Horses, taco cats and a plan for surviving the next four years

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I just saw a New Yorker cartoon that sums it up for me: One person says to the other, “My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.”


That’s where I’m at. I watch the news through one eye, half-squeezed shut, and when I hit the “Gaaaahhhh!” stage, shut it off. Trumplethinskin does and says more outrageous and inane things in one day than other presidents did in their entire terms. I have psychological whiplash from trying to watch the daily train wrecks. My husband called it “like drinking from a fire hose.” Exactly. Take one sip and you’re blown 50 feet away, landing in a soggy heap, coughing and gagging. It’s too much, too fast. I can’t do this for the next four years. I just can’t.

As an “I can’t even” statement, I changed my Facebook profile photo to a kitten in a taco shell, because cat tacos make absolutely no sense. They make “does not compute” waves bounce around my brain. However, unlike our current state of affairs, cat tacos also make me smile.

I don’t know why.

But if it makes me smile, I’m keepin’ it.

Also, “taco cat” is a palindrome: it reads “taco cat” forward and backward. That seems like it should be mystical or symbolic, but no, it’s just random serendipitous nonsense, and that also makes me smile.

Taco cat, take me away!

Besides taco cats, I’m also keeping my stress level below the boiling point with horse therapy. Turns out, horses cost about the same as human therapists, who will hardly ever let you tie them to a post and brush them to calm your nerves. Some people rake sand … my zen is moving a brush over horsehide. It’s better than Xanax, and I’m here to say that you — yes, you — need that serenity for yourself.

I know, I know, you’re already yelping “too expensive” or “too dangerous” or “I don’t know where to start” or “I don’t know anything about horses,” and I get it. I yelped, too. Although I’m quite experienced with horses, that was “once upon a time.” At my age and with what I so affectionately call my “income,” having a horse again was surely impossible.

And then the impossible happened.

It’s as if everything in the universe lined up to plop Pendragon in my lap. And yes, there were angels involved: A friend who brought us together, a husband who offered to cover the financial gap and most of all, a woman who loved her horse so much that she gave him to me when she could no longer take care of him properly. But why did it happen at all? I posed this question to a friend one day, and she immediately responded, “Because you need to write about it!”


Of course!

Sure, now there’s a future book rolling around in my subconscious, but for now, let’s start here.

Forget everything you ever knew about horses, which is probably “something you control and teach to obey.” Also, forget about riding them. Horse therapy begins on the ground. My epiphany came from a book: “Zen Mind, Zen Horse: The Science and Spirituality of Working With Horses” by Allan J. Hamilton, M.D. The book focuses exclusively on groundwork rather than riding, and provides enlightenment on how horses think.

Yes, horses think! They’ve been maligned as dumb beasts for centuries, but that’s mainly because humans have a nasty habit of devaluing anything they don’t understand. They attempt to communicate with horses as they would with humans, and become frustrated or irate when the horse “refuses” to cooperate. It’s not the horse’s fault — it’s ours! Hamilton explains that unlike humans, with a left (verbal) and right (spatial) brain, horses have two right brains and communicate in very subtle non-verbal ways, even through “chi” (energy). Sure, we can teach a horse to understand and obey, but imagine turning that situation around, and learning to speak the horse’s language. You’ll discover that horses are teachers too.

And there’s your therapy. Your stress relief. Your zen.

So, relax, yelpers. Here’s a safe, cheap, non-committal start: Just read that book. You don’t have to fuss over all the reasons why you can’t have a horse for now. Just read. At the very least, reading is a respite from obsessing about all that chaos and terror over which you have no control.

What’s the next step? Google. Search “rescue horses” and you’ll discover that Penn, my magical storybook horse, is not unique. Not at all. There are literally thousands upon thousands of horses out there, extremely well-trained, but due to age or injury, are no longer “useful.” So they can’t gallop around a track our soar over obstacles. I can’t either. These horses still have so much life in them (10 or 20 years) and make outstanding companion animals… living, breathing, therapy that clops along on four hooves.

And here’s the kicker: All those older, well-mannered, loving but unloved horses, if not adopted, end up getting get slaughtered. Some end up on European dinner plates, others in your dog’s dish. It’s absolutely tragic, and such a waste. These lovely old horses have so much to offer. And somewhere out there, there’s one waiting just for you. You’ll know when you meet him/her. You’ll get that love-at-first-sight “bonk” right between the eyes. You’ll know. Just like true love, you won’t be able to stop thinking about that horse.

Just do it.

Yes, it’s expensive. But get creative, if need be. People share airplanes and condos and boats… why not horses? Open your mind to the possibility and see what doors the universe opens. And may it be a barn door!

So, if you just “can’t even” right about now, go explore the possibility of welcoming a nice old horse into your life. Serenity walks on four hooves. Right at your side. A horse will help you get through this. And also, taco cats.

— Email Debra DeAngelo at; read more of her work at and

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