The very idea that a horse might be able to talk was ridiculous. And yet that was the premise of a funny American TV Show called "Mr Ed". I can still hear the theme song now - "A horse is a horse, of course, of course/ And no one can talk to a horse of course/ That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed!"
The show was first aired in 1961 and ran for six seasons. The star of the show was a palomino called Bamboo Harvester.
I hadn't thought of "Mr Ed" for years until this very afternoon when I was walking through the village of Millthorpe. I had just passed the entrance to Cordwell Farm when a grey-white gelding galloped towards the galvanised gate to his field in order to check me out.
I scratched his cheek and patted his neck and emitted a few sentences including, "There's a good boy!", "I haven't got any food for you!" and "I don't really like horses!"
Then I carried on my way, not realising that there was another gate further along the hedgerow. Sure enough, the horse galloped along to this second gate and once again put his great big equine head over the top bar.
I ignored him and carried on, I had only taken a couple of strides when I heard a voice saying quite clearly, "And I don't like people!" I turned round and shook my head rapidly. There was nobody there just the damned horse. I did a double take.
The horse chuckled, showing his big horsey teeth, "Don't look so surprised pal! Horses are more intelligent than you might think!" His voice was deep but unlike Mr Ed, he spoke in a broad Derbyshire accent. To say I was astonished would be to make a massive understatement.
A couple of cars passed by and a wave of self-consciousness passed over me. After all, I was standing on the roadside talking to a ruddy horse! If anybody saw me they would think that I was a nutcase. Perhaps I am. I had to pinch myself to confirm that this encounter was not just happening in my head.
The horse asked for my name so I asked for his. He is called Noddy and he is six years old. There was another horse in the field called Blaze but Noddy described him as "Thick as two short planks. He can't talk like me pal."
I laughed and then Noddy said, "Fancy a ride Mr Pud?"
"What do you mean?"
"A ride round the field on me back!"
"But you haven't got a saddle and I haven't got a riding helmet!"
"You'll be okay. I'll take it easy. Ever been on a horse?"
I could only remember one other occasion. It was when I was a camp counsellor in Ohio. We were trotting along a woodland path in a line and then my horse bolted. It was all I could do to hang on. Perhaps that nameless horse had been stung or spooked in some other way.
I used the gate to climb up on Noddy's back. He snorted and whinnied and then he began a gentle trot around his field. Blaze watched in bemusement. And then I realised that Noddy's gentle trot was turning into a run.
My bottom bounced painfully upon his spine as I clasped his mane. Noddy was laughing but I was begging him to stop. The run had turned into a full blown gallop and I was terrified about falling off. Briefly, I pictured myself in traction in a hospital bed but I needn't have worried. "Stop! Stop!" I yelled. Noddy slowed down and took me back to the gate so that I could dismount.
"I enjoyed that!" he declared.
"Good for you!" I said, with my legs wide apart like John Wayne. My arse (American: ass) felt as sore and swollen as a baboon's red butt.
"Will you come again?" asked Noddy.
"Well please bring carrots next time. And maybe an apple or two. Not those cooking apples. The sweet ones!"
I smiled and patted Noddy on his neck then he snorted and bounded off across the field again.
Walking through the fields to Horsleygate and up the hill to Holmesfield, I reminded myself that he is only six years old. Not the kind of horse with which one could have a serious, adult conversation but I still plan to bring him carrots and sweet apples.
And that next time, you could also bring a cushion to stuff into your pants so that your bum won't suffer from another gallop.ReplyDelete
It sounds as though you are speaking from experience!Delete
It sounds like Noddy was lonely and hungry. And you're not a nutcase to talk to a horse - I talk to animals all the time!ReplyDelete
Is your surname Dolittle?Delete
Are you sure that wasn't a night mare?ReplyDelete
Ha!...or an old NAG!Delete
Noddy is a very brave geldingReplyDelete
What? For giving me a ride?Delete
yes! big, strong, manly man that you are! He must have been exhausted from carrying all that muscular fleshDelete
You are on unstable ground Madame!Delete
See, you do like horses really! :)ReplyDelete
I once barbecued biffe de cheval in France. Very tasty.Delete
When is your next doctor's appointment?ReplyDelete
Doctor - no! Psychiatrist - yes! She Skypes me every day.Delete
Have you been eating "funny" brownies? lolReplyDelete
That's a beautiful horse.
Funny brownies? Good grief woman, this isn't Canada you know!Delete
Wasn't Mr. Ed eventually scrapped because they attached wires to the horses mouth to make it move? Hope you didn't so that.ReplyDelete
Your claim is libellous Mr Dunham.Delete
Tis on Wikipedia: Alan Young recounted: "It was initially done by putting a piece of nylon thread in his mouth. But Ed actually learned to move his lips on cue when the trainer touched his hoof. In fact, he soon learned to do it when I stopped talking during a scene! Ed was very smart."Delete
I suspect I'd quickly learn to do it if the alternative was having my lips pulled about with nylon thread.
I enjoyed this post on several levels. I enjoyed encountering the alliterative phrase, "a grey-white gelding galloped towards the galvanised gate" and knowing we were in for a good time. I enjoyed the double entendre in the exchange "Will you come again?" "Maybe." and wondering how many others caught it. I enjoyed thinking about my childhood and watching Alan Young on Mr. Ed. And I enjoy pointing out now that Noddy is not a palomino but an Appaloosa (or whatever Appaloosas are called in the U.K.).ReplyDelete
In England, Appaloosas are known as palominos. Do you and Madam Brague have a talking horse in the garage?Delete
Well you certainly did not rein in your imagination on this one.ReplyDelete
I always thought that Mr. Ed was creepy. And who the hell keeps a horse in the suburbs? And who hangs out with his horse all the time when he has a wife who looked like that poor unsuspecting wife in that series? Oh, it was just too bizarre.
When I watched it, I thought that was how all Americans lived.Delete
You have a rich fantasy life, YP.ReplyDelete
I've never seen Mr. Ed. For some reason, unlike many '60s TV shows, it never made it into the lineup of reruns on TV when I was a kid. Maybe it was just too stupid the first time around. (And yet, inexplicably, ran for six seasons!)
"Mr Ed" was brilliant. You and Dave could veg out on the sofa watching all 143 episodes. It would be a cultural awakening.Delete
Almost every time I walk past an animal when I am out and about I talk with it...share a pleasant conversation.ReplyDelete
I find animals make far more sense than most humans do these days.
I do love a good horse story and your dapple grey Noddy is a beauty.ReplyDelete
My first love was Mr Ed and I don't know about America in the early 60's but in the northern suburbs of Sydney Australia -on what is known as the North Shore the lucky girls had horses and yes they were kept in peoples back yards. I had a friend whose Cubby was turned into a stable for her horse. I was honored to be able to clean up after her horse!
As much as I scrimped and saved my hard earned pocket money delivering grocery sales brochures around the neighborhood my parents refused my pleas for a horse. Subsequently it was my lifes ambition to have a horse or two and
I actually have had over 40 as well as a stud and riding establishment.
Alas none now - my last dear soul died at 45years of age after 33years in my care - but I do have happy memories of our days riding the mountains and valleys around where we used to live.
I wonder why you are not that enamored dear Pud - animals are a lot more intelligent than folks generally give them credit for and like folk there are some smarter than others. I suppose I am more an animal lover than a people one.
Reading the story of your encounter with Noddy reminded me of a short story I once wrote named "Silver" that I later included in Billy Ray Barnwell Here: The Meanderings of a Twisted Mind. You may have read it way back when but it occurred to me that you might enjoy reading it again:ReplyDelete
Never put your trust in a horse called Noddy.ReplyDelete
Whenever I am near a horse, I always say "Hello Wil-BUR"."ReplyDelete
It gets a laugh from anyone that is my age...anybody that is younger they look at me like I am crazy.