Why Horses Should Never See Their Reflections – Or, Nelson the Horse Looks in a Mirror

The following is an unused companion piece to my short story “The Little Known Story of George Washington, Godzilla, the Yeti, Purple Polka-Dotted Aliens and the Quest for the Perfect Burrito.” If you haven’t read the short story yet, you can find an online copy of it on Chaotic Merge’s website here on page 103. Trust me, it makes what I’m about to share with you a lot funnier.

I’ll give you a quick rundown before we get into the meat of it. Nelson was the name of George Washington’s horse (in real life!). Nelson is also a character in the aforementioned short story of incredibly lengthy title. What you are about to read is from his perspective, hence the obvious impossibility for including it in the original short story.


When Nelson the Horse looks into the mirror, he sees Another Horse. Of course, what he really sees is himself, but, being a horse, he is unaware of this peculiar phenomenon and must be excused for any hostile feelings aroused in him by the sight of Another Horse standing on his property. He sees tawny-colored hair, much like what is boasted by many of his kind, and a lighter mane still growing back from the incident when Benjamin Franklin and Mahatma Gandhi accidentally set him on fire with a tuning fork and a Silmaril, which he no longer remembers, though he feels acutely that the horse at which he is looking must care nothing for his appearance to go cantering about with such a mane exposed.

A scar runs from his left leg to his flank, where some Swedish soldier struck him during the Battle of Trenton. His ears are pricked, and he blows, nostrils flaring. Like him, the Other Horse has a Bluetooth in his ear, and Nelson takes the time to call for Moose, a seventeen-year-old motorcycle and his only friend. The Other Horse seems to whinny, though it makes no noise, its long, well-combed tail—the same color as its mane—flipping as it stares him down through big, dark eyes.

The moment he sees Moose (a 1771 Harley Davidson, complete with two headlights, a high-backed wooden seat with a Colonial finish, and two deep-tread tires—one Michelin and the other Firestone) a motorcycle so like Moose as to be his twin appears behind the Other Horse. Nelson rears, the Other Horse mimicking him and exposing a pale underbelly with a rash in the same spot as Nelson, who yesterday had his saddle on too tightly too long. His hoof strikes the Other Horse’s and then the Other shatters as if made of glass, falling to the ground in shiny ice-like opaque pieces.

As always, all rights – copyright, 1st Amendment right and any other right, rite, or write – to this piece are reserved to Kristina Carpenter.

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