ARI’S NEW GAME

Ari is the most famous horse on Kauai. He was a political activist in the last election and campaigned for a would-be lady politician who lost despite Ari’s best effort. He wore a darling blanket made out of a torn white bedsheet and decorated with happy waterproof paint heralding her name and slogan. She was-and is-a greenie, Ari is a roan-that’s bay with sprinkle of white hairs that makes it look red-and he really stood out posing on the road munching and swishing his tail. He thought it great sport and loved all the attention, even when toads in a political  drive-by frenzy, would flip him the bird, make rude noises, and throw things, he wouldn’t bat an eye. Responding to such human indignities was beneath him. He made me proud.

Ari was recovering at the time from major surgery, several rows of stitches all along his under belly, hair shorn, ribs showing proved that. He spent the first three months of his recovery in a paddock I built for him at the house/kitchen end of my barn where I could watch him and he could watch me. Maybe you recall reading about him in my column ARI ME AND VITAMIN C. He’s quite an old horse. In human age he’s older than I, as of the first day of the year, he made ninety. He doesn’t look it and there are moments when he acts like a teenager. He still likes vitamin C and will eat an orange if he feels his vitamin C count is dropping.

Ari sleeps in the bedroom next to mine, a stall that smells of  fresh strewn straw and sometimes  horsey poo and pee which I don’t find offensive. What he’s taken up doing, about six o’clock every morning, is picking up his bucket with his teeth, throwing it around and then when he’s sure he’s got my attention-I turn on lights and mumble-he meanders down to the paddock by the kitchen where he can watch me prepare his breakfast. It’s a messy and complicated procedure. First I have to go down to the barn and find the bucket which, of course, is no longer where I put it-it’s a bucket hunt- and haul it back to the kitchen where I keep his food.

He eats two big measures of alfalfa cubes which must be softened in water first so it’s easier to digest and then dumped sloppy floppy in his bucket. Then in plops a couple handsful of bran, also for digestion, a handful of sea salt-if I give him a lick he chomps it all- and a package of baby carrots stirred and mixed with love and a great big serving spoon.

Now comes the fun. Mind you he’s watched all this, sniffing and snurfing and shifting his feet, and, when I appear in the doorway bucket in hand, he perks his ears and waits for my command.

“Race you to the barn,” I chortle and, on cue, he turns and heads back where he came from. I run, he walks fast or breaks into a trot. So far, he’s letting me win. Will keep you posted.

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