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One Way To Experience Wild Horses In Reno

Image credit: James Marvin Phelps

We used to live in Damonte Ranch. All the way in the very eastern part of the valley. At the time, our subdivision was the farthest thing east, with only the mountain behind us. I would regularly take the dogs (both of whom have gone to doggy heaven since) on walks up to the water tower behind our house. This was back before we had kids so I had time for luxuries like, you know, going on walks and stuff. The path up to the water tower was a great place to walk because there usually weren’t too many other people so the dogs could be off leash. Often we would see a herd of wild horses which was fun for me but I imagine it was somewhat less enjoyable for the horses.

You see, my dog, Ralph, was what you might call a real jackass. When he saw the horses he was required, by the single firing neuron in his dog brain, to run full speed at them, get about 10 feet away and bark continuously for several minutes. My other dog, Spider, used to join in on this activity until he realized that he could save so much energy by not running anywhere. So that’s what he did.

Ralph would charge the horses and bark, bark, bark.

The horses usual reaction was to respond by doing nothing. They would just stand there and stare at this absurd animal who was barking at them, his body wiggling back and forth in an entire body wag. If I know Ralph, he was saying to them, bark, bark, MY NAME IS RALPH, bark, bark, DO YOU WANT TO BE MY FRIEND? Bark, bark, I’M A DOG, bark, bark, bark, ARE YOU ALSO A DOG? Bark, bark.

To which the horses had no response. Usually.

Except for the one night when we came across a herd of nine horses right alongside the trail. Off went Ralph and I started shouting, “Ralphie! No!” I yelled these things out of obligation, not because I believed they’re going to make any sort of difference in Ralph’s actions.

Up to one of the horses ran Ralph and the barking commenced. The horse stared at him for awhile, as Ralph went through his spiel. Except, I guess Ralph was upset at the lack of response and added some kind of insult into his barking. Some “yo mama” joke or something.

Because all of a sudden the horses started whinnying and running. They lined themselves up facing Ralph. Great, I thought, they’re going to charge us. I started screaming a little more seriously, RALPH, YOU SHIT. GET OVER HERE. STOP IT. NO. BAD. GOD DAMN IT, RALPH. YOU ARE SUCH AN ASSHOLE.

You might be shocked to know that these very serious words had absolutely no impact on Ralph. He just kept barking.

One of the horses took this series of events to mean that it was time to hump one of the other horses. Except the horse he chose to hump wasn’t into it so she started kicking the crap out him. She was literally kicking him. Repeatedly. The blows to his stomach, sides and face were not much of a deterrent.

So there we all were, me standing on the path, screaming obscenities at a dog, watching horses hump and kick the crap out of each other, Ralph barking his stupid face off, one horse humping another and Spider standing in the middle of the path wondering if it would be worth the energy to run back to the delicious pile of fresh horse crap we just passed and eat it all.

The other horses got involved and were trying to herd the kicking horse away from the humper. Only the horse being humped had not finished telling the humper how unhappy she was. So she kept chasing him around, kicking him in the face.

And that’s the story of the time my dog, Ralph, incited a riot among the wild horses.


Good times in the Wild West.


About Anna Thornley

Anna Thornley
Anna Thornley is a Jersey Girl living in the Wild West with her husband, their three children (with another one on the way) and two dogs. She desperately misses the beach and humidity but tries to remember to appreciate the beauty of the mountains. She works full-time outside of the home and is generally frantic in her attempts to keep everyone (and everything) moving in the right direction. Her house is a mess, but everyone in it is happy and loved—so she considers it a success. Anna spends almost all of her free time doing laundry. Her family loves to spend time together watching football and playing outside. Anna is still trying to come to terms with the fact that her family expects to eat dinner every single night. Follow Anna on Twitter to keep up with all her family’s antics: @rudeytudeymama

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