At liberty, with no tack or controlling gadgets, Geronimo dances a flamboyant flamenco with me. He pushes, pulls away, stomps, head tosses, teases, and pouts. He feigns indifference, imperialistically glares and elongates his nostrils in haughty disdain, then his muscular neck curves around my human torso in a graceful arc and his liquid eye is full. An odiferous vortex of gamey earth and fresh manure engulfs our graceful embrace sealing the finale.
Humor and playfulness are the only two ingredients needed for an equine flamenco production. Rather than stumbling through complex dance sequences, we trust our instinctual physical-energetic banter. Which game would you choose: flamenco or lunging endlessly in a circle? The answer is probably the passionate dance over rote discipline. When my daily drills of inane tasks for horses to learn, causes plush lower lips to dangle in stupefied boredom, it sends me over the edge into snorting chortles and my buddies instantly perk up; their human friend has returned to sanity.
Besides being an exquisite dancer, Geronimo is a stealthy glove thief. By the time I notice my gloves are no longer with me I’m back at the house having trudged through furloughs of pre-Spring mud. I turn to see in the far distance a finger of my work glove pinched between Geronimo’s barred teeth, his head bobbing enthusiastically.
Our human inner sanctum is fenced to be equine free, but Chief hangs his neck over the fence studying me planting expensive ornamental grasses in tall pots. He waits a few weeks until the plants have grown into full waving beauty, then Houdini-esque, opens the gate. Beelining to the pots the elegant grass is collared by large teeth, yanked and flicked by a massive neck and chucked gleefully into the air, rootball and all, like a dog toy. It hurtles an impressive distance landing in a bedraggled heap. He turns, looks at me, and trots to the next pot. Every plant is chucked from every pot with efficient ease. Has he ever done such a plant chucking activity before? I doubt it, as his old job was packing out dead elk on hunting expeditions. But something embedded in his humor genes knows the artful skill of plant chucking. No matter the cost and work involved, it is supremely funny. This type of humor is difficult to manufacture, it arises naturally and usually at inopportune times…like giggling in church.
Traveler has not yet come into full confidence with his new home and fellow equines. He watches the antics of his herd members and shows appreciation of pranks with a spirited high-step-head-toss. He is the elder, and poised dignity is his intrinsic nature. When his strain of humor emerges I will probably be too dense to recognize it.
Years ago I heard two well-known BBC sports commentators dissolve into uncontrollable mirth over a cricketeer who had tripped at a match, catching his groin on a wicket. The men became unintelligible while live-on-air, laughing so hard that a strange wheezing was all the listeners could hear…..for several long minutes. It was rockingly infectious. This moment was captured and saved as a you-tube video on the world wide web. Chief found it, showed it to me, and I was able to say I knew it well. (Yes, he has a computer stashed somewhere in a thicket). Chief and I share the same sense of humor and once we get started, there is no stifling it. Same as in church.