Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cletus, Master of the Urineverse

Content Advisory Warning:

If you are eating while reading this or have issues with bodily functions, you might want to skip this particular blog.

However, if you have ever been a parent, janitor, pet owner, or worked for Dy-Dee Wash, jump right in, the, um, waters warm…

Cletus is my favorite co-worker. He has a work ethic that surpasses even the most dedicated human I've ever been employed with. He has his quirks, like most of us do, but once you understand him, it's okay.

Cletus is leery of box trucks (Fed-Ex, UPS, moving vans, etc.) but only if they are parked and the back door is open. When they are in traffic they just blend in with the rest of the vehicles flying by the carriage. And when you examine a parked truck, from a horse's perspective, I can understand where he's coming from. The monster lies motionless for its prey, huge mouth agape, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to saunter by. Cletus has witnessed the Truckasaurous eat people! Stupid people who have actually walked into its jaws to certain death!

Apparently he's blocked out the part where the people escape, usually carrying a package or piece of furniture.

So when we pass these predators he's always a little suspicious, eyeballing them the entire time until the danger has passed, convinced that they hunger for a tasty snack of non-vigilant draft horse.

He also has a thing about urination. The horses are discouraged from urinating while staging at South Gate. Why? Have you ever smelled horse urine? Besides the vast quantity of fluid that their bladders can hold, it's very pungent. And once one horse "goes" it sets off a chain reaction, and the next thing you know we have our own little river of toxic waste cascading down the gutter. Not exactly an appealing atmosphere to sell rides in. Or, you know, breathe.

So the horses urinate while stopped in traffic. This, I tell my trainees, is why we never stop in the crosswalk, always behind it. And, on a sunny cloudless summer day, if you do step in a big foamy puddle in the middle of an otherwise dry street, that's your punishment for jaywalking. See? You shoulda crossed at the light. No one but yourself to blame.

Anyway, two stories about Cletus and his urine.

The first happened several summers ago. It was a Saturday, warm and beautiful. Cletus and I were very busy, and I knew he had to pee because there are signs:
When we stop for a red light he lifts his tail and "drops." For you non-horsey types, that means his penis descends from its warm little home and hangs down to do the deed. Most of the time from our vantage point this goes unnoticed because the tail is blocking the drivers view. But Cletus has a tail that is crooked. It looks like at some point in his life it was broken, so when he lifts his tail it actually moves several inches to the left, thus allowing an unencumbered view.

Remember, I drive around town staring at a big hairy ass all night. So, you know, you have to find entertainment where you can.

So we had been very busy and every time we stopped for a red light he would begin his pre-peeing preparations and the light would turn green. I tried several times to make his wait and pee but as I have previously said, he's got a great work ethic and apparently to him that means if the light is green we go.

Oh, yeah, the horses know when the light changes. I don't know how; we have our theories, but no one has handed us a muli-million dollar Pell grant to investigate it further, so…

We made it up to Memory Grove, our destination, and back again. My passengers, a young couple, were enjoying the ride, and as we came around a curve I noticed that Cletus had his tail up and had "dropped".

Now, I have never seen a horse urinate while walking. Ours all stop to pee. Most of them can poop while walking (except for Charlie who comes to a full and complete stop to unload, apparently unable to multitask) but peeing on the fly? Not so much.

So Cletus dropped and began to let loose a stream of urine. Oh, and did I tell you that when they "go" they tend to get a little, um, stiff? So Cletus is walking, sporting his stiffie, and urinating. Now, this is where physics comes into play. Because while he's walking, his ding-a-ling is swaying gently to and fro, spraying both of his back hooves and legs with a warm stream of liquid, which really never happens while we're working. Splashing, yes, there is after all a certain amount of PSI unleashed when they piss. But actually hitting them full force on the legs, not really.

I, sitting up top, find this whole scenario fascinating because I have never witnessed a horse walk and pee.

Cletus, apparently not a student of "cause and effect", begins to do a little dance with his back end because he is thinking: "Something's spraying me!!!" This, due to the laws of physics, sends his penis on an even larger arc of sway (the pendulum effect) and it begins to whack him on the inside of his back legs, catapulting him into an even more frenzied bunny hop because now his thought is: "Something's touching me!!!"

I, up top, am doubled over with laughter, at which point my passengers ask, "What's so funny?"

This makes me convulse even more because, let's face it, shall we? It's taken me more than 800 words to bring you to this point, so a one sentence explanation is not going to cut it, and to tell the truth not everyone would find this amusing. There is, after all, a certain "Ick" factor at work here. That would be why I started this story with the Content Advisory Warning. A urine induced River Dance is just not that funny to the average Joe.

So, I stop, Cletus finishes, and we all live happily ever after in a Urine-Event-Free society. Until last Tuesday night.

This one is a little shorter. I had an appointment, with the pickup at The Melting Pot. You might have one in your town. It's a chain of Fondu restaurants. Kind of pricy, and dinner takes about two hours to eat. So I got there about eight minutes early, and pulled Cletus up just past the space for the Valet Parking guys. We usually get along with them all right. I parked Cletus next to a grey sedan. I looked at the trunk of the car, and it has a weird looking "B" on it, which reminded me of the "B" that the Boston Red Sox have on their hats, but a different color. I took a look at the car and thought "Buick?" Naaa, and the "B" was bookended by what looked like wings, so I thought maybe some kid had stuck a sticker on Dad's trunk. Mind you, I've never said I was into cars. Could I pick the Lamborghini from the Ferrari? Probably not, but I'm pretty sure I could pick the Porsche from the Ford.

Anyway, I noticed that Cletus, once he had established that we were stopped, had chosen this opportunity to pee. I looked over at the restaurant windows and was a little relieved to see that the patron's sight-line was blocked by the grey car, so their dining enjoyment would not be ruined by my horses bladder Olympics. Of course there is a bit of splash factor to take into account when he goes potty but the streets were wet from the recent snowfall, so it wouldn't be too obvious. Checking the time I turned to the Valet and said, "I have a pickup at seven, so I'll be out of your way in a couple of minutes."

The valet responded, "You're okay. Just going to hang out by the Bentley, huh?"

Me: (Gulp) looking at the grey car, "Is that what that is?" I might not know what they look like but I recognize that "Cha-ching" sound.

The nice valet said, "Yes." And like most of them, who are in contact with famous people all the time (because famous people don't park their own cars at nice restaurants) he likes to kiss and tell. "Are you a Jazz fan?" he asks. (Utah Jazz, NBA team. Not, you know, a Jazz fan like Kenny G jazz)

"No, not really, but if you say a name…"

"It belongs to Andre Kirilenko."

Good job, Cletus, splashing piss all over the door of Andre Kirilenko's Bentley. Not to mention the puddle…

I thought about it for a minute and decided to come clean.

"You might want to tell him to wipe his feet before he gets in."


Sagebrusheq said...

It's a small world if you're a horseman. I've been following the carriage trade kerfuffle in NYC and that led me to your site where-surprise- I found mention of one of my favorite horse doctors. There can't be more than one Buzz in the Salt Lake Valley. Both Dr Marden and Dr Linford were my vets when I lived in Magna. It's been a few years but tell him Sandy said howdy next time you see him.

Cheers, S

PS I've never seen a horse piss and walk at the same time. Poor guy must have really had to go bad.

Lisa Deon said...

Yes, Buzz is a one of a kind. And of course all the vets know each other. The Carriage barn Vet is Morgan Freeman, DVM, as opposed to Morgan Freeman, member of SAG.

I try to keep track of whats happening around the country where the carriage trade is concerned. There are several informative blogs, and a couple that have boiled down to pissing contests. I try to stay out of that fray. In KC the competition got so acrimonious that one CB owner took a "hit" out on the other. Messy.

Thanks for stopping by. Comment often.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, horsie pee stories. Reminds me of potty training Wes and the time some Japanese tourists actually stopped and started taking pics of Wes peeing in a crosswalk.

Lisa Deon said...

Well, you know, whatever it takes to "round out" that vacation to Utah album...

Anonymous said...

Blogger ate my comment! Summing up:
1. laughed out loud.
2. yes, everyone would find this funny.
3. how do you discourage a horse from relieving himself in a certain area?
4. how's Dreamer?
5. after you discourage a horse, don't you feel a bit guilty?

Lisa Deon said...

how do you discourage a horse from relieving himself in a certain area?

after you discourage a horse, don't you feel a bit guilty?

For a male horse, you see them drop which is the 1st indication, then they "spread 'em", step back and stretch out (Dreamer goes up on tip toe) and then the let fly; If you catch them in time, you back them up. It's that easy.

Then you get your fat ass on your carriage and take them around the corner, stop and let them pee. So, no, dont feel guilty.

Consider, if you will, that during Christmas, the horses can pee whenever the whimsey strikes them. The drivers, on the other hand, stop drinking after 2 pm because we are unable to use the john from 5pm-10pm or so.

Thanks for your continued support, Dusty.

Lisa Deon said...

Oh, and Dreamer is okay. Have had a complex week and will get Buzz back out there next week for another round of "TCBY Stan" with photos.

Belle's personal assistant said...

Ok, I fail this pop quiz, Have you ever told the story of Bill(the horse, not the driver) and the trainee in the driveway of LA?

flowspi --- how do I always get the perfect words for the blogs? I must be living right.

Lisa Deon said...

BPA: No, because the blog is an exposition of my personal experiences not carriage driver lore handed down from person to person. I have heard that story.

Feel free to tell it.

Christina said...

Yay, horse pee stories! (I try to tell these stories to my husband, usually at dinner, and he's less than thrilled.)

Oh, as to the traffic lights, I have your answer. The horses know when the light changes green because the traffic lights make a clicking noise when the cross traffic changes from green to yellow and then yellow to red. (Hence, the horses tend to jump the gun a little bit, but know when to go.)

I've never had a horse piss and walk at the same time, but I have had a horse fool me when I was leading him on foot during a funeral (he was the riderless horse for a police officer's funeral procession) where he planted his hind legs and kept walking with the front without me knowing he was going into his stance.

Lisa Deon said...

I have long subscribed to the theory that there was something in the upper range of audio that we could not hear (being mere humans) that the horses could. Good to know my suspicions were correct. The thing that throws them off is the left turn arrow.

Thanks for the 411!

Lisa Deon said...

Yay, horse pee stories! (I try to tell these stories to my husband, usually at dinner, and he's less than thrilled.)
That is the reason we, when we go to breakfast after work as a group, ask to be seated as far away from the "straights" as possible.

Pee, poop, stupid people, undescended testicles, tampons for dogs; all grist for our conversational mill during a meal.

So, yeah, I get your husbands unwillingness to be subjected. Happens at our house all the time.

Belle's personal assistant said...

The backing up manuever works for most horses. However, Mike B, (the B is for Belgian, as opposed to Mike C, the Clydesdale) would not be backed when he had to pee. The only option was jump on that box and move ASAP to let him pee. He got a little better as the years went by, but when he had to go... I really miss that horse. I should have let him kill that trainee, though...

rusid-- the preferred pronunciation of "rusted" in rural communities

Sagebrusheq said...

I guess it wouldn't be apparent if you were always on paved streets but my experience has been that most, or at least many , horses (some aren't too bright) who are used to working on and off the pavement at intervals will hold it for as long as possible to avoid pissing on the pavement and splashing their legs.
A favorite mare of mine brought this to my attention by always pissing right after I put her in her nice clean stall, never in the cross ties. Then it dawned on me, Ohh.. lead her outside to the grass first: Then put her up- worked every time. I don't usually stall my horses so it took a while to occur to me what was going on. I've noticed it since on many occasions with others.

Anonymous said...

HA Ha Ha!! Of course I was eating when i started reading but that doesn't bother me. I miss Cletus and all the other big pretty horsies. At least I can still read about them.