Pam Stone: Guess I'll have to lead my own donkey next time ...


Published: Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 3:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 7:59 p.m.

The story behind Paul's broken finger has been, if nothing else, an original anecdote for those curious enough to ask.

As it is his pinky, sticking straight out at an angle within a miniature splint and taped to the finger next to it, pulling them both away from his remaining digits, I suggested he tell everyone he was having tea with the queen and it became stuck like that, but this advice was ignored.

“Or you can say it's been this way ever since you went to a Star Trek convention,” I egged, for if a comedian doesn't succeed with her first punchline, she will continue to dig for the humor until finding something that works.

“You know, ‘live long and prosper?' ”

Crickets. Nothing but crickets. Tough room.

“Have it your way,” I shrugged. “Tell everyone you were handling a donkey irresponsibly.”

“I didn't have his lead rope wrapped around my hand,” Paul retorted, hotly. “I told you that. The first thing you asked was, ‘You didn't have the rope wrapped around your hand, did you?' and I told you I didn't. I was holding it while I was locking the gate behind him and he took off, gave me rope burn, and the end of the rope with the knot in it caught around my finger.”

Paul has learned quite a lot about horses and equids since we've been together: subtle signs of colic, how to instinctively move out of the way to avoid getting stepped on (although it took two badly bruised toes to learn this lesson), how to blanket and even how to clean a stall, though he goes out of his way not to do it thoroughly.

I do the same thing when it comes to cooking: Knowingly substitute sugar for salt and burn enough pans, and the hopeful request for a prepared meal need never come again.

“Just for next time, remember this,” I suggested. “Teddy can be rude, so always wear gloves when leading him anywhere. Secondly, whenever you lead him through a gate, turn him back around so that he's facing the gate as you fasten it behind you. That way he can't take off like he did before, whipping you around.

“Thirdly, when you lead him to the field and he starts pulling on the lead, give it a couple of quick snaps and tell him ‘no.' It's no different than if you were walking a dog. You wouldn't allow a dog to drag you along — you give a snap to the lead, correct them, then praise them and continue.”

“Or,” Paul mused, “we can try the fourth idea.”

“Which is?”

“Lead your own stupid donkey in the future.”

Normally, I do lead my own stupid donkey. Every morning. When stalls have been mucked out and everyone fed breakfast, each horse is turned out into either fields or paddocks.

Teddy is always last because he is the most difficult, and when I lead him out of his stall, I can leave each gate open through which we pass. However, after my mother broke her hip, I had been sitting with her, and on this particular day, which had started with heavy rain, I had asked Paul if he wouldn't mind turning Teddy out after the skies cleared.

He good-naturedly agreed, and Teddy, feeling fresh from having been cooped up, bolted, and I was met by a thunderous brow and a bandaged finger when I returned home.

“You're on track to never becoming a donkey whisperer,” I said matter-of-factly, and sat down to check email.

“Ask me if I care,” Paul replied, then added, “You'd better start thinking about dinner tonight, too.”

I looked up, questioningly.

“Because,” he explained with a note of triumph in his voice, “I can't lift anything with this hand or do any sort of chopping for at least five weeks. So it's up to you. Either learn to cook or order in — on your tab.”

Stupid donkey.

Reach Pam Stone at Pam@thesatisfiedlifenetwork.com.

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