So, You Think You Love Horses? Some Reflections on the Nature of Horses and Man

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Maria's Story or The Exciting Events at Greenspring Hollows Academy (Equine Humor)

Maria Boccamotore
Maria Magdalena Boccamotore, age 14, occasionally accompanies the accidental horseman and his wife on their rides. Full of enthusiasm, she sort of shows up from nowhere. Although her family owns a chain of tanning salons in Lancaster County, PA, she is a student at the exclusive girls boarding school Greenspring Hollows Academy in Baltimore County, MD. You might say that Maria is a pretty girl with her brown eyes and dark hair, but her mother believes that she has become neglectful of her appearance since becoming interested in horses.

Maria’s mount is Atlas, a 13.5 hand Percheron-miniature donkey cross of decidedly unusual conformation that I have somewhat generously referred to as a pony. Maria’s parents purchased Atlas a year ago from Reginald Bogy for $20,000 and had him shipped east from Bogy’s Percheron breeding farm located near De Queen, Sevier Co., Arkansas.

Atlas was born in Arkansas
De Queen
Just how Atlas came to be born is anyone’s guess. Bogy, the local Chevy dealer, had taken his prize winning Percheron mare, De Queen’s Lolita, to be bred, and the vet announced that Lolita was already pregnant, much to Bogy’s surprise. Ten months later Atlas was born, and it was quite obvious that the sire was Squirt, Cora Coulter’s 36" tall miniature donkey stud. Cora Coulter is Bogy’s third cousin and lives on an adjoining property. Suspicion immediately fell on Cora’s 24 year-old son Clyde Coulter who lives at home and has a local reputation both as an inebriate and practical joker. Cora, who is not to be pushed around, promptly showed up at Reginald’s door and demanded her stud fee and Reginald, a man who has spent his life bargaining with people, absolutely refused. The two of them have a case before the Sevier County Small Claims Court and everyone in De Queen is expected to show up for the fun.

There has been bad blood between Clyde and Reginald ever since Reginald accused Clyde of smashing his mailbox and the two got into that fist fight at the family reunion. The reunion had been held annually since 1868 and had assumed elements of a sacred occasion in the minds of the older relatives. The fight offended their sense of proper decorum, and for a time certain people would not speak to either of them. When Reginald began to notice relatives driving new GMC trucks, he began to bad mouth Clyde every chance he got. Clyde, for his part, retaliated by engineering a series of practical jokes with Reginald as his victim. The best known one was the weekend that Reginald was supposed to be at the Baptist men’s retreat. In fact, he was with a friend at the Turkey Point Red River View Lodge. Clyde had followed them out that night and pulled the fire alarm at the lodge. Another guest recognized the well-known auto dealer standing in the parking lot, and pretty soon Mrs. Bogy could not understand why certain people in town made turkey calls whenever her husband walked by.

The County Fair where Maria got Atlas
The Fair
Meanwhile Reginald Bogy found Atlas an embarrassment and kept unsuccessfully trying to trade him to someone. No one in Sevier County was interested since they all knew the pony was “in litigation,” and the court date kept being postponed. At last Bogy heard that there might be someone over in Idabel, Oklahoma who might be willing to trade a dairy goat for Atlas, and Bogy arranged to meet him at the McCurtain County fair. Under the cover of darkness, Bogy snuck Atlas over the Sevier County line and arrived early at the McCurtain County fairgrounds only to be stood up by the man he was to have met. Bogy was in a bad mood leading Atlas back to the trailer when he happened to run into the Boccamotore family who had been visiting Mr. Boccamotore’s brother and owner of a dry cleaning business in nearby Broken Bow. For Maria, it was love at first sight. She absolutely wanted a pony, and she absolutely had to have Atlas. What Maria saw in Atlas is anyone’s guess, but love is blind. Reginald Bogy knew an opportunity when he saw one, and Mr. Boccamotore, an indulgent father, knew nothing about horses. Bogy pointed out that Atlas was one-of-a-kind. In the same breath, he said that soon Percheron-miniature donkey crosses will become all the rage in the horse world and that he expected a registry will be established. The Boccamotores bought his sales pitch hook, line and sinker, and the family soon became the proud owners of the county’s only known Percheron-miniature donkey cross.

Maria and Atlas arrived at Greenspring Hollows Academy full of enthusiasm and dreams of equestrian glory. Maria planned to try out for the school’s elite equestrian team. However, the seniors on the team were absolutely horrified that an animal of Atlas’ appearance might end up on their team and appear in the same show ring as their high priced, totally gorgeous mounts. Meanwhile, Mr. Boccamotore made generous contributions to the school and totally ingratiated himself to the headmistress and the board. The night before the tryouts, the seniors led Atlas out of the stables and hid him in an abandoned stone buttery building located on the school property. They left him with a supply of hay and water and wedged the door closed.

Early that morning Maria showed up to groom Atlas and discovered the stall door open and Atlas missing. She panicked and called absolutely everyone on her cell phone. Soon the entire campus was in an uproar. The headmistress organized a desperate search of the campus, calling in most of the faculty, groundskeepers, and other members of the staff. Meanwhile, not knowing what was going on, on the other side of the campus one of the precocious senior girls had arranged to meet her boyfriend for a little get together at the old buttery. The buttery had a reputation of being haunted and most people on campus avoided it. It was the prefect place to be left undisturbed this time of day. They had already pulled off a few items of clothing when they were surprised to find the door wedged closed. On releasing it, they were totally horrified by what they saw. Wide-eyed Atlas, who had missed feeding time and knew it, emerged from the darkness and burst through the doorway, screaming in a high-pitched whinny. The kids were not expecting to see this and that Atlas was a pony did not even register in their minds. Knowing the stories of the haunted buttery, they turned tail and ran down the main campus road in a state of undress and screaming to the top of their lungs. The headmistress would have punished both of them severely were it not for the fact that they would not stop trembling and eventually had to be taken to a well-known psychiatric hospital located in Towson, MD where they are still in therapy.

Atlas, for his part, had all the intentions of heading back to the barn, but the sound of the two kids screaming at the top of their lungs spooked him, and he veered off and ended up in the quiet surroundings of the headmistress’ cottage and in her beautifully-manicured flower bed . Meanwhile, the headmistress had her hands full with the two half-clothed teenagers whose screams had attracted the attention of the entire student body. Someone had called 911 and to make matters worse the Baltimore County Police arrived on campus asking all kinds of questions. While she was thus distracted, the coach of the riding team, the formidable Hildegard von Westenhexe, decided to go ahead and hold the tryouts. She resented all of the political pressure by Maria’s father and the board to put Maria on the team. Maria herself soon became inconsolable. She had lost both Atlas and a place on the team.

About one hour later, the grounds crew found Atlas in the headmistress’ flower bed, which at this point resembled a World War One battlefield. Several of them needed to be cuffed and led away by the Baltimore County Police when they tried to go after Atlas with shovels. The headmistress spent the rest of the day in bed under sedation. Some say that Greenspring Hollows will never be the same, and the events are still a topic of barn gossip all over Baltimore County. The only ones who knew the full story were those senior girls on the equestrian team, and they had the presence of mind to close ranks and not say a thing. While the rest of the campus was in an uproar, they returned to the buttery and erased all evidence of Atlas’ occupancy. By the time the story of the two kids was investigated, the staff was puzzled that the buttery looked very normal and that even the clothing that should have been discarded at the site by the couple was nowhere to be found.

Once Maria was reunited with Atlas, their bond became deeper and now they are quiet inseparable. The irrepressible Maria still hopes for equestrian glory, and maybe some day her time will come.

Explanatory Notes: The truth about what has been going on in De Queen.


The Second Part of the Story: Additional Pandemonium at the Greenspring Hollows Academy
The Third Part of the Story: Atlas Goes to Hollywood
The Fourth Part of the Story: Atlas Goes to Court
The Fifth Part of the Story: Atlas hits the Road

Yours truly,
The Accidental Horseman.

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