August 25, 2015

…”Eating Horses Don’t Die.” The title of a book Scott was writing. Wish he’d lived to finish it. Would love to read the manuscript. My interest? I hope there are many horse and Scott lovers reading this because I’d like to write about an ‘eating horse’–my beloved Aristotle–who Scott operated on  several years ago. I could write about that time, that incredible surgery, that experience–Ari’s life and times– but I’ll try to stick to the subject.

Ari was bon on Kauai in September, 1987, which makes him 88 and a half horse years old in people years, three years older than I. As a colt he was sent to Honolulu where he was badly abused.  A very proud horse, but spooky, he hated everyone. He was rescued by a lady and her family who loved horses–Scott would’ve loved that story–and I first met him, bought him for a song,  at her barn in May, 1993. There was something about that big roan– the way we looked at each other–that touched my heart.  I brought him home.

The first ‘eating horse’ story: he came at me striking. A big horse coming at you, walking on his hind legs, forelegs boxing the air, is a formidable sight. Taught by a Canadian Mountie, ‘always ‘leave ’em laughing’,  I calmed him down, fixed him a bucket of food and walked over the hill. Sadly.  My horses always have  full run of the land and I could not live with a horse that might attack me.  Several minutes later–I’d left Ari with a full bucket–I heard hooves clopping behind me. I didn’t know what to expect. I turned.  We met eye ball to eye ball. Face to face,

The look in his eyes  said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” We bonded.

Fast forward to his homecoming after the surgery. Scott had put him on  antibiotics, which Ari hated. He fought me.  Came at me striking. I took him off the drug and offered him Vitamin C. He loved it and healed quickly. I gave Scott  the drugs and told him the story. “He even ate oranges,” I said.

“Horses don’t eat oranges.”

“Don’t tell Ari,” I replied, “he hasn’t read that part of the book.”

Today my long- in- the- tooth beloved friend, eats like a horse. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I cook for him in the barn. He watches, making sure I do it right. No skimping. He counts: one large measuring bowl of oat alfalfa soaked in warm water, sprinkled with salt and tossed in his bucket. Another bowl of same dimpled with raw carrots. And one more bowl flavored with bran and laced with molasses on the top.  He licks the bucket. Scott would have loved the sight, but he would have said, as he always did, “Horses have no sense of taste.”

And, once again, I’d have replied, “Don’t tell Ari.”

I hope Scott’s right and Ari never dies.




His name is Scott Sims
July 28, 2015

The ruckus began on Saturday. What a racket. Ari, my beloved old horse, was tossing his feed bucket around like an angry housewife tosses pots and pans.Bang bang. Crash crash. Jangle. Jangle.

He’d had his breakfast: oat alfalfa, salt, carrots, bran and molasses served up with love and kisses on the nose. The bucket tumbled empty. Not a crumb left untouched.  He licks the inside with his long pink tongue, sniffing out the carrot bites, bran and the sweet dark syrupy surprise he loves so well. My father taught me to make a warm mash in the winter and this was the winter of our lives together. Horses have an incredible sense of taste and smell.  Well, look at the size of that nose. It seems to go on forever. Dimpled with kind intelligent eyes–on either side of his noble head, he is prey not predator–  crowned with pointy beautiful ears at the poll and bedecked with long silky hair called a forelock. I’d combed and brushed it this morning.

When I reached his feeding block, he dropped the noise maker–crash, bang, jangle, plop–and gave me that look.

Now any horseman–or woman–worth his salt knows a horse is telepathic. “Never let them put their heads together,”  I was taught by a beloved teacher, ” because they’re plotting.”  I’d experienced that little phenomena, with my own eyes, many time.

But I’d learned, years ago–I live with my horses –that if put my forehead smack against their forehead I can hear what they’re thinking. They understand  English, have their own language, but will communicate with you if you will only listen. “Okay, what’s up?”

Ari is 88 and half years old. 28 in human years. He was born in 1987. He’s three and half years older than I. I was born in 1930. We grow old together and enjoy the process.

“He’s gone to horse heaven.”


“The human who cut me open. Sewed me back. Years ago. Remember?”

“Of course I remember. I was there.”

He nodded. ” Left his body.  Gone to horse heaven.”

“Are you talking as about Scott Sims?”

“That’s what you called him.”

“But Ari, we just heard from him…”

“… I know. They cut him open.  Sewed him back. Four fingers and a thumb are handy.”

With my fingers and thumbs I messaged his ears.

“You did that when I was on my back with my feet in the air. Strange feeling. You have good hands,” he said.

“Thank you. I didn’t know horses believed in heaven.”

“You never asked.”

“Okay, I ask,” A theocratic lecture from a horse?

“There is not only a horse heaven. there is a horse God.”


“Don’t be silly.”

When a horse calls you silly, you can be certain you’re pretty silly.

“But why would he go to horse heaven? If horses have a God and heaven, and humans have a God and heaven– and Scott was human–why wouldn’t he go to a human heaven?”

“Because ours is better.”

“Can I go?”


“I’ll work on it.”

April 25, 2015

It’s been a busy morning. Fed my beloved old horse, Aristotle. I prepare him a warm mash, salt, carrots, bran and molasses. He loves it. My handsome movie star vet, Scott Sims, says horses don’t have a sense of taste. I reply, “Well don’t tell Ari, he hasn’t read that part of the book.” Since I was five, I’ve bribed horses with sugar cubes. Amazing what you can get a horse to do with some sugar cubes in your pocket.

I was taught, as a little girl, a good horse soldier feeds his horse first.

My first riding instructor was General Cress- the Tiger of Luzon-a total pussy cat. He said I was a natural, which pleased my father. His daughter, Cornelia Van Ness Cress, was a brilliant, patient teacher. A lesbian I learned from a gossipy friend of my mother’s. It made no- never- mind to me. I always got to ride her dressage horse, Indian, on foggy wet morning jaunts through the Mills College Campus. She said I wasn’t a ‘lemon drop’ because I was one of the few kids who showed up for lessons on a rainy day. I loved the fog. Still do. Even voggy fog on Kauai. I love the smell of sulfur dioxide in the morning.

Next, two growing up kittens-Reba and Rosa-and my grown up puppy-Boots- get their fare. Today, Duke, the noisy Macaw, who greets me every morning with a cheerful “Hi”,  got fresh water, a  bowl of  parrot food- raisins, peanuts, a crumpled cookie, he has a decided sweet tooth-and  two slices of bananas.

Then I turn a feral hen, and the chick she’s trying to raise, loose to wander and scratch their way into a long day’s journey into night.  Mama’s teaching baby to eat worms and insects and other goodies found in every pile of fallen leaves. Every day her baby gets smarter and bigger. Fluffier, too. This morning she’s teaching it  to fly. She jumped up on a raised bench and clucked, “Come on sweetheart, try your wings.” Today it did. I don’t know if it’s a boy chicken or a girl chicken, but it’s sure cute and, I think, precocious.

Then it’s my turn. A cup of coffee-organic, no GMOs-and half a slice of croissant. No butter. It’s drippy and voggy out and I love watching yellow leaves swing and sway and waft their way to earth.

At 84 ripe I love looking back. There’s a lot to look back on. I love being here.  There’s a lot of here. And I love looking forward.

I love learning. The mother hen is teaching me as well as her baby.

I love time. I love space. We worked hard, my husband and I, to acquire the space. My jungle, which I love. The time, which I got but could not share with him. I love the time I have now to think about our life together. I love to wonder if he would approve. He’d be happy  I’m having fun.