We recently had the a professional photographer come to the horse barn. Yes, this is a thing. Horses are beautiful, they don’t live as long as we do, and please don’t begrudge me this extravagance when I haven’t taken a vacay in four years.
The photographer requires two kinds of assistants. Somebody must hold the horse. This duty usually falls to the owner, who knows the horse’s secret passwords, favorite scratchy places, and dirty tricks. The second assistant has one job and one job only, and that is, to make the horse prick his ears forward.
The equine ear is a marvelous organ. Our hearing range is 30-19,000Hz, the horse’s range is 55 to 33,500Hz. He not only can move his head the better to position his ears to catch a sound (as we do), he can move each ear independently (ten sets of muscles compared to our three), and listen to sounds from two different directions simultaneously.
So you would think, when I stood behind the photographer, and shook that tin of horse treats, Santa would have been all ears-at-the-ready. No such luck. I shook the treats, I whistled, I snapped my fingers, I threw handfuls of grass into the air, and… nuffink.
I consider myself a dignified person, but the occasion called for extraordinary measures. I did some hitch kicks, which came off more like hitch-flops. I danced around with my finger on my head. I smacked the treats against my, er, hip, and I shook the overhanging branches while la-la-la’ing the Toreador song. The horse all but fell asleep, though the photographer and my riding instructor were both vastly entertained.
“I’m a lawyer,” says me, as if that sad affliction has any relevance. “If you DARED to take picture of me while I shook my booty at that horse, I’ll–”
“Too late, Grace,” says Madame Nikon. “First rule of horse photography, always get some blackmail shots.”
The horse remained toweringly bored, but the photo session became fun, because I allowed myself to play the fool, a side of me my riding instructor hadn’t seen before, and I hadn’t seen in much too long either. Since my impromptu barnyard pirouettes, I’ve been a little lighter of heart. More inclined to joke when texting, more patient with traffic and cats and life in general.
Younger children in large families often learn to play whatever role is needed in a given situation (sixth out of seven lest anybody ever forget), but I had lost track of how useful and joyous the role of jester-at-large can be. The horse won’t forget the photo session, and I won’t forget that I was a little silly, and the world did not stop turning.
Have you ever played the fool? Gotten the giggles? Had to leave because you were about to be ridiculous?