on putting baby in the corner
and leading your way to incompetence
The barn manager challenged me. She likes doing that. Sometimes, I rise to the challenge. More frequently than not, I look like an incompetent idiot. It amuses her when I look like an incompetent idiot. It amuses me that I amuse her. As such, I’m quite willing to accept any challenge.
Are you still taking those damn ponies in one at a time? When are you going to grow up and lead them all in at once.
Though she didn’t say it, the next sentence of “that’s what I do” was clearly implied. I couldn’t imagine leading horses the way Sally does. She leads them in up to five at a time. She drives the golf cart or the Gator with three lead lines in one hand, two more with her other and steers with her thighs.
Damn she’s good. I wish I could kick as much ass as she does - my inner monologue at the thought of leading multiple horses at once.
Fine. I’ll do it, I replied. Sally’s eyes twinkled a little behind her glasses. I could see a faint smile appear on her face. Shit. I know what she’s thinking: This is going to be hilarious.
And it was. I was. The first week, I brought in two. Two ponies. At feeding time. One in each hand. Everything was mostly fine until I had to figure out how to unhook the lead lines, open their stalls and get them turned around. I arsed it up and needed assistance. Sally came in with a paternalistic sigh and helped me out. Father Sally knows best.
The next two were easier. I managed them. Having a bit of support in figuring out the finer points of finishing was the only way this was possible. So, you mastered two last week, are you willing to try four?
Well shit. Sally was raising the stakes. Fuck yeah baby! I replied. What else could I say?
Baby? Did you just call me baby? Her eye roll was fully present in her voice. She didn’t like being called baby. What to do? Apologize or double down on the ‘baby’ swipe?Meh. She convinced me to ride bareback resulting in my flying from the back of a horse.
I sure did baby! With that, I collected four lead lines and trotted towards the pony paddock chuckling gleefully at my problematic sexism singing baby baby baby in the best Robert Plant falsetto that I could muster.
Heh. I felt good.
Speaking of problematic? Ponies are entirely problematic creatures. No. That’s not entirely true. Ponies frequently tend to be the biggest arseholes on the farm. Just getting lead lines hooked up to four violent anarchists was an ordeal. Moving with them was much worse. Even worse than that, I put Baby in a corner and she wasn’t forthcoming with tips and pointers.
Instead? She watched with a couple of her young prodigies from the golf cart. Initially things were fine. The four jerks bit at each other and jostled for position. Once we approached the barn door however, things changed.
The chestnut arseholes decided that they needed priority. They pushed past the and me as well. The other more docile ones were more than happy to have the hooves and teeth of the nastier, more dominant ones away from them. Me? I was in trouble.
There were ponies in front of me, ponies on either side of me and ponies behind me. They were not getting along and their hooves and teeth were being put to nefarious use. I was over my head and drowning in ponies. Baby and her prodigies? They simply sat at the sidelines and chuckled. Even though I wasn’t there, I can imagine Sally telling her younglings: He’ll figure it out. He’ll likely get kicked. And he’ll figure it out.
A sadistic vote of confidence? Sure. And? That’s all I needed. Luckily, the two chestnut jerks had chains across their noses. I gave their lead lines a tug. Nothing happened. I did it again. Still nothing. Finally a third time, I jerked at the lead line with a solid, steady hand. The jerks got into line. I relaxed, so did the ponies.
It was a crisis. I handled it. Did I handle it well? I don’t know. No one died. Did I handle it as well as I should have? No idea. I did however handle it as well as I could have given the tools I had. It was incredibly stressful though.
Scaling up our ability to lead is sometimes overwhelming. We can feel like we’re surrounded by violent anarchists on all sides. If you panic? They’ll know it. Things get worse.
Sally Baby? I know her intentions are not to torture me, nor to create unsafe circumstances. I think she likes watching me learn. She loves challenging the people she teaches. And, even when I’m ‘just helping out’ around the barn, she’s still my equine mentor and teacher.
I’m the class clown. Given that, I have no problem putting Baby in a corner, no matter how ‘problematic’ she finds it.