and fearful as I am.
Though only a wannabe horse person myself — my particular challenges in the DSM are of a decidedly less adventurous nature — I love being around horse folk, watching their exploits, and listening to their tales of derring-do. And unlike most well-worn tales of glory, these are usually backed up with evidence: scars, photos, videos, casts, splints, steel plates where bone used to be, that sort of thing.
But the best story of horse crazy I’ve heard lately comes from Texas, where a great-grandmother avenged the death of her miniature horse by shooting a 580-pound, 12-foot alligator, killing it with one shot.
Horses are prey animals. That’s why they can run so fast, and it’s a big part of the social contract between horses and humans. We protect them from harm, and in return, we get to ride around on them. But this granny in Texas failed to protect her horse, and she was bound and determined not to let any of her other horses suffer the same fate. Or that’s how I read it.
The Dallas Morning News is a little unclear as to why Nana thinks her horse was eaten by an alligator. It happened several years ago, and it’s pretty obvious she didn’t see it happen or the gator would have been gone a long time ago.
What is clear is that the gator has been a victim of profiling. Apparently, Nana’s evidence that this is the horse-eating gator is based solely on the fact that, as a 12-footer, he’s big enough to have done the dirty deed.
I know revenge is a dish best served cold, but I can’t help but wonder why Nana has waited so long to lend karma a helping hand.
She does insist that the killing was done in complete accordance with Texas hunting law, and as gator season is only 20 days each year, maybe it’s taken a couple of years for her Winchester .22 Magnum to get ’er done.
I can envision the old gal looking the big gator straight in the eye — where I assume she shot him — and saying just before pulling the trigger, “My name is Judy Cochran. You killed my horse. Prepare to die.” And then boom.
According to the story in the Dallas paper, Cochran is looking forward to all that gator meat and a new pair of boots. Riding boots, I would assume.
“Don’t mess with Nana,” she reportedly said to the press.
Good advice. Just like it’s never a good idea to mess with any of the horse people. Their reputation continues to be well-deserved.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.