Bubba was supposed to be a “30-day Wonder“ = an investment I would ride and train for 30 days, sell for double my costs; then I’d turn around and invest all that money into the next ‘Wonder’ project. Welllll, 8 years later, Bubba was still here - through no fault of his – it was me – I had fallen in love with this now graceful, very tall, flashy Clydesdale-Thoroughbred with a wonderful comedic ‘TAKE LIFE LIGHTLY’ persona. As the years passed, I didn’t get bucked off quite so often. And had grown to appreciate his amazing sense of humor.
As with all comedians – he had great timing, waiting for his punchlines until he knew he was in command of your full attention. Examples? Stepping on your foot slowly increasing pressure backed by his 1,400 pounds. Stealing your baseball cap and not running off until you reached for it. Or just waving it in the air 8 feet above ground. How about waiting until his 40-gallon water buckets were clean and full before putting both hooves squarely in the middle with horrendous, muddy splashing. You know = the usual equine humor.
The day of the disappearing thermometer, I was in a hurry, and did not (yes, did NOT) tie a piece of twine to the 6” glass thermometer. Everyone always tied a ribbon, string, or piece of bailing twine to the loop at the end. But nooooo not me. I’d done this 100’s of times and nothing ever happened. Slowly lift his tail, gently insert 6 inches of cold glass, keep him calm, and wait 3 minutes. Just like all the other times.
In a New York minute, it was gone. Gone! Swallowed - for lack of a better word. I was frozen. All I could do was stare at the last place I’d seen the thermometer. I stared while still holding his tail, knowing if he moved, walked off, or spooked: he’d take the glass and mercury further inside.
When I was out of ideas, adrenaline, and prayers – the thermometer reappeared. Just like that… as quickly as it had disappeared – it reappeared. I grabbed it, pulled, and walked backwards not caring if I stumbled and fell. I had the Crown Jewel, the Sword of Lancelot in my grasp. I was the guilt-laden hero of the hour.
Bubba swung his massive head around, tossing his forelock and mane like a pubescent boy swinging his hair to one side. Bubba fixed his eyes squarely on mine. As I continued to back away with the glass treasure held high; he kept watching me.
Was he smiling? Yes, truly, there was a wry smile on his face. I saw it. And not for the last time, either. As the years went by, he had more to teach us, lots more, always using his special talent for humor.