September 2015 - Horsey Humor
Written by Bob Goddard
Tuesday, 01 September 2015 23:21

Twine Awareness

As I walk into the barn, I can’t help but notice the collection of bailing twine hanging from my instructor’s neck like a rustic version of a Hawaiian flower lei. Or perhaps a pale imitation of those beads the girls earn at Mardi Gras. I’m careful not to ask what she’s been up to this morning.


Actually, there is nothing out of the ordinary here. Sensei always seems to have bailing twine clinging to her person in one way or another. It dangles from her pockets or she might have a few strings slung over a shoulder like an ammo belt. Sometimes she holds on to a string or two while talking and multitasking, only vaguely aware that there is something in her hand. I can hold out my palm and she hands the string to me, oblivious. I think this is similar to the process by which some people get rich.


Of course, it’s not in my nature not to comment on her new wardrobe accessory.

“Nice necklace.” It’s always smart to compliment your instructor before a lesson.

She chuckles. “Well, we can’t leave it on the floor, can we?”

Hell no we can’t leave it on the floor! I’ve been properly schooled in this matter. I’ll never forget the time I did leave a string of bailing twine on the floor. It triggered a wrath in Sensei that I rarely see. Here was a critical learning moment, the lesson material consisting of an angry litany of what-ifs.

“Would you like to pull that from one of my horse’s rear ends?”

I assumed the question was rhetorical and I chose not to answer. Obviously, she had more to say.

“And that’s if you’re lucky. If one those strings get mixed up in the hay and the horses eat it, it can cause them to colic.”

Colic. Such a common, simple word. But, oh, the implications of those two syllables can be profound and complex. It is a powerful and threatening word, never to be taken lightly in a barn situation. Like “fire.”

“Or maybe you would be fascinated to see what happens when my horses’ legs get tangled up in it?”

Nothing cuts so deep as angry sarcasm spoken with a German accent.

“And do you have money in your pocket to pay for my ruined manure spreader?”

That last one would have required a series of increasingly unlikely events, but it wasn’t outside the realm of the possible.

While she wasn’t done with her list, it wasn’t necessary for her to continue. The image of injured horses or broken equipment was enough for me to acquire a deep respect for the destructive power of The Twine. Actually, the thing about pulling it from a horse’s butt had been enough.

String Theory

There is an entire garbage can full of bailing twine in the barn. To be more precise, it’s a recycle bin with a note on the lid describing the contents and instructions of what not to do with it (don’t leave it laying around on the floor).
I’m not sure why we have this can full of danger in here. Why not get these Strings of Chaos out of the barn altogether and keep us all safe?

Sensei tells me that bailing twine is actually very handy to have around.

“Look around the barn, Bob.” She nods to a fan hanging from the rafters above Caspian’s stall. The fan is secured by bailing twine.

“And check this out!” Without looking, she reaches up and turns on a light with a quick tug on a string of bailing twine dangling from a light fixture. I swear that string wasn’t there a minute ago. Actually, I didn’t even know a light was there.

Sensei takes me by the arm and escorts me to the haystack, the mother lode of bailing twine. A pair of orange scissors hangs from a hook next to the stack. This finger joint saving piece of equipment is attached to the hook by a long string of bailing twine. Tight knots guarantee the connection.

“I never have to look for these anymore. And my pens on the barn desk don’t walk off like they used to.”

Wow. I’ve never really paid much attention to these little details. Sensei has taken to me to a higher level of Twine Awareness. I look around the barn. It’s everywhere. Buckets tied to stall walls. Loose boards secured. Tarps tied down over farm equipment. It’s uses are endless.

Bailing twine is the duct tape of barn life. It’s the solution to so many of our problems. It’s like The Force in Star Wars: it surrounds us, we carry it with us, and it binds the barn universe together. 
Still, it doesn’t make for very attractive jewelry. 

Freelance writer Bob Goddard lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his wife, Jenny, and assorted pets. His book is Horse Crazy! A Tongue-in-Cheek Guide for Parents of Horse-Addicted Girls. To order, and to read his humorous blog, “Bob the Equestrian,” visit