January 22, 2009 | | Comments 2

Passing Gas

Written by: Maureen Bordelon

Having owned many horses during my lifetime, there is but one that I still think of frequently, but not necessarily fondly.

Charlie was an unregistered Quarter Horse gelding with a very sweet disposition. When I bought him, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why he sold so cheaply. When he arrived home, I soon found out why. He farted…a lot. Never had I been around a horse that was so gaseous. With ugly thoughts of gas colic in the back of my mind, I worried needlessly. The noxious fumes coming from his hindquarters were just a fact of life with Charlie.

While all horses fart at some point, it became Charlie’s true calling. He soon became renowned for his gastric disturbances at the boarding barn. Charlie in crossties sent horse and their owners scrambling for parts unknown. Even the owner of the facility, as part of the introduction of newbies to the barn, would always warn folks about Charlie. In fact, his stall became the first one on the aisle so that there wouldn’t be anyone standing downwind of him.

Charlie Passing Gas

Charlie Passing Gas

His farting became a bigger issue when we began dressage competition. Charlie developed a new habit to go along with passing gas. Each time he passed gas, he would come to an abrupt halt, and turn his head in direction of his hindquarters to find where the noise came from. I didn’t think this was insurmountable, one touch of my heel would send him forward. It was just a matter of predicting his gas and the timing of the heel.

After six months of training, I had become rather adept at predicting Charlie’s gaseous explosions. His ears told the tale. A slight flick of the left ear usually meant a small one was coming. The right ear flat against his head meant slam on the brakes, a head turn, clear the aisle, bombs away. While a little fart didn’t necessitate a stop, the big one did and I had to concentrate on that right ear, along with all the other aids while riding him.

Now dressage is a very formal competition. One rider, one horse, must ride a prescribed pattern in front of a judge. While it sounds simple enough, it’s done in total silence. You may not give any verbal instruction to your horse.

During our first competition, I rode down the centerline confidently. Charlie had passed gas at least ten times prior to our entering the ring so I figured we were pretty safe for the three minutes it took to complete the pattern. We trotted into the ring, halted, saluted the judge, and began the pattern.

The ride was going well; Charlie was on the aids and moving nicely. Toward the end of the pattern, I noticed his left ear was flicking. Not to worry, it was the left one. Feeling confident that noxious fumes weren’t imminent, we continued on.

On rounding the corner, the canter was prescribed for the pattern. I half halted and gave the aid for the canter. Glancing down, there was trouble brewing. His right ear was pinned against his head. True to his genial nature, he picked up his canter lead, but that right ear was still flat. I silently prayed that we could complete our final twenty meter circle without fumes or brakes. Unfortunately, the Man Upstairs was busy. Three quarters of the way around the circle, even with my heel tap, tap, tapping away on his side, Charlie did what he always does. He slammed on the brakes, lifted his tail and farted so loud that it was audible to the next dressage ring twenty five feet away. The innocent turn of his head toward his hindquarters was the capper of the incident.

I looked over to the judge; the judge looked at me and covered her mouth with her hand. She tried not to laugh. However, one of the ladies from my barn started chuckling. The chuckling became outright chortling. Then the entire audience burst out into uproarious laughter. Determined to finish the pattern, I gave poor Charlie a good thump of the heel and he picked up his canter again as if nothing had happened.

We finished the pattern by again trotting up the centerline for the halt and salute. For final emphasis, at the halt, Charlie let one final fart loose. His final explosion was so loud even I was surprised. However, this time, he didn’t turn his head. It was one small victory in the agony of defeat.

After the competition, I picked up my score sheet. Yes, we did actually receive a score. Under the judge’s comments there were only three words, “Obedient, but airy”. Yeah right, very funny.

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  1. Great story, one I can relate to. I can easily “see” and “hear” what you describing as I read the article. Hope to see more articles by you.

  2. Thank you Barbara, for your kind words. I certainly hope I can contribute more as well!

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