It was last Saturday morning, on April 28 and for once, I didn't drool, cough, hiccup or come off sounding like the village idiot. June, the interviewer, actually read and enjoyed my book and asked all the right horsey questions and I had a blast. It gives me hope for future interviews since my past has been spotty.
One of the questions that came up was one I'm frequently asked. How I got started. Well, I seem to be the epicenter of weird and unusual horse - uh - dramas, and these became the basis of stories I started writing for The Chronicle of the Horse, a well known horse magazine. I wrote for the Chronicle for over thirteen years, as a feature writer, and even won an award or two. With one story leading to another, and some enthusiastic fan mail along the way, the idea of a book was born.
One of my fondest stories is about The Horse in the Kitchen. I never got around to writing this for the Chronicle and I still reserve the right to tuck it into a book somewhere, but it was how I acquired my old tb, Loom. He belonged to Lizzy, a friend of mine. He was 16.1 hands, a chestnut, and was around eight or nine years old at the time this happened. It was early morning and I got a phone call. I get a lot of phone calls from horse friends, mainly because I am a fairly calm person in the face of calamity. I get all excited afterwards, my voice goes up three or four notches and I get absolutely untethered, but during, during, I am an oasis of calm. So, it's around nine in the morning and Lizzy calls to ask for my help. She is whispering into the phone, so as not to scare her horse. Now this is the era before cell phones, right in the middle of the era of kitchen wall phones, so after Lizzy informs me that she is in her kitchen and doesn't want to spook her horse, I get a tad suspicious.
"Where's the horse, Lizzy?" I ask her, in a nice calm voice.
"In the kitchen with me," she whispers into the phone. "He's licking the kitchen sink."
"Where?" I ask her again, my nice calm voice now betraying my disbelief with a high little treble.
"In the kitchen, with me," she says, a little louder now. "I was taking a shower and I came downstairs and he was IN THE KITCHEN."
"How on earth did he get-" I start, but she interrupts me.
"Just get here," she scream-whispers. "He's in the garbage pail now, and if he spooks, it's going to be awful. I just installed new linoleum. PLEASE GET HERE!"
My voice might stay calm when I'm under stress, but my driving skills are anything but. I leapt into my car like Batman, and raced across a highway, careening down side streets, skidding around corners, and do what is normally a fifteen minute drive in five plus. There is no one around when I pull up to Lizzy's house, so I let myself in through the back door. Lizzy is absolutely correct. There is a 16.1 hand chestnut ex-racehorse standing in the middle of her not-very-big kitchen, calmly chomping on the remains of a wilted salad from the previous night.
"We've got to get him out of here," I say with what is the understatement of the century.
So, under my supervision, Lizzy feeds him carrots from the fridge, while I s-l-o-w-l-y push all the chairs and the kitchen table and the microwave and cart to one side of the room. And then, because I am a dressage person, I take the horse by his halter and move him sideways, doing a lovely and quite elegant demi-pirouette, right there, in front of her stove. He ends up facing the back door and I lead him out.
I also bought him that afternoon, because I figure a horse that is so athletic, that he can do a nice turn on his hindquarters next to a big kitchen set, a television and a baker's rack, is a horse for me. He did do well in dressage, his purchase gave Lizzy enough money to replace her linoleum, which her husband did not believe came with all the horseshoe shaped cuts in it, and everybody was happy. The rest of my horses were acquired in more traditional ways.
That's what I mean about how stories seem to fall into my lap.
It was a nice radio show.