The Stink Eye

by Jake Hershey on September 24, 2012

It was probably about six months ago…my wife and I had to run over to her dad’s place and turn his horses out of their stalls for the day.  He lives about an hour away and I hadn’t been there for a long time.  I noticed a new little bay horse.  He was sure a good lookin’ little sucker too, about 14.2 and half as wide as he was tall, low hocks, black feet and a pretty little head.  I asked the wife, “What’s this little bay?”  She said she didn’t really know…her dad had gotten him for a girl that was staying with them to do speed events on.  I proceeded to walk into his stall and put the halter on so I could lead him out and turn him loose.  When I did, he gave me the stink eye.  If you know horses, you know what the stink eye is.  It says, “I ain’t real fond of you mister and I’m thinkin’ real hard about doin’ something to prove it to you.”  This can mean kicking, biting, raring up, striking, etc.  I noticed the stink eye but didn’t think much of it because my father in law usually has gentle horses.  I should have given the stink eye the respect it deserves.  When I went to put the halter on, ol’ bay tried to take a chunk outta my hide with his teeth.  I returned the gesture with a stink eye of my own, accompanied by my hand making contact with his face.  He let me put the halter on and as I opened the stall door, he commenced to trying to run me over.  To make a long story short, ol’ bay was real disrespectful and by the time I got him turned loose I told the wife, “He’s a good lookin’ sucker but he dang sure needs some manners.”   I probably added that if he was on our outfit, he wouldn’t act like that….if I didn’t say it, she knew I was thinking it.

Fast forward to 5 days ago.  My wife walks in the room and says, “Do you remember that bay of dad’s that you liked?”  I wanted to say, “I remember the bay that I liked the looks of but that’s all I liked.”  But in the interest of time I said, “Yeah, why?”  She told me that he had bucked several people off and long story short, hadn’t been saddled for two years.  Her dad wanted to know if I wanted to take him.  “Take him for what?” I asked.  To see if we could sell him, she replied.

I ain’t an old man, but I move like one more often than I’d like to admit.  One of the reasons for that is horses that buck, bite, kick and in general walk around with a permanent stink eye on the world.  I told her the obvious, that he wasn’t worth anything the way he was currently and that I had no interest in getting hurt.  My wife loves animals and wants to see them all get a chance at a good life and so do I…but I’ve about had my share of fixing “problem horses”.  I’d just as soon let some younger, thinner, healthier fella have a chance at fixing the tough ones.  But, I love my wife and she loves animals and I love my wife and she knows it and I love my wife and…..ol’ bay showed up at our place the next evening.  She went and picked him up and when she pulled in the driveway I could already hear the little sweetheart pawing the floor of the trailer and whinnying like an axe murderer.  I opened the trailer door, he turned his head to look at me and there it was again…the stink eye.  He backed off the trailer and it only took about 20 minutes to “lead” him the 35 or so yards from the trailer to the round pen.  I told the wife that he had no respect, acted like a stud, was dangerous and that I wasn’t getting on him for at least two weeks.  I figured it would take that long to “start him over” on the ground.  The first day I didn’t even mess with him.  The second day we had some issues, but I kept reminding him that I was the only friend he had in this world and if he didn’t choose me, the next place he went would be a lot less pleasant than our place.  On the third day I couldn’t believe it, but he was twice as good as he was on the second and I thought he was ready to saddle so that’s what we did.  I jipped him around the round pen and he showed me just how much he disliked saddles by trying to buck it off his back.  But by the time we were done, he had really gotten better.  I told the wife that I couldn’t believe it, but I thought he might be ready to climb on the next day.  The next day was Sunday.  I go to church on Sunday.  While at church, it was decided that we’d have some friends over for supper.  I jokingly told them that I had a bronc I needed someone to get on.  I also told the pastor, who is a former bull rider.  About 8 friends were invited….5 showed up….3 of them were men.  Apparently the rest were too busy or thought I’d make them get on ol’ bay for their dinner.  I had saddled him earlier and jipped him around the pen and he didn’t buck a lick.  Again, he was twice as good as the day before.  When the first friend showed up, I saddled him again for the heck of it.  He didn’t buck again and was better than earlier in the day.  I really hadn’t planned on getting on him so soon and really didn’t want to, but by the time another cowboy showed up I was putting weight in the stirrup and watching the stink eye get less stinky each time I did so.  Major progress.  About that time, the pastor showed up.  I jokinly told him ol’ bay was saddled and ready for him.  He walked in the round pen and asked if I’d warmed him up.  I told him I had.  He told me he’d get on him.  I told him I was just joking earlier, he didn’t have to…although I really didn’t want to.  Well, preacher man stuck a foot in the stirrup, swung up on him and walked off.  He walked, trotted and loped ol’ bay and other than some harsh stink eye ol’ bay never bobbled.  I rode him after he did (lol) and for a good while today.  He was twice as good today as yesterday.  So good that I trimmed his feet when I was done.

It’s never ceases to amaze me….the transformation that can happen in any living thing’s life when it makes the choice to have a loving relationship with its master.  Whether it’s a horse and a cowboy…..or a human and the God that created it in His own image to do great things.  Both horse and human will fight the world and everything in it while living a miserable life.  If only they knew the satisfaction and peace that comes from choosing to follow their master.  Ol’bay still gave me a few stink eyes today and he probably will for quite awhile.  But he also follows me around like a little puppy dog in the pen.  He whinnies when he sees me.  I believe he’s thankful to have some direction in his life and to know that he has a master that loves him and will provide for him.

If you’re feeling like ol’ bay was 4 days ago, know this.  There is a Master that loves you and wants to provide for you.  He wants to give you purpose and direction in your life.  Make the choice to follow Him and see how good life can be.  That doesn’t mean you’ll never give another stink eye or feel like bucking yer tail off…..and your Master knows that.  If you’ll choose to follow Him, he’ll never quit lovin’ you or training you to be all that He knows you can be.  Soon enough, you’ll forget what it was like to have a mean look in your eye or a hump in your back…and you’ll be thankful…forever.

If any man is in Christ, he’s a new creation.  The old is gone and the new has come.  2 Corinthians 5:17


Jake Hershey 9/24/12

Print Friendly

  • Kimberly Woodard

    May have amounted to a good story but as soon as I read you hit the horse in the face that was the end.Hope you don’t spend much time around horses if you continue to abuse yhem.

Previous post:

Next post: