Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"Equine Burden"

The Concise Oxford Dictionary – which, by the way, is 1632 pages long so it may want to open itself up and check the meaning of the word because no book you can barely lift should be considered “Concise” – and by the way again, which words did they leave out of the “concise” version that they included into the “Multi-Book”, and how did they decide which ones to exclude?

“Yeah, it’s a word.  But we are trying to be concise.”

Or is the “Multi-Book” just the same words with bigger print?

Anyway… I’m lost.


Okay, I’m back.

I looked up the word “burden”, and I noticed that, as a verb, “burden” means:

“load with a burden:  encumber, oppress.”

“Encumber, oppress.”  That was precisely the meaning I was hoping for, which, if it didn’t exist, would seriously weaken my presentation to the point of abandoning this undertaking entirely, but now I don’t have to because it’s right.

What made me look up the word “burden”?

Two words.

Or more accurately a name:

“‘Hoss’ Cartwright.”

Allow me to backtrack.

With the availability of The Westerns Channel, watching westerns remains my “Go-to” location for protection from chaos, or what others call “life.”  I have mentioned elsewhere that all I have to do is see a horse ride into view and my blood pressure immediately relaxes.  I felt relaxed just writing that sentence.

Watching westerns was my “sanctuary.” 

Until “reality” kicked in.  (And I do not mean the actual history of the West.  Though that does keep me from watching western movies made after 1953.)

What recently changed is, when I now see a rider dismounting, I can almost hear the horse they rode in on go,

“Thank you.”

I mean, riding the range hither and yon – which can be “a f’ur piece” in the Pecos – and that cayuse looks plumb tuckered out.  (Translation:  The horse looks exhausted.)

I know it’s anthropomorphic to say this, but stick with me, ‘cause I want you to.

Carrying an adult person on your back for hours at a time, often through rough and undulating terrain?

What noise would you make when they finally stepped down from the saddle?

I don’t know either.  Likely a blend of relief and unspoken chagrin.

I don’t even want to think about “riding double.”  “Burden” doesn’t come close to covering that atrocity.  Two adult-sized bodies.  Two pair of spurs.

RIDER ONE:  “Quit kickin’ ‘im.  He’s going fast enough.”

RIDER TWO:  “Not for me.”

“BURDENED” HORSE:  “When you discussed ‘riding double’, if would have been nice to include me.”

“Single” or “double”, horses were never consulted about carrying people around on their backs.  There was no "What do you say?"  Someone fearlessly jumped on, and the rest is history – good for the rider, bad for the horse.

UPBEAT HORSE:  “It’s kind of nice, providing a service.”


I am aware of our cultural preference for cheeriness.  But before casting negative aspersions – if “aspersions” does not already connote “negative”, and I am unwilling to check the “concise” dictionary to find out – consider that that horse that is in low spirits may have been the selected mount of – and here we get to it – “‘Hoss’ Cartwright” on Bonanza.

“‘Hoss’ Cartwright” (played by actor Dan Blocker) – this I did look up:

“Six foot-four, 320 pounds.”

You want to haul that guy around the Old West?

What say we hear a few words from the victim?

‘HOSS’ CARTWRIGHT’S HORSE:  “I remember the first day of filming.  The ‘series regulars’ are choosing who they’ll ride on the show.  Three regular-sized guys, and a mountain.  With a really tall hat.

“Comes ‘The Big One’s’ turn to pick horses.  I try ducking behind another horse, so he won’t see me.  I mean, even the script calls him ‘Hoss!’  That’s me, with two legs.  “Wouldn’t you know it?  He goes, ‘That’s a smart one – he wants no part of me.  I’ll take him.’”

“Thirteen years, he rode me.  “You heard of ‘sway-back’ horses?  Look at me!  I’m just a big ‘U!’

“Every night, I’d come home after ridin’ the range, the wife’s there with the heating pad.  No Aleve.  She rubbed hay on me.  That’s all we had.

“In one episode, they wrote in a ‘girlfriend.’  ‘Hoss” says, ‘Do ya wanna ride double?’  I heard that and immediately called up my agent.  He told me not to be ‘difficult.’ 

“Just once, I heard ‘Do you want to ride me?’  It was a long day.  I must have had sunstroke.”

“When he died, I cried.  Not being a phony.  I got kicked off of the series!

I can’t afford to drop westerns ‘cause I feel bad for the horses.  I require my “refuge.”

But I cannot watch Bonanza.

That horse looks too sad. 

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