Tom the Wonder Horse Talks to a Psychic
Copyright © Judith Shaw
Tom the Wonder Horse was nineteen. He was probably the oldest gelding ever to cross the Pacific, but leaving him in Australia was unthinkable. In fact, if we couldn’t take Tom, I wasn’t going either.
But Tom wasn’t right. He’d survived the trip from Australia—although it took years off his life—and, once he got over being pissed off at me for abandoning him, seemed to settle down. I rode him out and about every day, sometimes with another horse, sometimes alone. He was a little anxious, but seemed pretty much okay. Still, he wasn’t quite right, and I didn’t know what was wrong.
The change of circumstances, moving from Australia to the Berkshires, had an impact. Being boarded out instead of living at home took a toll as well. I’d had the vet out, and nothing seemed to be wrong, but still. . . .
Finally, a friend, sick of hearing me obsess about my old boy, suggested that I get in touch with a horse psychic. I’m not really a New-Age-touchy-feely sort of person, and Tom certainly wasn’t, but I was ready to try anything.
This was the deal: I was to write down a list of questions and concerns that I wanted Tom to answer. Then, while someone videotaped the whole event, lead Tom around in a twenty-meter circle and ask the questions out loud. I was then to mail the video and a check for $40 to the psychic, who would give me a time to call her on the phone. I needed to be prepared to write down Tom’s answers.
The only information I gave the psychic was Tom’s name and age, where we lived, and my name.
It all sounded a little hokey to me, but I was committed.
At the appointed time, I called her on the phone. The first words out of her mouth floored me: “Is there someone living with you called Ron?” She asked. “Tom wants to know where Ron is. He said they were really good friends, but Ron hasn’t been to see him.”
Ron is my husband. In Australia, Tom used to follow Ron around with his chin on Ron’s shoulder. When I rode out with Tom in the national park, Ron would often come along. When Ron walked, Tom walked. When Ron jogged, Tom trotted. And if Ron ran, Tom would canter. Ron always called these outings “being on punishment detail,” but it was obvious the two of them enjoyed being out together.
I told the psychic to tell Tom that Ron would be around soon, and that we would be moving him to our house as soon as we could. The next day I began work on a two-stall shed for Tom and a buddy to live in.
The next thing she said was another surprise: “Tom said to tell me about all the times he saved your life.” So I mentioned a few, including the time a C130 buzzed our back field when I was working Tom.
I saw this monster plane flying at treetop level over the paddock and assumed I was a dead woman. When the plane flew overhead, Tom would freak out, spook and dump me, and I’d probably break my neck. In the event, he heaved a huge sigh and ignored the plane entirely.
Many of Tom’s life-saving feats involved ignoring whatever terrifying event was coming our way, and I got to know that sigh very well over the years. What I didn’t know was that Tom was just as frightened as I was. He wasn’t phlegmatic; he was saving his mom.
I had several more consultations with the psychic over the next few years, sometimes with hilarious results. In one episode, I asked if Tom—who was getting a little creaky—minded if Ron rode him while I rode a new (and much too much for me) horse named Monty. “It’s fine,” said Tom. “I don’t mind if Ron rides me. But tell him to stop wearing blue jeans. They hurt.” How could they hurt, I wondered. Ron is riding in a big old Western saddle. “No,” said Tom. “They don’t hurt me, they hurt him. Tell him to get a proper pair of riding britches. No one will know!”
One of the funniest lines came during that first consultation. The psychic asked about the time Tom and I were riding along the edge of the woods when a whole pack of . . . something . . . came boiling out of the woods and, instead of running away, Tom just stood there and sighed.
“I couldn’t work out what the animals were,” she said. “I asked if they were deer. Tom said no. Rabbits? No. Dogs? No. So what were they?”
“Kangaroos,” I said.
“Kangaroos! You were in Australia?”
“Yes,” I said. “That’s where Tom comes from.”
“Oh,” she said. “Now I get it. That’s why he sounds like Crocodile Dundee!”